For the past couple of months, I have been slowly chipping away and refining my design identity. This has turned out to be a massive workload, especially considering that it seems almost every day I come to some new realization that my approach on something has been incredibly immature and “schooly” looking. I feel like after graduating with a design degree and trying to find work, the hardest thing was trying to understand design in an actual client context, rather than trying to showcase some particular creative skill. In the real world, I learned that no one gave any shits about how unique and creative your portfolio was unless it did so in a way that showcased your skills in basic things, like your superhero status working in InDesign templates and replacing bodies of text based on the branding formula. Lots of other rambling things I learned the hard way include-
- Dream jobs don’t exist right out of college, who do you think you are? GET A JOB (Like, one that kind of sucks and then you’ll work your way up, eh?)!
- No cares about you. This makes me sound cynical and seems like a negative horrible thing to reinforce, but once I got over the initial depressing shock of this realization it was very freeing for me. Once I realized that it was about nothing more than the puzzle piece that fit into the missing space on their puzzle, I was able to make myself be that puzzle piece. It stopped being about coming across as this super creative artistic type (lots of pressure) and became more about simply filling their needs in a pragmatic way. Instead of trying so hard to prove yourself in way they potentially aren’t even looking for, just sit back and listen to their needs. Then after, be that guy that just says I can do that, heres proof (points to design that actually proves it).
- It’s not always about creativity. Creativity is obviously important in this field, but I felt that when I was in school there was not enough balance between creativity and logic. When I entered “the real world” I was always going into interviews trying to show my creativity and fine arts abilities and no one cared. Now that I understand how irrelevant these pieces were to the jobs I was applying for I feel so much shame. (Like WAS I ON DRUGS OR SOMETHING when I brought this to an actual interview and thought it was pret-ty snazzy?) It wasn’t until after I had one of my internships that I realized the importance of marketing correctly to my audience through my work.
- It’s not about you. Understanding that- while it’s nice and cutesy and good for you for doing what you feel like, people only care about your work in the context of their needs. They’re just not going to have some strong emotional reaction to your printmaking experimentation in college so much as they want to see you make a style sheet in InDesign and transcribe a paragraph into a template correctly.
- Just keep positive day by day! I realize more and more as time goes on that design is the type of field where work sometimes just falls in your lap. Even though it is on average more stressful and competitive than the average job market, along with these lows come much higher “highs” than other careers. Most designers I know do freelance work on the side of full time jobs just because they happen upon freelance work in passing with people. I have had so many situations where family members or friends refer people to me for freelance work just because despite not knowing me, they’d rather have a single personal connection than work with a bigger company that will use some sort of gross template.
The point of this rambling list is partially for me to organize my own thoughts on all of this job search stuff, but also to introduce my new business card. I have been more strongly considering the possibility of increasing my freelance workload lately, and thinking about this has brought up a lot of other ideas. This design is in the running as my replacement business card, matching my portfolio website much better than my previous card. I wanted it to look sophisticated and slightly masculine with a neutral color palette, because I felt that this was the most timeless (in terms of my ADD at least). I’m still in the process of figuring out my card backs, so that is on the schedule next!