As I look back on some of the shitty writing and design work I’ve done in the past year, one word comes to mind: uninspired. The first versions of my magazine—which I no longer show on my website—were amateurish and flat. Still, I struggle to bring a design to life. Sometimes I wonder, what the hell does it even mean to design something inspired and beautiful?
I know what it looks like when I see it. It looks like all of the beautiful design portfolios I see from designers at top agencies. It looks like #thedesignblacklist on Instagram, and it looks like the beautiful publications Stack Magazines sends out every month.
I look at all this beautiful work and then immediately jump into my own work to try and equal it.
Here’s the problem: I don’t spend enough time looking at shitty work.
When you look at beautiful things, you appreciate them, even though you might not know why. Every beautiful idea had to avoid countless mistakes to turn into a beautiful object by the end. Looking at beautiful things doesn’t help you avoid those mistakes.
When you look at shitty things, those mistakes become clear; and easier to avoid in your own work. Learn from what’s shitty.