Coping with designing in a corporate world

As part of the 522 Productions team for the past 3 years as a motion graphics designer, I’ve had the unique perspective as a working artist in the corporate design field while still searching to be fulfilled as an artist.

One of the thoughts I’ve been mulling over the past few years since graduating from college is how to cope with creating work for a client rather than for what I call the online design community. For instance, when I was in college my main impetus was to create works that I felt were unique. I didn’t have to send it away for approval; I simply created and published them, and every now and then I would receive a critique from the online community. But all in all, design was a personal craft that was self satisfying.

In the corporate world, there are parameters derived from a goal defined by the client. In short, you design work for others and consequently the hardest notion to grasp is making design choices that support the work and make the client happy… rather than making myself happy. I know this sounds extremely elementary, but it was very difficult for me because I am the type of person who becomes very attached to my work. It used to be disheartening for me when my designs were changed because I put my heart and soul into each of my designs and a change in my eyes was equivalent to calling me “unskilled” or “talentless”.

However, there is hope! If you’re not used to receiving critiques, use the online design community as a means of “toughening up”. Go online and ask for critiques from others. If you’re like me – you become  depressed with every negative comment. But over time, the sting will decrease and you will be able to understand the critique and know how to make the design better.

If you are used to getting critiques but changes still infuriate you, just realize that in the corporate world, you are designing for the company and not for yourself. The overall goal is to make the piece better for the client, and hopefully gain some type of creative satisfaction.

I know gaining creative satisfaction may not be possible on every project, and that there are those long stretches of time where you may not feel like you’re designing anything that speaks to you. This is where going online and being inspired by the online design community and creating personal works becomes very handy.  It serves as a twofold function – first, you get to experiment with concepts that are not as likely to be accepted in the corporate design community; and second, it strengthens your skill-set.

In conclusion, remember that designing for the corporate community and the online design community don’t have to be exclusive from one another. Realize the circumstances of working in the corporate community – such as fast turn arounds, hard deadlines, and quickly changing direction – and apply those to your personal work and vice-versa. Ultimately, use each community to your benefit, don’t be afraid of the critique. And most importantly, have fun designing.

P.S. – If you’re interested in some of the personal work I’ve been up to, checkout this short documentary I recently completed.

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