Our design team have been thinking recently. What does it actually mean to be a designer?

It’s not just producing perfectly positioned editorial design or visualising large scale campaigns, the reality is that being a designer in a fast paced agency comes with its challenges. These challenges are not always related to design ability, they can manifest in planning problems, communication with clients and stresses of a never ending schedule. So, what did our design team have to say?

“We don’t produce “art for art’s sake” our design has to move people and move them to action. Creativity comes easy to us but the real skill to learn is managing the process, strategy and producing business winning work to the client’s schedule.”
Jess Black, Head of Design at ditto


“If you’re passionate and dedicated just trust in the process – believe in your individual and team ability, the outcome will speak for itself”
Jess Migliore, Designer



Be kind to yourself, learning is hard, design is easy

Learning new skills is one of the most satisfying and frustrating things you can do as a designer, but if you give yourself the time and space to do this, design will soon feel like second nature to you. When learning a new skill, like a software or a way of thinking which is new to you, it’s really easy to beat yourself up when things aren’t going the way you think they should.

There are two points here, the first one being that learning is hard. If you are a creative person who needs to learn by doing, there is no linear structure. The best thing you can do is to get stuck in and play, and view learning like playing with a new tool. For a lot of people learning through play is common, by using your hands to create marks and bring them into design, or by experimenting with software. The frustrating side to everything will come when you are in this play stage, when your ambition to create and your technical ability doesn’t quite match up. This is where the frustrated creative can rear its head and you often feel as if you can’t do it, or that you aren’t very good. Know this: your ambition and your skills will soon match up, and the thing you see in your head will soon be possible to bring to life.

The second point is about the way you think it should go. This is an expectation that should be left at the door; no project will ever be the way you expect. This is where the joy lies in being a creative – your eyes and mind need to be open to looking and thinking about the possibilities, and not setting expectations for yourself or your work. This can be a freeing and liberating approach and can feel much less stressful. You have to trust in the process and not let moments of “this is not going the way I thought it would” creep in. Ideas are there and you just have to catch them.


It’s not about you, it’s about them

Whenever anyone gives you their opinion, know that it’s their opinion of the work, don’t take it personally. Critique is a good thing, and you should always give it too. Don’t say “that looks nice” as it won’t help anyone. Expect the same for your work.


Clients can be challenging when things go wrong

You are basically working on their baby, and it’s a precious baby. If a client sees that even a small thing goes wrong or isn’t quite working (especially on a website), they will probably freak out, and blame you. But it’s really not your fault. Take a breath, know that no one has died and deal with it in a calm and considered way. Everything can be fixed in this way.

Whenever something goes wrong, it always feels like the end of the world but in reality, it’s obviously not. Mistakes happen, it’s just the way we are, and mistakes always happen when you are learning. It’s not what happened, it’s how you deal with it now that matters. You can’t take back past mistakes, all you can do is learn from them and not repeat them.


Show off your work rather than hiding it from being open to critique and change. Sharing your ideas and challenging yourself to do something new and different will bring you as much confidence as you let it, as long as you listen and take on board what people are saying to you.


Source article: Its Nice That 

Why not chat to our design team and discuss how they deal with design stresses and celebrations
Jess Black & Jess Migliore.