I‘m a bit late with this post, but I wanted to take a stab at writing an “Ideas of March” post. (Yes, I know it’s technically May). Chris Shiflett started the blog revival, calling on designers to pledge to write more than they did in the previous year. Meagan Fisher, Sarah Parmenter and Rachel Shillcock have all posted articles that resonate with me deeply. Not only because they are awesome female designers producing exceptional work within the industry, but because I too have the same frustrations of feeling discouraged about my work, the struggles of keeping up with an industry that moves at dizzying speeds, and trying not to succumb to the nervousness I feel even pondering the decisions I have to make within the next year.
“Potential”. It’s something many people have told me already as a designer. “You’re so young, your work is so good for still being in college,” or “I love your style.” Although I appreciate these comments and am genuinly humbled when being compared to more established and seasoned designers, I can’t see it. To be honest, when I look at my work, I can’t even describe a “style” that might be associated with my work because I feel like when I’m designing, I should always be producing the best work – and I feel like I’m not delivering. Maybe it’s a female thing:
“I didn’t work on anything I was especially proud of, I didn’t write anything I feel really good about. I had plenty of treasured moments with my friends and family, but all in all, I’d been living without direction. I don’t want to anymore.” – Meagan Fisher
This quote by Meagan seems absurd to me because Meagan is one of my design idols. I adore everything she designs, writes and talks about. Maybe that’s just her perspective. Just like how I have my own perspective of my work. As designers, it’s a constant battle with our inner critic.
I see such young designers, some of whom I have the privelage of calling my friends, such as Tyler Galpin, Collin Henderson, Rachel Shillcock, Hillary Hopper and Iain MacDonald… people who are SO talented and seem to be so confident in their work for being so young. I feel like I still have so much to learn and that I’m not particularly excelling at anything.
Rachel recently tweeted an article by James Young titled You’re Not at the Cutting Edge, and That’s Fine. This article was a literal sigh of relief for me – to know that I was not the only one feeling overwhelmed.
“There’s a new framework or grid system released every week, some are useful and some aren’t. You don’t have to use them. Guess what, it’s still entirely possible to make a website with a text editor and your brain. These tools are here to potentially make your life easier but if you try and keep up with everything you’re going to feel swamped and lost.” – James Young
I don’t know how to do the latest and greatest in CSS, nor Illustrator. Heck, I’m still trying to find the best way to work in Photoshop. It’s a learning curve, yet it still proves to be continually frustrating trying to teach myself these skills when something bigger and better always keeps coming along.
Keeping up to pace with the design industry is a daunting task that proves to be time-consuming. I’ve lost relationships in my past, some people who I’ve greatly admired and connected with, because I have placed so much emphasis on my work. This is something that I’m not proud of and looking back, I feel like these relationships could of been salvaged. So, there comes a point where you have to ask yourself: “What do I want? For my career, I say I want to make and write and speak. But this leads me to ask: What do I really have to say? What can I make that’s actually meaningful?”
Expectations is a word that also scares me. I’m often frightened by what people think I should be doing, rather than what I feel is right. Expectations are placed on us from parents, friends, co-workers, significant others and more, and in the design industry it can be hard when people place expectations on you without really knowing who you are. I feel that since I have gained a bit of exposure through Twitter, people almost expect you to be “an expert” at what you do. In no way is this the case and at times it can prove to be overwhelming to live up to what others are expecting, whether that be in your design work or other aspects of your career.
Going deeper into finding out why designers such as myself feel this way is important. What is more important, is that these experiences, thoughts and emotions be published – vulnerable and in plain sight for everyone to see. Blogging helps establish our voice, strengthen our confidence and ultimately, helps us become better designers.
If you’re interested in what other people are writing about for the “Ideas of March,” you can follow the Twitter search #ideasofmarch.