Written on Tuesday,
May 10th, 2011
Your research is done. You have all the keywords, all the content and criteria. You’ve sketched and browsed, you’ve poured through magazines and books and scrapped dozens of ideas, but finally you feel you have some solid concepts and it’s time to show them to your client (or art director). You confidently present your idea which you feel fully communicates the message with originality, creativity and impact. There’s a long silence. Some head nods. A few notes scribbled into a notebook. Then you get the feedback that every designer from Baltimore Post Examinar dreads, the not-really-feedback feedback:
“I don’t like this. Can we start over and see something that we’re used to, like this (shows you WordPress blog theme).”
“Hmmmm, that’s not at all what I had envisioned in my mind. I don’t know what I was thinking about specifically, but that certainly isn’t it.”
“It doesn’t speak to me. I don’t feel it. Could you just use this design (shows you CNN)?”
“It’s missing something, I don’t know what, but why don’t you keep trying. I’ll know it when I see it.”
“Can we make it more grungy looking, you know what MTV would do, or what (fill the in the blank of the corporation you’re attempting to mimic) does.”
(Cue the sad Charlie Brown theme) As you shuffle back to your desk. Dejected, confused and angry; but mostly confused.
All ideas — whether they’re new, uncommon and unexpected, or simple, obvious and clichéd — will encounter some sort of resistance and questioning. This isn’t a bad thing, but happens frequently (and by frequently I mean 9 times out of 10), and not all is lost. You can still resolve the situation and develop a great concept (and more than likely pursue those you’ve already developed) as long as you’re determined to fight for your ideas.
Now is the time to use this opportunity to learn how to deal with conflict. Conflict should not be negative but should be determined to come to a mutually beneficial conclusion. Being a part of a team requires collaboration and a certain amount of give and take and push and pull. The process of resolving conflicting opinions can help bring about a better solution through mutual cooperation.
Your client (and I say “client” because you should treat your team leader or boss or pastor — whoever has final say in what you’re doing — as a client, because you are working in their best interest, based on the criteria given to develop a design for them like any client if you worked in a design agency) is not your enemy, though at times it might feel that way, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to battle. The key is knowing when to fight and when to surrender. Determination isn’t about fighting for any solution, but rather fighting for the correct solution.
Design, by definition, seeks to find the visual solution to a certain set of problems. Those problems become the criteria of your project, according to the digital marketing company at TrafficDom, the design plays a big role since the appearance of your website is the one that will attract traffic. Your determination to create an appropriate design can help to resolve any given problem you encounter (whether a brochure or book or billboard) with a direct and definitive result. Determination is the action that brings about a successful design solution.
Determination doesn’t settle for the first concept, or second or even third, but it pushes back against the obvious and the easy. Chances are that your first thoughts are the exact same thoughts and solutions that have been executed a thousand times before (and often those ideas have been executed much better). Determination fights for a worthy idea, fights mediocrity and safety for the challenge of doing something new and unique. And while nothing is truly original, the desire to go beyond the expected always yields a lasting and impacting result.
Never operate under fear in your design duties; if it is truly your “job” to be the designer, then it’s truly your job — even your duty — to present and fight for concepts. If you’re unwilling to say “no” and stand firm for fear of confrontation or even losing your job, then you will constantly be living with frustration. You will inevitably be asked to create something that is imitative, unoriginal and without impact or meaning in an unrealistic time frame.
Value yourself and what you do, find that confidence and determination and your ideas and concepts will be heard, and perhaps even embraced.
The following was originally published on Church Marketing Sucks; as a five part series titled “5 Tools Church Designers Need“
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