We all love being good at what we do don’t we? It’s nice to take pride in your work and in the level of quality that you produce. I love being good at what I do, and I want to get better, but let me tell you something that may shock you; there is no way I’d ever want to be the best. I love striving for that next stage, that moment when you’re able to do something that last year you thought you could never achieve. I love being inspired by other people’s work, seeing what’s possible and scratching my head as I try desperately to figure out some morsel of their process. I love the fact that I will never be good enough to stop learning.
— The Design Range (@TheDesignRange) July 7, 2015
The drive to keep improving is one of the things that I love about being a creative freelancer. It’s the reason that once I’ve finished a client’s work for the day, I then start on one of my own illustrations even when my hand is cramping up. It’s the reason I own around 15 domain names for cool websites that I’m in the process of building. It’s the reason I’m writing this very article right now. I love that I’m good, but I want to get better.
Have you ever stopped and just appreciated all the talent that surrounds us on a daily basis? Hopefully you have a twitter feed filled with talented artists, and are involved in communities on Dribbble, Behance or DeviantArt. It’s stunning to see the work being produced on a daily basis and to know that you are amongst all of that, in the thick of it.
Maybe you’re happy too, but I’m willing to bet that you’re not.
I imagine it’s no doubt quite easy to get complacent in your skills when clients are constantly happy with your work, and maybe you’re happy too, but I’m willing to bet that you’re not. The creative industry doesn’t attract money hungry go getters, eager to game a way to earn the largest wage whilst doing the least work. We want to do what we love, and we want to be the best we can be. If you’re anything like me, the fact you get paid is just a bonus.
Think about Sherlock Holmes for a moment. I love the character of Sherlock, I love the fact that he has no equal in terms of his intellect. He is the best, and he is the best by quite some way, and that’s impressive. I sit in awe, as though his mental acrobatics were a super power akin to flight. But at the same time I’m filed with a melancholy, in a way I find it quite sad.
He has no equal.
The thing that makes Sherlock the best is also what isolates him. Sherlock has a brilliant mind, but what use is that if it’s never truly challenged?
In any case, design is subjective – there cannot be a ‘best’. It’s just like being a chef – you can master the most advanced culinary skills, and source the finest organic ingredients from the far corners of the earth, but if the person you’re cooking for doesn’t like eggs, then they’re going to think your omelette sucks. Your style cannot appeal to everyone – in fact, if that’s what you’re aiming for, then you’re heading in the wrong direction entirely.
Monotony is dull – and thankfully the creative industry offers none of it.
Even if you became the best (if such a thing is even possible), we work in an industry that has no walls or boundaries or rules. That is the nature of the creative industry. For every person there is that manages to perfect their craft, there will be someone who approaches it in a way that’s entirely new. They’ll attack it from the side, and out of nowhere the whole game will change and the process will start over. Web design is a solid example of this, just as you think you know everything some new bit of technology rears its head and suddenly your life’s work is antiquated in an instant – and that is just so much fun. Gamers are constantly pining for new expansion packs and sequels because they love change, but moreover they love the challenge that comes with it. Monotony is dull – and thankfully the creative industry offers none of it.
I suppose that’s what it all boils down to; the fact that whilst all of us strive to be the best, the joy of it isn’t in achieving that goal, it’s about everything in between. It’s not about winning the race – it’s about loving the run.
Next Tuesday I’ll be publishing an article on how to level up your creative skills. It’ll be a guide for those wishing to make a genuine a definable step forward in their skill set, a way to look back and see a difference in ability between then and now. If that sounds like something you could use (and remember, you will never be good enough to stop learning) then make sure you sign up to the Design Range newsletter below, and I’ll send you over an email once it goes live.