Admittedly, this article was completely inspired by one of my absolute role models, Gareth Emery, and his podcast, Make It Happen. I highly suggest anyone reading this article to check out the podcast as it deals a lot with many issues that creatives face. I have to agree with what he said. Being who we are will eventually get us to where we want to be.
While authenticity is something we all strive for, since that is most likely what brought us into the design industry in the first place, we often give into the temptation to copy what was already successful. I know I’ve been guilty of that too many times. As easy as it is to draw reference from the most successful projects out there, chances are we aren’t going to be as successful by copying someone else’s formula. The reason their project was able to become so successful was because it was original. People love witnessing new things. However, witnessing something a second time is never as breath taking as the first. Sometimes we need to use the successful projects simply as inspiration, couple it with our own originality and drag something so great out of us that we even surprise ourselves. I think one of the best ways to do this, and I wrote more in detail in a previous article, is to try our best to push ourselves as far as we can possibly go, then push even further. It is one of the most arduous things to do, but the results are worth the entire struggle.
One of the ways in which we can identify the parts of our style that make us who we are is looking at our work, preferentially in a chronological order. If we can look at the things we created for fun and see the transition into the things we created under pressure, I’m sure within each one of those pieces we can clearly remember the fun and struggle and see the parts of our souls we put into those works. From there we can critique ourselves and decide if we are happy with the direction in which we are heading. If we are happy and can see our hard work paying off at some point, then full speed ahead. If we notice that somewhere along the way we fell off, maybe it’s time to do some reevaluating and make a considerable change in our design work. One of my professors while in design school, Angela Curreri, once told me that she finds herself going back to the same topics throughout her career. I’m not sure how much more authentic it can get than that. Our job as designers is to problem solve. However, we can’t problem solve mindlessly. We need to constantly look at the way in which we design professionally and, for lack of a more relevant word, design the paths upon which we walk in our lives.
The world loves original. The world loves bold. The world loves mind blowing. The downside to this is that the world also hates these things. Having our designs touch the right eyes is a matter of luck. We can only keep trying with the hope that we’ll get there eventually. Sometimes, grabbing opportunities before we can really evaluate the situation thoroughly is the way for us to make it. I don’t think anyone who became successful was able to make leisurely, informed choices every time an opportunity was presented to them. That being said, the one sure way to not be lucky is by being lazy. Working at our craft will eventually get us where we need to be. Every step, both back and forth, that we take is all a part of our success stories. Staying true to ourselves and doing what we think is right will eventually get us noticed. Maybe for the right reasons or the wrong ones. Either way, we’ll get noticed. Just as a side note, almost any bad situation can be converted to a good one if we play our cards right.
As long as we keep working hard at what we do, doing what we love and evoking our efforts from the depth of our passion we’ll soon taste success. I think the most important thing is not to focus on the end result. While we can’t take our eyes of our goal, being mindful of the entire process makes it all the more enjoyable. We can’t jump from our beginnings to our successes. We have to take each individual step. We become stronger and wiser with every step that we take. Eventually, we will make it to where we would like to be.