Seven months of freelance, getting over oneself and the art of becoming bullet proof
We’re a funny old bunch us designers. We spend much of our lives self flagellating over our most recent work and how it could have been nothing short of perfection if we’d only taken that 1 pixel line down to 50% opacity rather than left it at the hideously garish 53% opacity. Or over analysing feedback for our work from clients/ colleagues/ strangers to the point that unless they shout “I F*CKING love it, I want to marry you and have your babies” whilst attempting to dry hump ours legs we feel like wounded animals who want to disappear back to our burrows (office/ spare bedroom) and lick our wounds (play on MW3 or in my case buy shoes).
Well that’s what I’m like anyway, or was like when I was employed. Before I sent a design over to a client I would discuss it with colleagues and usually the sales person who had first won the job, any tweaks that we felt were needed would then be made prior to the client even seeing it. I may have even been collaborating with another designer so the stress was shared. This all meant that if the client wasn’t totally ecstatic with the first draft of the design we could sit around bemoaning their lack of imagination/ taste/ grey matter and I’d have my sizeable ego stroked back to joyfulness. I was like the love child of Mariah Carey and Elton John.
This doth a monster create.
However when I began freelancing I very quickly realised that there is no one there to big you up and reassure you that its not your fault, or that it was the “client from hell’s” issues and they just don’t understand what it is they REALLY want, they are just so uncreative and small minded and all that kind of utter rubbish. Now there is just me and I can try convincing myself that it really isn’t my fault but sometimes it actually is. In the last 7 months I have learnt that sometimes I mess up, sometimes I make mistakes. Either I don’t listen enough, or I just do what I think is right and sometimes that is, in fact, wrong. When this finally dawned on me and I realised that the world had not actually caved in and people still respected my work and wanted to work with me it actually liberated me in my attitude towards designing and my clients. It made me stronger rather than more vulnerable. I felt bullet proof.
One of my favourite quotes of all time is by Winston Churchill.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
He is basically saying get over yourself and get on with it. I like this.
Photo by Nick Walker
These days if I have a negative reaction to a piece of work I have done, I really listen to where it is I have gone wrong, I take on board any feedback. I am totally honest with myself too, for example if I think I’ve not produced my best work I will not make excuses to myself but say okay that wasn’t great but I will remedy it or start again or whatever is needed. Then I move on. That is the most important bit. I listen, I learn and then I move forward. I NEVER dwell. Its too destructive.
It sound incongruous but strangely enough this attitude means that I now go into new projects feeling less scared and defensive which in turn means that I listen more carefully which generally leads to me producing better work which the client is pleased with thus my confidence grows and I become calmer and happier.
I have embraced my fallibility and as a result it has made me stronger.
P.S. If you’re wondering what Elton and Mariah’s love child looks like, its ummm this….
N.B. If you’re thinking of hiring me for any future work then please do not base my Photoshop or design skills on the above image… I was short on time, okay?!?!?!
If you fancy reading another freelance article I wrote called Six months of freelance, DAYS OF FEAR and how I found work then I would be delighted. As always get in touch if you have any questions or if you have any projects you might like to collaborate with Capriccio on email@example.com.