Last week, for the first time in a long time, I found myself in a classroom setting giving out my opinions on student graphic design projects. Oh class critique, how I’ve missed you. I used to do critiques a lot in Lincoln. While now, I certainly enjoy pontificating about ideas and design, I remember a time when I was on the other side. Terrified of being torn apart. Scared of what smart people would think of my student work. Shaking while presenting, voice timid and trembling.
All of those situations, however uncomfortable, were so very important. To be a solid designer and a valuable member of any team, I believe you must start at the bottom. You must be called out for lazy thinking. You must be pushed to a place you hadn’t wanted to go. You must be exposed and you must be vulnerable.
Gliding through a career with exceptional work and being able to make any idea seem magical certainly happens for some people. But I’m not interested in those people. I’m more interested in those of us who have had to go through the shit. Of being terrible to be being okay to being solid and putting in the time at each phase to advance simply by the sheer will of your determination. Yes! Those are the people for me.
So fear not terrified student. If you’re up for the task, to be a solid designer who makes beautiful work and makes any team better, you must go through the bottom rungs. Get exposed, get torn apart, get vulnerable. If you want it bad enough, the early phases will only make you better. You just have to hold on for the ride.