Creating Design Opportunities: Your Choice & Attitude

Elise Bowen

December 12, 2013

I used to be a whiner–a really good whiner. Lessons, choirs, school dances, pretty much anything that didn’t include cartoon network or video games was thoroughly protested. I would whine in hopes that my mom would let me off the hook. Without fail, she would explain that I should take advantage of these opportunities, have a good attitude, that they build character, blah blah blah. Looking back on those situations I am grateful (please don’t tell my mom) for that advice. Attitude truly does make a significant difference in getting the most out of every opportunity.

Mothering lectures aside this advice can be applied to all aspects of life—even design. Not every project coming down the line is a fun action-packed game of Turtles In Time. Occasionally, some projects may seem more like clarinet lessons.

Dora Drimalas, co-founder of Hybrid Design, has said, “Many of the projects that have given me the most joy–and have remained untainted in my eyes–have been the least obvious, most unexpected, and in many cases, the simplest.”

Putting extra effort—even if it’s just a little—into a simple or less appealing project may result in surprising and happy results. Instead of focusing on the perceived staleness of the color, logo, type choice, footage, photography, concept, location, or other, focus on the opportunity these may present. In his book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, Ed Sullivan quotes Jason Elm who tells us to “embrace the suck.” Instead of burying the crummy “must-haves” of the project, “tackle it directly.” By doing this, you may come to a new—possibly better—solution for your client.

So get out there and make the best of your situations. Change your attitude to make a difference. In many cases, a good attitude will not only benefit our clients, it may also benefit us. Dora Drimales said it best, “The work we are most remembered for is almost always the work we did for the most obvious client of all—ourselves.”