Mediocrity Reimagined

January 10, 2019

I'll be the first to say that much of the work I've produced hasn't been the best. There are many paragraphs I'd cut completely, plenty of page layouts I'd redesign, and plenty of details I didn't have the eye to notice before I sent them off to the printer.

But I know that. And every day, I learn to a greater extent how much I have to learn.

My philosophy on getting better is this: I can't chase true perfection, because otherwise I would never finish a project. I also can't dwell on failure, because otherwise I would never start new projects. So, I've put my bets on producing lots of work and keeping myself busy on lots of small projects, as evidenced by my work in the last quarter of 2018. My hypothesis is that each project will teach me something new that I can use for the next project.

That's working well for me.

But something I have to remind myself of is this:

If I fall into a rhythm of doing the same projects over and over, I will become mediocre. For example, I worked with a subpar web designer-turned-marketing executive who used to manage the website of a company I worked at. This person was ambitious, but not focused on excellence and new learning. It became clear to me, after learning more about their work history, that they had been doing much of the same as far as design goes for a long time, so it wasn't surprising that their design sense was, for lack of a better term, mediocre.

That's not their fault. Like I mentioned, they were focused on climbing the corporate ladder, so design skills fell by the wayside, much like my goal to learn German has taken a backseat in the last couple months. There's nothing wrong with focusing on something else.

But my goal is to become a great designer and thinker. Not only that, an exceptional one. I can't do a bunch of Wordpress websites over and over and expect to improve. Long story short, I won't.

In the next few months, I want to do some different print design projects, primarily:
  • a monograph of someone or something
  • a collection of photography, either my own or someone whose work is excellent
  • multiple issues of a magazine
  • posters; since I didn’t go to design school, I haven’t done a myriad of poster projects, so I’d like to do a poster series or two and get them printed.

Here’s to great learning in 2019.