« Back to Blog June 8, 2016 | Design Career

Step up to the Plate

I love to help others. Nothing makes me feel better than helping someone else with something. I don’t know if it’s just because of my jesuit education, my Catholic guilt, or if I’m just a good person (doubtful), but helping people is very important to me.

Whether that thing is dog sitting for my parents, treating a friend to lunch, or designing a logo I always get this warm and fuzzy feeling inside knowing I made someone’s life easier.

Design is an amazing outlet for me to help others because unlike helping a friend move a couch, it’s a unique skill to me. There may very well be hundreds of thousands of designers on this earth, but for a lot of people I’m the only one they know. That’s a strange and powerful gift.

When you are a designer you tend to know lots and lots of other designers. It’s part of being in the biz. Being entrenched in the industry means that some of the magic that is design becomes lost to us. We take for granted the amazing things we are capable of doing because we’ve done them day after day for so long. But for those not in the industry, what designers can do might as well be some form of sorcery straight out of the Player’s Handbook. (That’s a D&D reference for those who are not complete nerds like me.)

To some, designing a logo is on par with pulling a rabbit out of a hat. It seems so mysterious that we can take what seems like nothing and turn it into something.

Design isn’t magic. Design is labor. We take the materials clients give us and try to build something amazing out of it. Sometimes we get handed mahogany, other times it’s a bundle of twigs and branches. But no matter what we get handed to work with, if we agreed to do a job it’s our duty to do our absolute best to help the people who entrusted us to help them.

If we are not putting our absolute all into every job we are doing people a disservice.

Designers can be pretentious assholes some times. I know that I certainly have been countless times already in my short career. We’ll complain about the client’s budget, the client’s ideas, or the client’s attitude all while forgetting the most important thing. We agreed to work with and help these people in the first place.

If the job was truly no good, we should have said no. If the guy inquiring about work was a total jerk, we shouldn’t have signed him on. If the client’s budget turned out to be too small, we should have politely passed.

I’ve wasted so much mental energy thinking things like, “This job isn’t cool” or, “This is a boring job just to pay my bills.” Those may very well have been true statements, but thinking that way was hurting the quality of my work.

I like to pride myself on trying to make every job I take on be the best work I can possibly make it. In order to make the best work I can, I need to respect each project and check my ego at the door. When I do the best work I possibly can, I am helping others. When I half-ass my work because “it isn’t a cool job” I’m hurting others.

Not everything I design makes its way to my portfolio or up on dribbble, but that’s just the life of a designer. Not everything I design needs to be a home run.

Baseball analogy time. Hank Aaron hit a record setting 755 home runs in his amazing baseball career. Hammerin’ Hank also played in 3,020 games in his 23 seasons. That means that arguably the greatest home run hitter of all-time would hit a home run once out of every four games. That means roughly once every 16 at-bats. That’s a lot of time spent swinging and not hitting home runs.

You can’t approach your work thinking you’ll only really try at pitches you think you can hit out of the park. Take some swings. Try and make contact. See how far you can make each job go. Take some risks. You are going to miss at times. But just try and make a difference with the skills you have. That’s all anyone can really ask of you in the end.

We are all so lucky to be a part of the design community and for all the loved ones in our lives. Never forget that.

Love design. Love what you do. Love others. Don’t ever take any of it for granted. And never stop stepping up to the plate to help others with your amazing skills. Swing for the fences!

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