Designing From The Psychiatrist Chair
The frank thoughts and inner turmoils of a (semi) successful designer (and how he tackles his insecurities).
Hi, my name is Keaton, I’m a Director of a prosperous design studio in Canterbury, England.
And I have a confession…
I don’t spend my nights concocting inspiring design concepts or my weekends studying tutorials to enhance my skills. I work hard, really hard during the working week but when I leave the studio I do my best to forget all things design. I’m not much of a contributor to the social web either, I’ve never posted an interesting Photoshop technique or shared a piece of code in the hope that it will be ‘liked’ by my peers.
That’s not to say I don’t have huge admiration for the folks that do. I love design but I still recognise that the design I do, I do it so I can live well and spend good quality time with my friends and family. If money had never been an issue, I don’t think I’d be as competent a designer. Without that pressure to get better, to make the money I need to enjoy myself when the 7/8/9pm working day bell rings.
I’m good at what I do, I know that to almost be certain. Not just at designing but creating. Forging visual concepts that resonate with people and clients. Though it pains me to admit — I think I’m a hybrid of a marketer and a designer (as a designer I’m conditioned to dislike marketeers) and that there lies my strength.
That all being said, whenever I take my first steps on the road to a new project, I still have that devil on my shoulder, whispering into my ear. I have a real fear that the last 10, 20, 100 successful projects I’ve worked on, that they were just a fluke, and somehow I stumbled upon a concept that worked and was well received.
Or someone to say “Don’t question your ability because you took heavy inspiration for part of your design from one amazing website you once saw”. That is after all what design is, progression upon progression of what’s come before.
You are not a fraud. If my inner devil suggest that I am, then it’s humbling for me to remember — The reason my career exists and the reason the internet is as prosperous as it is is because it was forged by the success of pornography. The reason we’re in this profession is because of wankers, literally.
Whenever I’m working on a project it becomes the most important thing in my life. It has to be perfect. So it helps if I take a step back and think about all of us as a collective, the designers, the coders, the creatives. Ultimately we are just one of billions, spinning endlessly around a fireball in the sky*. What we create in this fleeting moment doesn’t really matter and will almost certainly soon be forgotten.
Sometimes we’re fortunate to stumble on something that truly makes a difference and in those rare instances we realise why we do it. The inspiration that propels us to carry on is immense. In the most part however, we’re all here, sitting in front of a monitor, away from our friends & family, so we can make the moments we are with our friends & family as enjoyable as possible; and surely that’s the greatest inspiration of them all?
*My inner devil is screaming “Hippy” at me for writing that.