These questions float around, usually in awkward interviews, meetups – or sometimes you find yourself pondering them at 1 am (before an 8 am client call, naturally):
- Why do you design?
- What do you love most about being a designer?
- What makes you unique as a designer?
Every designer has different and personal motivations, and I’ve put some thought into mine – and maybe through reading this, you will find yours. Even if you’re not a designer by job description, everyone is a designer in their own way, maybe you should consider these questions too.
Why do you design?
There is one unifying thread that I keep coming back to when answering these questions: the client. The answer is simple – but there is more to dig into here.
I love getting to know them and their product (or service), understanding the problem, asking questions – and collaborating together to come to a solution. What has guided me through my design career, and made me a successful designer, is a passion for clients.
I might not be the most awe-inspiring, Dribbble-porn designer, and I’m not the most advanced expert user that knows all the tips and latest tricks with Sketch and Photoshop – although there was a period where InDesign was my beast; I owned that app (the joy of a merge data artwork is yet to be beaten… but I digress). What has made me successful as a designer is a passion for, and a deep understanding of, the client.
What do I love most about being a designer?
I love hearing people’s stories, how their business came about, why they care about what they do, and what makes their business, goals and offering unique; or digging in to find those details myself. I often also get to learn out more about each client as a person.
I get to work with the most passionate people in an organization. I get to make their goals and business insights translate that into a tangible item – like a website, product or print piece. For me, there is nothing better than the joy of presenting something to a client, and then working together with them to improve it.
It is a piece of work that so many people have invested time, money, and a big bit of heart into.
But what about rejection?
Of course, that doesn’t mean it always goes as well as you hope. Sometimes you don’t win a pitch, or they don’t choose your favourite design – or they just don’t like anything you present.
Some designers might hate that moment of rejection, dread it – but I don’t. I’ve been there with many clients. It’s part of the job (and new designers remember: this isn’t a failure!). It’s time to reassess and re-attempt. Often it’s a communication breakdown; something was missed, lost in translation or unclear.
The longer I’ve been in my design career has made me realize how much listening matters. I listen, and more than listen, I care. Clients want to feel that their thoughts and ideas are welcome, and shared – and, even if not implemented, their thoughts, feedback and needs are responded to – and a solution aligned with their goals.
Is there anything else?
I’ve been so blessed to with every client I’ve worked with (mostly through agencies). They have all taught me something. I’ve learned and applied soft skills, but also learned about knitting and yarn, the great work charities are doing in our community, and many other insights and knowledge-nuggets I’ve come across.
My job as a designer is to solve problems. I will stay until late at night to make sure the ducks are in a row. I’m passionate about the client experience – not just that they got a great website or a beautiful logo – but that they also love the process.
What makes you unique as a designer?
I love what I do. A lot of designers just want to work on the travel websites, or the latest hipster subscription, or ‘cool’ company. While I love working on those too, it’s working with people passionate about their business or goals that I love working with most and gives me the most personal satisfaction.
I’ve designed for a business that sells tombstones, which isn’t exactly the most glamorous or trendy line of work – but they were one of the most passionate clients I’ve ever met. They shared their family history, what they did and why they cared. It translated into one of the website designs of which I am most proud.
What makes you the best designer?
I don’t claim to be the ‘best designer’. But I will be my best, I will continue to learn, and do the best for the project. I give a shit. I put everything into my work.
Want to work with me?