At the end of one of my favourite podcasts, the host asks the guest what advice he'd give his 21 year old self. A lot of people sit on the fence and say they would want to learn the lessons the hard way. But others give some humbling wisdom that might make you reevaluate an aspect of how you view the world.
I'm not promising to be able to offer that. In fact, I promise you that this is nowhere near on that level. But, as a purely selfish endeavour, I thought it would be useful to put this down on the page, rather than keep it in my head.
So, if I were to ask myself, what advice I'd give my 21 year old self, I think it would be this:
Plan for a long term goal. Define it, shape it, visualise it. Feel what it will be like once you achieve it... Experience it fully for a moment. Then let it go.
The next step is to focus in on the short term. The next job you do is the best job you can possibly do.
And repeat day after day.
The big time jobs don't come without dozens and dozens of small time jobs. But you've got to love those ones. Because they're the ones that will put food on your table and pay your mortgage month after month.
The one or two 'cool' jobs that come in from time to time; that shine away in your portfolio... They aren't what you can expect to do very often.
But when you approach every job with the goal of making it as good as it can possibly be, it changes your mindset. You begin to enjoy the 'shitty' jobs, and after a little while... You just get far fewer shitty jobs.
But do you know what, nothing changed, only you did.
It feels like a quote Mr. Miyagi would tell Daniel... 'No such thing bad client, only bad designer'... I am not endorsing that statement fully; but I think there is SOME truth to it.
The more experienced I get as a graphic designer, and especially since owning my own business, the more I realise how much the 'journey' a customer goes down matters. (I'd say at least as much as the quality of the end product).
When people go to get a logo designed, it's a cool thing for them to do. Or at least it should be.
We must make them feel like they are buying an expensive new car.
We're there to work WITH them to help tell THEIR story. We're there for ideas, marketing ability and of course the technical skills to execute. But, we add real VALUE to the customer's experience when we involve them in the process.
You should start with a conversation. Ask what they're trying to achieve. And actually use those words. It's the best question to get to the heart of problem you need to solve.
But then dig deeper. Keep asking 'how?' and 'why?'... Find out what the real message is, then you can truly tell their story.
If I'd known this at 21... I'd have had a much smoother life, and maybe had a better hairline. One thing though, I'd have made some better logos.