The only way a designer can truly grow is through trial and error. I’ve made a lot of mistakes throughout my career, but it’s the failures and mistakes that led to my current success.
Having learnt from my blunders, I want to educate my fellow designers. That said, here is a list of 7 mistakes designers should avoid making. The mistakes on this list has helped me grow and I hope they will help you too.
#7: Didn’t attend networking events
Some believe networking events are a waste of time. This couldn’t be any more false. Attending networking events will allow you to become connected to key influencers in the design community.
And yes, you can also land a gig. Agencies and creative recruiters are always on the hunt for talent at networking events. I landed a freelance position with BET Networks at one of these events.
#6: Followed design trends
Keeping up with the latest design trends can be a positive thing, but trends quickly come and go. When deciding whether to incorporate any trends in your designs, use your best judgment. Always remember the main goal of any design: to create something with substance, something that’s timeless.
#5: Believed everyone was an enemy
As a designer, you are trained to defend your work against “negative feedback”. If you wish to truly grow, you have to let this defensive attitude go. Be open minded and really consider any critiques you receive. Better yet, apply the suggested tweaks and do a side-by-side comparison of the revised and original creative.
#4: Didn’t showcase a completed portfolio
I cannot stress this enough. If you are applying or interviewing for any visual design position, then make sure your online and/or print portfolio is ready.
Web designers should make sure all the navigation links on their site are working properly. Graphic designers should have a neatly printed portfolio such as a book or mini-booklet. If you are having trouble creating a portfolio booklet, check out 2K— the sexiest pocket style portfolio template.
#3: Worked without a contract
I first started freelancing without a contract, but it wasn’t long before I realized I had to develop one! If you’re a freelancer, don’t be naive! Learn what to include in your next contract.
#2: Worked overtime for free
Designers who work on an hourly-based wage often put in a lot of extra unpaid overtime to prove they’re a valuable asset to their employers or clients. Although working overtime shows great work ethic, don’t do it for free. Always charge for your time and limit any exceptions to this policy. If you do it once, then it will become expected in the future.
#1: Wasn’t honest…Well, not all the time
I am designer enough to admit it… I’ve slightly stretched the truth during an interview in the beginning stages of my career.
I was interviewing for a position that required intermediate HTML skills and at the time, I only had basic knowledge of HTML. Since I really wanted (and needed) the job, I over-exaggerated my HTML skills to the Creative Director. Epic failure!
During the interview, the Creative Director decided to have me take an HTML skill test which I failed miserably. Save yourself the embarrassment. Be truthful about your skills and experience. Remember, honesty is always the best policy.
What other mistakes should designers avoid? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment on this post and telling us the biggest mistakes you’ve made.
Kyhry Taylor is an art director with over seven years of experience. He has worked on global advertising campaigns for Hilton Worldwide, Lancôme Paris and BET Networks. Kyhry is also the creator of KyhryT.com, a design blog offering the latest design gossip, trends and even free templates.
Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net