Value Your Design

Recently at work things have been very stressful, I am sure that most of us have experienced this, and if you haven’t you will soon enough. One of the frustrating things about this stress is that it always surrounds design and or development…

whether it be deadlines, scope creep, natural disasters(servers failing), meetings about the direction of a project, or any of the things that can add frustration to the process. The more that this happens the easier it can be to start to get burnt out creatively, and soon enough the fun and passion is lost in what we do.

If we start to lose our passion, we can lose sight of why we do what we do, and that is one of the beautiful things about being creative, it is a job that requires passion, and the reward(non monetary though that can also be nice) of breathing life into someone’s vision is very satisfying.

All of us are in different positions (in-house, part time, independent, all off the above) so finding resolution to keep from losing focus, passion, and the enjoyment that comes with what we do can be difficult. So my resolution is that we value our design, in my recent reading and experience I have come across some principles and practices that are a great standards to set in an effort to value our design.

Below I have listed 5 things that when put into play can make our careers/pursuit of careers as creatives more fulfilling, and when we work form the position of being more fulfilled in what we do we increase our chances for success, growth, and the ability to have a positive influence in our design community, jobs, and with our clients. These points are gathered from reading, experience (failure and success),and conversations. They are not a magic solution,it is up to each of us to apply them to our own situation.

1) Work on Things That Matter.
We all have projects that we get excited about, and then there are those projects that we would rather not think about. Either way as I have said before we offer a service that is not as common, and from time to time we will have the opportunity to use it to give back. I am not promoting spec work
but  what I am endorsing is using our talents to support something of value.

I recently had an opportunity to participate in One Day For Human Rights, now my involvement wasn’t huge, but I had the opportunity to educate others about a humanitarian crisis that we all can help with. I simply wrote an article and put a graphic on my site, but to see others like Anca Foster work diligently at getting others involved, was inspiring to think I am able to support something worthwhile with my trade and abilities is very fulfilling and I highly recommend it.

2) Work with people you like and respect.
This sounds simple, but working for and with people that you do not respect for whatever reason is just not worth it no matter how big the money or prestigious the project. It will take it’s toll. So as much as you have the opportunity work for and with people that you respect. Even if you don’t know the people you work with all that well, find common ground, get to know them keep it professional but getting to know about them will really help in building respect for them, or learning that they may not be the type of people that you would like to work with. I am very fortunate to work for a boss that I highly respect, and during the hard times it makes it that much easier.

3) Set the Bar High.
If you constantly challenge your self with reasonable goals you will continue to grow as a designer/developer. Take pride in your work, it feels good to have preformed a job well done.  As much as you have the influence, don’t settle for second best.

4) Have a sense of humor.
There is nothing more damaging to our fulfillment then taking ourselves to seriously, learn to laugh at yourself, and enjoy what you do. You can do this and still approach your job as a professional I promise. It will make your job more enjoyable, and most likely improve your relationship with those you work with. This is a nice way to continue the process of being fulfilled in your job.

5) Be Open to Change
I know that we strive to be experts… and some of us very well may be experts, but even so we can always learn and grow as creatives. Be willing to try a path you hadn’t originally planned, be open to the ideas of others, it will broaden your perspectives and you might learn things that you wouldn’t of learned otherwise. Along with having a sense of humor being open to change makes you easy to work with, and definitely lends towards being more fulfilled in what you do.

I am sure there are other things that we can do to value our design/development, I would love to hear what you may do that helps you to value what you do and can lead to a more fulfilling experience. I know that this post was a bit long winded (i could have kept going) but i do think that this is a crucial element to our growth and enjoyment in what we do for fun or for a living.

Let me know what your opinions are, have I lost my mind? did i leave something out? I would love to hear your feedback.

~ Aaron I

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11. December 2008 by Aaron Irizarry
Categories: Design/Development | Tags: , , , , | 50 comments

Comments (50)

  1. Great post Aaron. I am personally dealing with some crazy stress lately. I don’t know if its the holidays, that I’m gonna be a dad or that I sometimes feel under appreciated or all of the above. You have made several excellent points. My favorite is to have a sense of humor. If I couldn’t laugh about the things that go wrong and stress me out on a daily basis I would be the guy on the roof with an assault rifle. Thanks for the inspiration to keep my self a bit more centered.

    Arron Lock’s last blog post..Together We Can Change The World

    • @Arron
      I know how you feel man, it can be very disheartening when you feel under appreciated. Dwelling on the issues usually only makes them worse. It is good that you can look at them with a light heart. Keep at it man and don’t get discouraged, having two kids myself i know that it puts things in a whole new light… especially when they are on the way.

  2. Definitely a good post, I would think that if you truly value design, you should also be perfectly okay with failure; having design something with heart, failure to achieve the intended results should leave you with the resounding feeling of hope towards new ideas, not any negative feelings.

    I would have to say I personally value my design, both at the design studio and when I’m just scribbling away at home or trying something new. Great post all the same and I look forward to more.

    Fred McCoy | Megalongcat’s last blog post..Designing Societies: What is a “Good” Designer?

  3. Good post. Definitely agree with #4.

    I must as one important question.. what was the dish in the “Boss” photo?? Looks like you were eating Chinese, I’m guessing it was a whole fish? It made me hungry.

    Jin’s last blog post..Michael Kenna

  4. Nice post Aaron. I think the thing that frustrates me the most are unnecessary meetings. Ug!

  5. Very nice post Aaron. Your design is awesome by the way, very clean. I like.

    David Perel’s last blog post..Technique for creating a hand drawn website

  6. Very well done Aaron nice post. True of many many fields not just design as well. Must also be rewarding to have possitive feed back from Arron and David who also do beautiful things.
    I will look forward to reading and seeing more of your work.


    • @Robert,
      Thanks for posting, very true these concepts are easily applied outside of the design world.
      Yes I will say I am humbled by their comments.

  7. I guess that an obvious one for me is to avoid spec work and contests like the plague. At least contests that require you to come up with new work specifically for entering them. At the very least, that’s an idea giveaway. If you’re determined to do pro bono work, there are plenty of legitimate worthy causes that deserve support and desperately need help.

    Remember: if you don’t value what you do, you can’t expect abyone else to.

    Stephen Tiano’s last blog post..The Subtle Art of Pairing Serif and Sans Serif Typefaces, Part II

    • @Stephen
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on the article. Great point about giving your work to a worthy cause if you are going to give it away.
      I am going to write this quote on the whiteboard in the office – “Remember: if you don’t value what you do, you can’t expect abyone else to.”

  8. Aaron, excellent article and some very valuable points not only for designers, but for anyone.

    I’d like to add one additional tip, based on my own experience: take care of yourself. By this I mean, physically & even spiritually. When we feel good about ourselves it is reflected in our work.

    As a general rule I try NOT to criticize another designer’s work because I’m not aware of the underlying circumstances surrounding the job; many that you mention above. I will however, look at someone’s work to in awareness of what I thought worked best or NOT.

    Thanks for the post. Happy Holidays.

  9. So nice honest post… thanks
    Bosses I wouldn’t respect telling me I’m wrongs been the story of my life… Well also #5

  10. Very nicely put! It is always good to have something positive to read in the morning. These are good points to apply for life in general! Thanks to John Phillips (@jwphillips on for the Tweet and pointing me in this direction!

    All the best and thanks for sharing!

    • @David R Haslam – Glad you liked the post… thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      @alberto – thanks

      @Joann Sondy – Thanks for posting a comment. Great thought about taking care of ourselves.

  11. Had to come back for re-read which is often the case for me as sometimes in my haste I fail to realize and retain everything which is bad especially when it’s (+) as this is.

    We all are guilty of retaining the (-)negatives which is disturbing… but I for one am trying to work on that.

    Enjoyed Stevens remark: Remember: if you don’t value what you do, you can’t expect abyone else to.


    please note: I didn’t correct the spelling as I’m definately not one to point the finger at abyone else.


  12. I’ve been there, and I couldn’t agree with you more!

  13. love your new banner photo, haha.

    zach Hodges’s last blog post..Irizarry Family!

  14. Aaron,

    Again, sorry about your site going down and having to regroup everything together and get your comments back up to snuff. It looks like everything is getting back to normal though. So that’s good.

    Now reading back over this post again has brought some new things to life for me. Mainly the part about working with people you respect. Because within the last few weeks of sitting in meetings with my boss and other clients, I have listened to these conversations that just get garbled in my head and I don’t know what to think. It reminds me of that saying “garbage in, garbage out”. Where I feel like nothing of value is going to come out of this project. And I’m trying to make the most of it here at work. I try and take things in stride and look at them as learning experiences.

    But at the same time I don’t feel comfortable stepping out on my own two feet yet. Just ready for a break, and that comes next week.

    Thanks again.

    kyle steed’s last blog post..tree of life

    • @Kyle,
      Thanks for posting man.
      Sometimes all we can do is weather the storm. I am sure having a break will help you recharge your batteries.
      When you get those busy weeks plagued with meetings It can be so frustrating, you just have to do your best to find the balance of when to speak up, and when to let it go.
      I am pullin for ya man… get some nice relaxing time on your break

  15. This is really good advice and i completely agree. All is somewhat difficult to achieve, but working hard to get exactly what you want is always worth it. Once you have those things, one can truly be happy with their work and that is the ultimate goal.

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  17. @aaron

    thanks man.

    kyle steed’s last blog post..tree of life

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  19. I think for me the big thing is keeping myself challenged on a consistent basis.

    If I am not challenged I lose interest in anything that I do. I am not happy to just engage in mediocre activities no matter what it is I am doing in life.

    I am frequently looking for digital design tutorials to sharpen my skills and to also discover new skills as well.

    The other thing I resonate with is being open to change. Things are constantly changing in technology and digital design and you have to adapt to those changes or at the very minimum be aware of the changes so that you stay in the loop.

    One thing that I do is not take myself to seriously and just have fun with what I do. After all if you aren’t going to have fun with design then why do it. This can also go with other fields out there. You have to enjoy doing what you do on a daily basis.

    Joe Cheray aka wildheart4vr’s last blog post..Pretty In Pink

  20. I don’t think you left anything out. These advices can sometimes be easily overlooked. I think that the most important parts are setting the bar high and having a sense of humor. With these too, you will always manage to get over your expectations and you will always be proud of the end result. Great post!

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  25. Great post. Sometimes it feels like our jobs are so detached from our emotions but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I indeed believe that if things get stressful, the quality of the work suffers: especially creative work. It’s just a left vs. right brain thing.

    If stressors create a “fight” or “flight” response in people, we’re probably right just requesting a holiday…neither of those sound like “make art.”


    Andrew Maier’s last blog post..Are you Losing Traffic from Poor Findability?

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  29. Thanks for sharing this article about importance of design.

    Logo Design Duabi’s last blog post..3D Architectural Visualization Services Dubai UAE

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  33. Great post Aaron :)
    You touched on some very important things for life in general let alone the design world.
    I would add that many of these elements enable each other. For example, it is difficult to push yourself / raise the bar if you take yourself too seriously (which renders people inflexible) and are not open to change / a new way of looking at things which is usually what leads to that next level :)

    Does that make sense or did I just talk in a big circle? hee hee
    .-= ´s last blog ..job, job, who has a job? [the ever-growing mega job list for creatives] =-.

  34. I think you need to enable comment replies bro. :) Nice post though, rings VERY true for me.

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  36. I’m looking for a designer right now for my website. I did not realize that so much work and thought went into the designs. I guess you have to be passionate with anything you do to do it well.

    .-= ´s last blog ..Lift and Tilt Table =-.

  37. I totally agree with Joann. We as web and graphic designers should take good care of ourselves. We rely on our health to keep up with the pressures and fatigues in doing projects and how we feel good about ourselves reflects the outcome of what we do.

    Value everything around you — your client, your projects, your job, your designs, value yourself. Great post Aaron.

  38. Having a sense of humor definitely helps.

  39. Great article. I especially like your ‘sense of humor’ and ‘be open to change’ points. Design can be so subjective, and you’ll only be down on yourself if you can’t take some criticism for your work.

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