This is a bit of a weird question, but it’s one the we’ve been asked before by students, so here we are…
The answer to this question, will come from your own definition of what is a good industry. A place to make lots of money? Lots of friends? To get some fulfilment from your life? Or just to be happy? It doesn’t have to be one, it could be all of them. Ultimately you get out, what you put in. Take these 2 freelance designer scenarios…
Kanye works from home. He rarely gets up from his desk, let alone leave the house. He doesn’t bother getting dressed - why bother! He can sit in front of his computer all day in just his boxers. His favourite pastimes include trawling through Brand New, confidently explaining why todays new rebrand is awful and has terrible kerning. Sometimes he’ll even re-do the 4 months of work the studio did on his lunch break, to prove a point. He can also be found on twitter, harking back to the good old days of Macromedia Freehand and ZIP drives.
Kim freelances for both clients, and studios. This means one week she may be working from home, a coffee shop, the shared workspace she has a desk at, or in-house at a local studio. Meeting so many people has opened her network, and she gets passed a lot of varied work. She attends the odd creative gathering, and keeps herself active at her local running club, where she gives back by designing their branding.
Now both of these examples could be happy, this isn’t about judging. Personally, I’d rather be the person experiencing different work environments, meeting new people, and giving back to causes that I have a true passion for. Carve out your own journey, and it can be a great place to be.
Design can be stressful. Sometimes really stressful. When things go wrong, and clients are angry it’s easy to get caught up in it all. But then you need to remember some perspective. Are you a surgeon with a patient dying on your operating table? No. Are you a pilot trying to successful land a packed plane when the wings have fallen off? No. You’re a designer. There are worst things in life than bad kerning.
For us, purpose has become our priority. Our first years were spent chasing money. Money keeps the business ticking over, but purpose keeps the fire burning.
A project we’ve worked on that we took a lot from is Grimm & Co. One with zero budget, but spilling over with purpose. Writing these articles that you're reading — they took A LOT of time, but it's for a good reason, to help others by avoiding certain mistakes we've made.
It doesn’t have to be about giving up your time for free. But you can be selective with the clients you work with. Would you rather solely be making someone richer and richer, or helping a company make positive change. Design is a super power. Use it responsibly.
Seek purpose in your work, it makes the journey much more enjoyable.