It’s actually quite safe to say that I don’t usually follow the predictable path through a decision I’ve made. As I’ve been saying since the age of 2, strive to “do it all by self”, and seriously, do I ever. I’m hard pressed to think of an influential figure in my life that didn’t try to talk me out of whatever decision I felt passionate in making. I mean we’re talking friends, teachers, guidance counselors, professors, yes, even my parents– you name it.
At first I thought this was some grand test thrown onto me from the universe, a karmic Mt. Everest sized “Prove you Deserve it” grand gesture.
No no. It’s because I am glaringly unconventional.
The traditional never seems to make sense to me, and to do things the way just because it is the way it has always been done? Clearly, we have never thought certain rituals through.
I am too curious to accept “Because” as an answer, and too vocal to ever stop asking the questions.
The strange thing is, even though I can be ruthlessly driven to perfection, my aim is never to be disrespectful or irreverant. It comes from a desire to understand (and well yeah, I guess challenge..) the preconceived, the taken-for-granted’s. Being challenged strengthened my perseverance, my reserve and ultimately my passion and ambition to be the best I can be- regardless of title or role. How can I not bring this into my daily process and ultimately my work method? While I would be caught in an outrageous lie to say I enjoyed being opposed mid-challenge, I would be so ignorant to deny it’s role in my growth and every day life, and so I continue on the path I believe is best for me, regardless of the nay sayers.
What’s best for everyone may not be best for you, and it’s taken my entire 27 years on this planet to know that that is okay. Trying to fit yourself into the wrong setting, regardless of how much effort is put into it, will rarely work, and the chances are even fewer that it will make you happy. It is, (and I am taking this analogy very personally) like squishing a sparkly unicorn into a cube sized slot- messy and uncomfortable, and definitely not worth it.
So what does that mean? and how can I use this wonderfully quirk-embracing philosophy towards my business? You may be possibly having this thought right now.
Yeah, I thought about that.
1. Embrace it, baby!
Basically, being a designer for an individual can be a lot like therapy. You listen to people’s stories, opinions about themselves, ambitions, likes and dislikes, as well as mid-design feedback. The amount of hesitation and fear of failing involved in the wording, coupled with the surprisingly deafening ability to incapacitate one’s knowledge of adjectives! But I do it too. Faced with decisions, especially important ones– I often begin my opinion with “Is it weird that…?” Which brings me to my point, no it’s not WEIRD. It’s personal, and persons ARE weird. It’s the whole collective society that’s normal, individuals are allowed to be unique.
So yes, to someone else it could be weird that you want to combine orange and purple and hats made out of live sheep, and with this brand your photography business, but who cares? You are branding yourself, and how you want to be known and represented. How can you possibly represent yourself by aiming to please everyone else– especially since you can never pinpoint the opinion of everyone else. It’s just so… elusive!
Another issue I’ve run across lately is staying on a trend. Trends are awesome, they can switch things up, make old things new, and turn an expected thing on it’s head– but they should used sparingly throughout a design or brand. When you invest in getting work done professionally, you want it to last beyond this year’s visual treatment, or the coolest look your favorite store has on their site. If you see something that’s trendy, and love it and want to use it- do it! Absolutely bring it in, incorporate it, but don’t just one-note it. You’re better than that, I know it.
2. Assessing your pro’s and con’s to make it work for you
Anyone who’s had a chance to video chat with me knows I am a big softy goofball who gets super excited when talking about design, and ends up falling in love with almost every client I design for. I still get emails from people I’ve worked for 2 years ago, asking me for advice, to look things over, etc. If I could help the fact that I am so caring and loving with those I work with (which I can’t) I don’t even think I’d want to, because it’s made so many people feel that they can turn to me whenever anything goes awry, design or otherwise; and this is a feeling I want to cultivate.
While it didn’t work in a corporate setting (boy didn’t it ever), it’s who I am, and can’t turn off my big heart and huge grin because I’m in a cubicle. Realizing your strengths and weaknesses is possibly the best thing for you to do when coming to being aware of your work style, personal approach to handling clients, etc. Being genuinely you will send the right message to your targeted market, bring in more positive results with your clients, the list goes ON. Authenticity is rare these days! Make it count!
3. Realize who is most important in all of this.
And of course the answer is you. My belief is as long as you aren’t hurting anyone or yourself, who really should stand in your way?
When it comes to branding, it’s what I say to clients when they ask my opinion. Of course I will give it to them, but at the end of the day, I don’t have to love it – they do. This is pretty much true for all of life. You make decisions based on the amount of happiness and prosperity that is possible. Regardless of what’s going on, involved, whatever– strive to be happy with whatever the decision being made, and don’t settle for less. Maybe this makes my designer life difficult, so be it. I’d rather know that a client is wanting to see 10,000 variations to get that perfect 1, than tell me they are okay with everything and are secretly wishing it was different.
So I hope this gives you guys something to think about in terms of how to go about life being totally okay with being a weirdo. I do it everyday.
Fearless and awesome, and people actually will love you for it.
Try it and trust me.