Over the past few weeks, I have been experiencing a gradual decline in both my enthusiasm for design, and the quality of my design work. The last camel back breaking straw was working with a particularly demanding and manical client. I’m overworked, overwhelmed with requests for designs and then this one client wants to possess all my time and energy?! aaaah…the joys of being a freelance designer. Anyway, long story short, the entire working relationship kinda fell apart and we parted ways. I went on to spend the next few days in a daze trying to recover from the past two weeks of non stop 16hr work days. Slowing down caused me to confront certain truths.

1. I am not Superman. I love the man, I really do, he is my favorite super hero, which explains why I have followed the convoluted and sometimes utterly ridiculous plot of Smallville right from Season 1 to its present final season 10. But….I am not him. There is a limit to how much work I can take. As much as I would love to work 24/7/365.25, I can’t :-(, and the cycles of downtime and uptime exist for a reason. The one is just as important as the other.

2. Give adults a box of crayons and they will go BUCK!!!! lol, no one can resist the allure of being creative, and so clients will come up with solutions for their projects and insist you execute them no matter how weak or absurd the idea may seem to your ‘expert’ opinion. So gently remind them why they hired you and steer them to proper design solutions, or if the money is that good to assuade your conscience, STFU, smile and do as they say….dance puppet! dance!

3. All clients are not equal, try and work with the best ones and slowly fade the others out. The best clients being those who pay well, communicate clearly, understand the process, and give you the space and trust to do what you do best. The worst…well just the opposite of that.

4. I ain’t touching my keyboard or mouse to work on your project without a 50% deposit in my bank account. No more mr nice designer, got too many clients owing me because I trusted them to deliver their ‘much needed’ poster and expect prompt payment. Some of them actually would gush and ooh and aah over the design, telling me about how good I am and how I am the best thing since Micheal-freakin-angelo. Nah dawg, don’t praise me….PAY me!!

5. And this is probably the most important thing. I am not a designer.

I mean, ‘I am not ‘just’ a designer’. I am so much more, and there is a bunch of other skills, ideas, dreams, visions and goals laying dormant that I have shelved to to take on this identity of designer. As much as I love it, it shouldn’t consume me totally.

6. Design has become so…bleh…especially around these circles. I don’t know but doesn’t it seem like we all using the same style, designing the same things. I can’t remember the last time i saw a WOW design. A lot of work I see around look good, but say nothing. What happened to the communication? My lecturer once told me that, ‘There are a lot of photoshop technicians and not a lot of designers’. My first impulse was to argue, but now, I agree 100% with her. We are not saying a lot lately, and that’s not good.

So….in lieu of all that, I’ve decided to chill a bit, slow down the design work, and experiment more. I’m also dusting off old ideas, dreams and interests and working on them. It’s time to expand 

*A word from our Sponsors: If you are around Gauteng, South Africa, do swing by to COfi Hatfield, Pretoria on Sunday 6th March for RedLife Sundays, Mesmerised Edition with 2SABmodels. bound to be a blast!

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