We’ve all had that client. The one who pushes pixels, wants to see just one more version, and can’t quite commit to a final approval, because just maybe there’s one final touch that could really bring the whole piece to that next level. Perfection. The unachievable, because there’s always something better. Yes, we’ve all had that client. And if you’re a designer, I think you’d agree that more often than not, that client is you.
I think it stands pretty true for most designers that it’s always the most trying to design something for yourself. We’re the most difficult client we’ll ever have, with countless revisions, tough critiques, & endless hours perfecting the most minute details. We work day in and day out designing proud masterpieces for clients without a second thought, but when it comes to creating in the name of ourselves, it’s suddenly a daunting task as much as it is exciting.
To that tune, I’ve recently taken on the task of designing for myself. For my wedding. Not only am I designing all the love mail for the event, but my fiancé, who is also a graphic designer, is in on the gig. So we’ve put our creative minds together to hopefully come up with a well-crafted, unique and fully conceptual design that lives up to every standard we’ve set for ourselves. From concept to craftsmanship, every detail is accounted for and thought through. I mean, every couple dreams of the perfect save the dates, right? Ha, when you’re a designer duo, that’s exactly true.
So why are we so hard on ourselves?
We design, we’re designers – so it should be no problem for us to whip something up in the name of ourselves, or so you would think. However, we are our own toughest critics, and are always striving to do and be better. It matters to us because our art is a reflection of our style, skill set and ultimately who we are. So when our own expectations continue building up, so does the pressure. Possibly one of the worst culprits is the art of comparing. It’s so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing, and wondering if we measure up. Eventually though, too much comparing can also destroy original ideas, leaving our creative minds blank and frustrated.
The Remedy? Stop comparing and start giving yourself some credit. Find a balance between creating the best of the best and putting too much pressure on yourself. Have some fun, let your creative mind breathe, and you’ll be ready to put your design pants on. I’ve also heard that spending some solid time outside can really be a creative booster.
Another struggle is that of endless options. There are so many possibilities and directions to go in, and as designers the sky is really the limit. It becomes not what we can achieve, but what we finally decide to achieve. From font choices to color schemes to variations in style, the opportunities are endless. What we want to say about ourselves comes through in all these elements, and picking only one direction can be overwhelming at times.
The Remedy? Perhaps the best way to make a design decision without doing a million versions is to dissect the project from the get go. Asking yourself the right questions at the forefront of a project can help put into perspective a more clear approach. Questions such as, what’s the core message, who is the targeted audience, and what’s the tone and voice, are all good places to start. Really, just the basics, and essentially the guts of the project. Once you are able structure your vision, your concepts will have a more defined direction to go in.
As if the pressure and endless decisions are not enough, the final hold up can be focus. When you’re doing projects for a client, there’s always a timeline and very set process, whereas when it’s for yourself, it’s more of a free for all. Taking yourself from the back burner to a priority can often get lost in the shuffle of things, making it hard to get started.
The Remedy? The best way to get around this is by taking a step back and taking the job on as you would with a client. Break down what it is you’re trying to achieve, and go through the creative process you know and use everyday. Once you’ve established your to do list, it will become easier to focus on the task at hand. Oh, and give yourself a deadline, a real deadline.
So to the artists out there, maybe it’s okay we hold ourselves to such high standards. We are after all, putting our name out there, and nothing portrays that more than the work done for ourselves. It’s just a matter of getting through those struggles along the way, and overcoming the difficulties of being that really tough client.
On a closing note, I will follow up in mentioning that the first part of our wedding collateral did pull through as a win. We were able to get out of our heads and got them designed, screen-printed and personally approved. Now onwards to the next project.