How Getting Passionate About The Small Jobs Changed My Life
There are always a certain number of ‘bread and butter’ jobs in graphic design. The sort that may not be the most exciting, but they keep the lights on.
When you get your first job as a *professional*, you are excited to be given anything at all to work on. Everything’s new, and thrilling, and you haven’t done the same bread and butter job a thousand times yet. It’s enough to just be designing something.
Over time this becomes boring.
Because that’s the way with all things. But also because the learning stops and the curious mind always seeks new challenges. And the worst thing about studio work is you get pigeonholed – the more you do of one thing, the more of it your are asked to do. Which becomes repetitive.
And then there’s ambition – the ambition to work on big budget, high-spec jobs. That plays a part too.
A couple of years ago, I had a revelation that hit me with great force. I realised that the jobs were only as exciting as I made them.
Then I realised that although there will always be some jobs that won’t end up the way I would like them because of reasons outside my control, a lot of what I was doing was ending up sub-par because I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was seeing them as small jobs. As low budget jobs. As jobs constrained by strict corporate style guides or without much scope for innovation. I had pigeonholed the work.
I waited for those jobs with bigger budgets, higher profiles or better briefs to really cut loose. And those don’t come along very often – why was I waiting until they do to have fun?
But I also realised something else apart from the effect on my own personal enjoyment of my work.
I realised it with horror.
This lack of excitement about the straightforward jobs meant I wasn’t actually doing my job properly. Is not the job of a graphic designer to communicate, innovate and beautify ALL projects? Not just the exciting ones? It was time to change.
As soon as I shifted this paradigm, my working life changed dramatically. I saw new opportunities to improve regular jobs I had been working on for years. I found ways to better interpret those strict style guides. I searched for the ideas that would make the simplest jobs sing. And I pushed myself a bit harder to create a few more concepts, instead of sending out the ones I wasn’t entirely happy with.
I made one simple change to my thinking, and it made a world of difference to my work and my enjoyment of it.
Now I don’t wait for my dream jobs to get excited – instead I make every job my dream job. Just like it was when I started.
That feeling of magic I used to feel is back, and I can’t wait to get started on each new job. I do better work and take more pride in it. And I innovate and learn every day with ease and a ravenous hunger for more. Just like being a student again… but with the benefit of experience.
This is as good as it gets.
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