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Best Advice?

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Fellow designers:

What's the best piece of advice that you've seen/heard/read?

I think for me it's the idea that Jessica Hische outlined in a talk about "Procrastiworking." Basically she said that multiples times throughout her career she found herself procrastinating on her day-to-day work on other projects. When she was an illustrator, she spent all her time working on lettering. When she lettered she got big into coding and font creation.

What this amounts to is two things:

1) Whatever you are procrastiworking on, is likely what you should be doing full time. It's clearly your passion and you should pursue it.

2) If there is some area you'd like to work in, you have to be able to show people you can do it before they hire you to do so. If you have a portfolio full of publication design, but want to work in sports branding, the only way you'll get hired to do so is to fill your portfolio with more sports branding. So go procrastiwork on some sports logos to prove to potential clients that you can do it.

What advice has impacted you the most?

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theres so much its hard to choose. im writing things down all the time, especially if im listening to Design Matters with Debbie Millman and anything Milton Glaser says is gold. if it's about art and design then "the gap" theory by i-cant-remember-who is probably it. basically, its that we have idols who are so much better than us and we try and try to be as good as them. we never get there (the gap is ever growing) but in the process of trying we get better.

for career advice it might be "go where you're needed the most".

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Respond, don't react. One of my psych profs in college said that, and I've pretty much lived by that mantra since then. Conveniently, it fits right in with the biggest thing I try to teach people who are asking for advice (or seem to need it) on being a designer: learn how to handle criticism.

Since what you do as a designer is very subjective, and there will always be people that do not like your work. It's one of the more challenging professions in my opinion, because there's not a concrete measure of success, so to speak, past "I like it" or "I don't like it." That being said, though, everyone's feedback can be helpful — it's all in how you take it. As a designer, your work is very personal, and it's very easy to take negative feedback as a personal attack. More often than not, it's just a person giving an honest opinion. The sooner you recognize that and respond instead of react, the easier your job becomes.

Don't get me wrong, we've all been pissed at a client's decision to scrap work at one point or another. But what is healthier for you and your relationship with them? Listening and delivering what they're asking for, or trying to convince them that you're right? Same goes for work posted here. While it may not be for a client per se, the general public is a wealth of information and opinion that a lot of designers dismiss as "haters" or people who don't understand the craft. There's some truth to that last bit, no doubt, but being hard-headed toward criticism and feedback is really self-limiting.

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Cover your willy before you get silly...Oh wait, design advice?

"'The client is always right' is the biggest load of crap you'll ever hear in your career" - former boss

The client is NOT always right, but as designers our job is to please the client. Sometimes you have to set your pride aside, do things that you don't necessarily think look right/best/whatever and give the client what they want. Push the client to see your side of things, but don't force ideas down their throat. It's their project and they deserve to be happy with the finished product, even if you aren't.

I have plenty of pieces that I would never dream of putting in my portfolio because I'm not happy with them, but the client was, and they paid me, and that makes me happy.

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This is a great thread and I will defiantly follow it.

This year is very important to me because I'm going to university to study graphic design and technology. All advice I get is like a seed that will eventually sprout, so thanks to JPDesign for starting this thread.

Follow this topic *click*

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"You can't polish a turd"/"Kill your babies."

Yes, I'm aware that the Mythbusters did a whole bit on it, but hear me out. Sometimes, as designers, we attach ourselves to a single idea or concept we have that might not be a good one. The longer you spend working on an idea doesn't automatically mean it's a good idea. Execution is everything. Sometimes, it's better to cut your losses and start from scratch. A professor I had in college used the phrase "kill your babies," but it applies more to a group project - don't get so hung up on your idea that it actually hurts the project as a whole because they're accommodating for your idea. You need to be as flexible as the people you're working with.

"Don't use what comes first."

A graphic design professor made us do this activity at the beginning of each class: he'd give us a name of a company and what industry they're in, and he'd give us 5 minutes to come up with a concept. It was a thinking on your feet exercise - but then, he'd take our concepts and say "Now, think of something else. You can't use these now."

He was getting us to think abstractly, outside the box.

Let's say you're working on a logo for Chuck's Diner. You probably have imagery in your head that you go to immediately. Plates, utensils, food, what have you. By forcing yourself to think "what can I do without my go-to," you can expand your horizons and force yourself to be more creative.

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This is good stuff so far.

Here's another one of my favorites, it's a quote from Mies van der Rohe:

"It's better to be good, than to be original."

It'd be nice for teams like the Bucs and Jags to remember that one. :P

But really, that's a good reminder not to go crazy just for the sake of being different. Design principles are a good foundation and will likely lead to something that is "timeless." Just striving for being different or following fads is a good way to look dated quickly.

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One of my instructors had a saying he always told me, "Time spent perfecting is wasting time perfectly." Basically saying that fixating on trying to make everything perfect is a waste of time when much of the time what you already have is good and it'll never feel absolutely perfect which can stifle creativity and blow up deadlines. Helped me get over my perfectionism, mostly.

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"It's better to be good, than to be original."

I think Picasso said "To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic."

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I've never had any formal training and design is an occasional hobby these days, so take this advice for what it's worth.

1. Your first ideas all suck. Stop trying to squeeze blood from a stone and start fresh.

2. Don't listen to much feedback if you can help it. It's art - you're never going to please everyone. Focus on being happy with the final product.

3. Designing professionally requires a lot of sacrifice and loss of dignity since you'll be destroying works of art in order to satisfy an ignorant client most of the time. Don't blur the lines too often. Know your client and if it's clear that putting 100 hours into a rough draft that's got your heart and soul in it will only net you an, "that's alright but how about trying this..." that's when you know if you've got what it takes to make it. I didn't.

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For what it's worth...creative advice I've gotten along the way.

- Learn to articulate with words, your visual ideas so you can sell them upfront.

- READ THE COPY FIRST!

- Is it as good as it can be? Probably not. Is it as good as it needs to be? Yes.

- It's not your baby. Let it go. Don't get married to it thinking it won't change.

- At some point you have to kick it out of the nest and see if it can fly. Give it wings and then set it free.

- You don't get to a great product quickly by taking baby steps. Be bold then dial it back.

- In this business, if you don't keep the customer (not just the client) in mind, you are just making art.

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