2014: Year in Review

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is almost here.

It almost seems that just yes­ter­day we were start­ing 2014. This has been a very busy year here at Two Lands Cre­ative and it’s time to look back over things because… well… year-​end reviews are cool.

I did a lot of projects in 2014 and met a lot of awe­some folks in the process. While talk­ing about the work that was done is a good way to show off all those cool projects again, I want to focus on some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent this year. Instead of talk­ing about the work I want to write about what I learned this year as a free­lance designer.

The lit­tle things mat­ter… a lot

I’m def­i­nitely not the first one to say this but the lit­tle things you do for your clients really help build rela­tion­ships and rela­tion­ships are the cor­ner­stone to build­ing a solid base of reg­u­lar clients. This can take many forms. Whether it’s push­ing a project just a lit­tle far­ther so it really shines or pulling off a sur­prise project to help a client out of a bind, the lit­tle things add up and build trust and respect with your clients just as much as hav­ing a rock star portfolio.

Just look­ing cool doesn’t cut it

We design­ers like pretty things and we work hard to make our own work beau­ti­ful, but we can’t let our­selves get blinded just by the visual appeal of our work. We have to make our work beau­ti­ful and func­tional if we are to be suc­cess­ful. Part of that means hav­ing a rea­son for the choices you make as you design a piece. It’s not enough to just make things look cool, you’ve got to think through why you are doing some­thing so you can give your clients a rea­son­able answer if they ask why you made the choices you did or if those choices are the best ones. You might find your rea­sons aren’t the best and your client has a bet­ter rea­son that changes the design as a result. As Mirko Ilic said, “Think eight hours, work two hours.”

Try some­thing new

When you are under a tight dead­line it’s pretty easy to fall back on what you know will work but part of being a bet­ter, more com­pe­tent designer is being open to new things and exper­i­ment­ing with new ideas. If you are feel­ing like your stuck in a rut, do some­thing dif­fer­ent even if that means try­ing some­thing you nor­mally wouldn’t consider.

A job isn’t just a job

A big thing I leaned this year was to say no. Not every job is a job you should take even when you feel you need the money. Tak­ing a job just because it’s there is a great way to end up with poor clients and mediocre results. Instead, get to know poten­tial clients and take jobs that you find are a good fit for you. In the short term you’ll prob­a­bly turn down a few jobs but as Michael Bierut said “If you do good work for good clients, it will lead to other good work for other good clients. If you do bad work for bad clients, it will lead to other bad work for other bad clients.”

With the new year upon us in few hours, I hope you all have an awe­some 2015! Make mis­takes, learn from them, and keep doing great work!

Aaron Dickey
Author: Aaron Dickey

I’m a graphic designer from Greenville, South Car­olina. When I’m not work­ing, you can usu­ally find me read­ing about design, study­ing type, or paint­ing tiny war gam­ing minia­tures in my spare time. I try to keep up with this blog to record my thoughts on design, typog­ra­phy, or pro­vide tuto­ri­als for paint­ing miniatures.