Some time ago, I started an introspection of what it means to be a designer today. I started to think about my past experiences with several clients, inhouse and as a freelancer, along with the acquired knowledge through interaction with my pupils in more than 4 years of teaching experience at a design institute, from the first until the last semester. This gave me the opportunity to contrast how are the students' current aspirations related to the reality of the market: it can be traumatic for many, for both professionals and colleagues who at some moment of their careers, have experimented that shock. I was shocked also when I saw how recently graduated designers, during the first or second year, began to change their path because, literally, the market ate them. I even felt at some point thankful with life for keeping my way inside the career I chose.
I had the opportunity to debate with these type of arguments: “it's a matter of talent,” “how good you are as a creative” or “forget about the talent, it all depends on the contacts you have.” Certainly, each one of these arguments is valid according to the glass from which is being looked through, but the true challenge to overcome is to exercise a career as multifaceted as the one of the designer and that can result positively as sustainable. Unlike other professions, the designer's work is not anonymous, it's public and notorious, it has contact with people, communicates a message; an interaction exists, and that's fascinating. One just doesn't have to address a consumer audience, but clients or possible clients, as well as to colleagues. This way, one can find graphic works, publicity or campaigns that seem to seek more the technical admiration of designers or agencies, than to catch the audience's attention. This seems to be a very recurrent motivation: the desire to be recognized for your job, to be the genesis of a new trend, to turn into some kind of “rockstar designer.”
When I stated myself the term “rockstar”, this image came to my mind: Getting out of a latest trend vehicle and walking through the red carpet of the most famous design agency while paparazzis were trying to capture the moment, as journalists were trying to find out for which client I was working for at that moment. A piece of news worth to be broadcasted on E!. But, truth be told, a rockstar in this industry goes beyond being a self-inducted star.
The new designers are entrepreneurs who feel that there are chances in their field and thus, they become agents of change. Once they start this journey, they emerge as a guide that is supposed to lead and to keep up with the demands. They won't be able to cover everything and that will lead them to delegate tasks. For that, they will have to learn to determine who they can lean on, to know how to motivate others, to have courage to break the rules and to keep an open mind.
A rockstar designer builds his career reinventing himself all the time, he doesn't stop being updated in the latest trends, he always tries to get the best out of the tools he has at his disposal, loves challenges and enjoys more the creation process rather than the final product process. Above all, he's an example of what he does.
If this was about finding a concept, my definition would be: “A rockstar designer is a creative change agent who is not afraid to make mistakes waiting for the best, his objective is to be able to connect.” Maybe I would summarize him as a “passionate dreamer.”
In the meantime I have been practicing my design career, I have been able to find network opportunities with a lot of interesting people, from whom I have learned a lot; among them, (from small to big) company owners, art and creative directors, successful freelancers and agency owners. The common characteristic between all of them is their entrepreneur spirit, their leadership spirit; but furthermore, they believe in what they do, they are passionate dreamers. It doesn't always look like that, it's clear, but I think the right question for you would be: Do you believe in what you do? Are you passionate in your work? Just questions to reflect.
As a leader in your area, it is normal for you to start accumulating followers, as a true rockstar. It is there where the questions turn out to be valuable, because your followers will ask themselves what do you believe in and what are your passions. If your foundation is what you were taught in school or what brands or TV taught you, then you have to step back a bit and start rethinking your strategy. Steve Jobs is a perfect example of innovation rockstar. His followers were always alert of what he said or did. But the true connection or the core of it was that they saw and felt a true passion in what Jobs was doing.
The most direct answer would be: because you have a unique story to tell and it is worth to be shared. As a designer, you are important and you must know who you are, what moves you, and to be a leader who is always growing. People permanently look for information, they look for the way of making things in a better way and each one of us has that power of putting up our efforts.
That feeling that lays in your chest, when your eyes shine and your brain starts visualizing a bunch of strategies when you look at your first billboard on the road, your first full-page ad in a magazine or your logotype in a tangible way, that feeling of success when you say “I made this.” It started in your mind and ended up moving more than 5,000 people. The client congratulated you, as well as your colleagues, your couple supported you. You know you're doing things right.
Why a rockstar designer? Because you deserve it, because you owe it to yourself, because you must give yourself the chance to trust in your talent, of sharing with others your achievements and to boicot your triumph. But for that, yo should allow yourself to make mistakes and to learn from them, to get out of the comfort zone, to experiment and enjoy the highs and lows of life.
When you start to practice all your daily routines and your way of working with this attitude, I can assure you that your career will take you far beyond that you can imagine, because only through this way, you will be able to tell the workd who you are and why are you worthy. I know this can be already known and experienced by some, but we are creative leaders, creative change agents. We are those who design the future in which we will live, we all have that power and it will be difficult in the beginning, but the fruits of our effort are priceless.
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Wow! It was awesome, I believe in what I do, and I really want to be a creative change agent, thank you very much :)
Crear y emprender se acercan en significado, ¿por qué no acercar ambos conceptos? Presento un libro gratuito que invita a la reflexión y a la revolución.
Lo que yo pienso del Design Thinking.