Simplicity is such an easy line to cross, such a hard boundary to be contained in, but such a beauty to contemplate. Simplicity is not plainness. It is the art of creating something that remains true to its purpose and lacks flamboyant vanity. Its beauty is so, that it is not merely a fassade mascarading the void inside, but rather it is the essence of purity radiating from its core.
You must ask yourself: “Is all this fluff neccesary? Why start with the small details in mind, rather than outlining the whole? Is this sustainable and timeless? Is the glitter and bling the only thing that makes this creation appealing?” If you answered yes to any of this, my only reply is: “Keep it simple, stupid.”
We’ve all been there, you’re next in line for an interview or presentation and you’re just going to wing it and see how it goes. Surely your charm is enough to captivate an audience and your memory enough to bring jealousy to an elephant. But then when the moment of truth comes you’ve got your foot stuck so far up your mouth that it would take a bucket of lard just to get the thing wiggling out. If you’re relying on the human mind versus the vast cosmos of improbability and possibility, you might be almost, but not quite, entirely disappointed when you you fudge your next meeting. Let’s fix that.
1. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best
Make a presentation and outline of answers to common questions you may receive, then brainstorm for ones you may not expect. Ask other people in your field what are some odd questions and situations they were in, and what the best way to go about them is.
2. Have your best work ready
I totally screwed this one. I had expected my potential client to have already looked through my work and had been satisfied. Yes he did, but he wanted a glimpse into my design process. Unless you have a kickass case study for yourself that details how you went about each project and shows that you’re not just a pixel pushing donkey, but also a coldly calculating and meticulous visionary who understands their craft and grinds problems to dust with the sole of the boots you may find yourself repeating things a lot. It also helps if you’re not a cocky know-it-all dolt. That really doesn’t go across well. There are ways you can show to be knowledgeable without being arrogant.
3. Look presentable
It’s no mystery that a common stereotype of freelancers is that we work in our pajamas in our grandmother’s basements. While this may be true for some, it certainly is a small majority, if any. However, regardless of if this is you or not, there are little things that can make a difference. Always dress professionally for a meeting, even if it’s a Skype call; you never know if the client wants to turn on the video to get a look at you. Hoodies and fuzzy slippers will only get you so far. Then there’s the whole issue of dressing for success. I don’t know how, but whenever I dress like a champ, I feel like a champ.
4. Learn a couple of syllables
Not all of us are extroverts, and God knows I haven’t always been, and that I can easily go back to my introvertic tendencies, but what I did was force myself out of my comfort zone. All around me I saw go getters, while opportunities swam past me, so I made the decision that I’d force myself to be one, to speak like I’m confident, even though I could probably get a job as a part time vibrating massager, for how I was feeling inside. You need to speak confidently, write something up if you have to, and try to sound intelligent. Again, this is an opportunity to ask others who have experience how to carry yourself.
This is not bulletproof, we all know that. There will always be unexpected things and clients or otherwise people who are just completely off the charts. But hey, make the best of it all and have a blast at it.
I like to clean and stay organized. It really helps me stay in a good mood, find things, and it gives me a productivity boost. Yet it’s so easy to fall into the trap of incrementally losing control of it all. Every second I lose looking for something through the clutter I’ve created becomes a minute, and those minutes eventually become hours of productivity lost. It’s the same thing with your mind, the more junk you keep in there, the harder it will be stay focused and find the right thoughts.
Next time you download a neat little jQuery library or icon set you find, why not make sure that before you even open the file you put it in a folder where you know you’ll find it? Next time you go to bed and change into your sleeping garment, why not make sure you fold it neatly so you don’t start a pile? Oh, and here’s a good one, next time you start a client project, why not organize your thoughts, assets, and tasks for your project so that you’re not as a butterfly, fluttering from flower to flower and stay on task?
Have purpose, direction, integrity, and focus. You cannot do this without a clean mind and enviroment. Take the first step, because people are hardly going to do it for you. Seek, organize, learn, and conquer. That or hire a butler.
If something gets under my skin, it has to be arrogance, specifically in the design community. I’m talking about those individuals who are so stuck up that they consider themselves the gods and leaders aboves us all. They’re usually the big-mouthed self-declared Messiahs of code and design. A lot of the time, they are quite brilliant and have quite a powerful message to share, but sometimes, I wouldn’t be able to pick them from the rest of the crayons in the box if I tried. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, I’m really not, but my main concern with this is that we seem to be missing the picture here.
I know I say this a lot, but we’re pioneers, that is, the crafters of this new world that is constantly evolving. Look around you! You see that chair over there? That was designed by someone. That door, that candy box, those shoes? You guessed it: all made by someone with a vision. Someone unique and creative just like you. Maybe they can’t escalate the Mt. Everest of awesomeness like you can, but the reality is they’re builders just like you and me. That new designer who has no sense of color and balance even if it were in the shape of a 2x4 slapping them across the face? Him too. Maybe rough around the edges, but why not help him out, say, give him some tips and send him on his way instead of making him feel like trash?
I find myself guilty of this as well, but if our intention is design a better world, why not start with ourselves first? Get to know the world you live in. Stop keeping your circle so tight, stop despising creative minds because they’re young, old, lacking talent, and (as I’ve come to find out is happening) don’t you dare look down on a designer because they’re a gal. I will personally deliver a freshly baked round-house Falkon kick if I see you doing this. Moving along.
I found myself really annoyed at any designer who I saw as competition especially if they lived close to me, but I realized that they’re human just like me and it’s so much better to make friends than enemies. Why not get to know them? See how they think and pick their brains?
Okay, my point is, we’re a community and in a sense we’re all we have, because no one understands us better than those who do the same thing we do. Get to know people, don’t bully them, stop ignoring all their tweets, being an overall jerk, and above all, stop taking yourself so seriously. Pride goeth before fall, sayeth the Good Book, so keep that in mind.