Being an excellent designer vs. a perfect designer

It’s rough being a designer.

Many times we’re tasked with projects that need too much work in too little time. The client needs it yesterday, there is no content submitted, the fonts they requested must be purchased but it’s not in their budget, etc.

For every designer, it seems like we’re presented with two options for any project: perfection which is unattainable and mediocrity which is failure.

No one wants to fail, but we don’t have unlimited time and money. How do we reconcile these two pits on either side of our path as a design?

We become excellent.

Excellence was once described as doing to the best you can with what you have. This includes time, tools and funds.

Anyone working in a design job will quickly remind you that time is money, and sometimes they have to turn out high volumes of content in a short amount of time. It is rare that projects will have unlimited time and budgets. Rare as in “Bigfoot marrying a unicorn” rare.

So how do we become excellent designers?

If we look at some of the most famous Graphic Designers, we notice that their lives are marked by excellence. They don’t always have the most resources, but they made the best product they could with those resources.

Due to the attitudes of excellence these designers displayed, they gained more business, and many went on to establish multi-million-dollar design firms.

They achieved what they did because of three things:

They were flexible, intelligent and diligent.

You can determine the experience of a designer by their attitude towards “perfect” work. If they insist that every project must be “perfect,” they have either not worked professionally for very long, or they work so slowly that they take forever to turn out a project. (It’s possible they have a ton of super wealthy clients with no deadlines but, again, that’s Bigfoot territory.)

If we want our careers to continue, we must be excellent in our work. It’s hard not to emotionally connect to work, but the most successful designers can love their work without being so in love with their work that they dare not change it or allow alterations from the client.

If we want to have an impact on our culture with our client design work, we must be excellent. Perfection is not reality, but excellence in your work can alter your reality forever.