While I’ve learned a lot of practical and technical things at here in Cleveland with design firm Go Media, I’ve also learned some more general, but valuable lessons. In my first couple of posts I’d like to share them with you.
1. Swallow your pride / Be open to criticism
Sometimes this first lesson comes naturally, and other times it does not. Yes, design is subjective, but as an intern I have broken some basic rules on many occasions. Its good practice to not be offended by criticism because it often holds valuable lessons. Don’t have access to awesome mentors like those at Go Media? Here are some ways to get more from criticism:
- Don’t Rationalize: “But I’m only 19”, “I just started using Illustrator a month ago”, and “But business cards are boring” don’t really matter on a professional level (which is what you’re aiming for, right?).
- Instead find the reason for your rationalization – if you feel you lack experience then do some free freelancing. If you aren’t up to speed with certain tools of the trade, take a class or wait for Go Media to release some awesome video tutorials. Be proactive about improving in your weakest areas, don’t just exercise your strong points.
- Wait: Does your latest design make you giddy when you glance at it? Put it aside and look again in a couple of weeks. You might notice certain elements that would create more unity if changed slightly. Become your own critic by removing the bias from your own eye with time.
- Just Do It: Even if you don’t agree with criticism you’ve received on one of your designs, just follow it anyway. At the very least you’ll expand your horizons of “what looks good”, and most of the time you’ll find the recommendation really does help!
2. Make the most of your failures:
- This revelation is straight from the Go Media guy himself – Bill Beachy. Bill has taught me that each failure is a gem of experience and a sign of progress. Don’t dwell in past failures, but don’t ignore them either. Each one should sharpen your eye for detail, help you avoid future mistakes, and help you be proactive about creating good work.
3. Presentation is important:
After all, isn’t this what design is all about? Presentation – of anything (information, emotion, etc). So when presenting your designs to a client or applying for a job be sure to spit polish every aspect of the presentation process. Do you have matching stationary? Is your cover letter nicely formatted and addressed to proper recipient? If you have trouble remembering these presentation ‘musts’ make a checklist and file it.
Brand yourself. Spend an afternoon coming up with a killer monogram or simple logotype for your name. Keep the color scheme consistent with the rest of your presentation materials, such as portfolio covers and stationary. Showing you can create and present your own materials will convince others that you’re the one for the job.
Check out the user showcase recently added to the Go MediaZine and post your self-branding projects there. If yours is a model of awesome self-marketing it could end up here in the Go MediaZine!
There are more lessons and other practical tips to come, so check back. Till then, happy designing.