How To: BE A HAPPIER, BETTER DESIGNER

How To: BE A HAPPIER, BETTER DESIGNER


hey everybody it’s Chris here for an episode of AMA and today we have two guests in the studio with us we have two arts center graduates you guys just graduated with Michelle Phan that’s it all right Michelle Phan and Emily Shane and we shake welcome to the show you guys have little questions so there you guys go let me try this again I want you guys to listen to me yeah I designed sandwiches my name is Jose Kyle yet and I talked about the design of business it is I talk about a lot of stuff my name is Chris doe and I talk about the business of design at the center of this operating systems about understood was it could we just tell them what the show title is I hate you dude you are watching the process so my first question was um as a designer we’re making a lot of work and sometimes we’re not too happy with the type of work that we end up with what would you what’s your advice on life feeling better about I guess the end result every time do you often find that you’re disappointed in the results is that what you’re saying how do you prevent from being disappointed in the end results yeah yeah like you kind of put so much effort and you have just like dream board of like inspiration or design you’re like oh I have it’s going to be so amazing and whether it’s like time constraint or something else you kind of feel like oh I wish I’ve done better or at least I find that I always think that okay I think that’s a great question so for me there’s a couple things I have to think about here one is design and what we do is when we make stuff we we turn abstract ideas into tangible things things that other people can look at and things that we can critique as you all know when we have an idea in our head whether it’s about an exercise program you want to join a physical thing or like a physical thing like is a book it’s always better in your head so its inherent within the process of translating this kind of amorphous thing that’s in your mind into something tangible that becomes a thing where you can get disappointed the results so my suggestion is instead of defining the results as how closely the end result matches your vision in your head because it’ll never live up to it nothing is ever as good as you imagined it right like you wake up in the middle of night and you have an idea for a logo and then you go to make it it never measures up because it’s not concrete it changes in your mind so it’s going to always match up what you think so my thing is instead of measuring whether or not the printing the bindery the fonts all those kinds of things live up to your expectations maybe we can define the end results as something a little bit different maybe the end result should be about how much you’ve grown and maybe if you define it in terms of your own growth then you won’t be disappointed so unless you don’t really challenge yourself and one of the things I think as designers and creative types we have a fear that the work won’t measure up and live up to what it is that we want to create so then we stay within our comfort zone we make things that don’t really challenge us because we know we cannot fail there but to me then I would be disappointed in the results so I think it will be better for your own growth but your own development and who you are as a designer and developing your own voice if you tried to push yourself if you accepted that instead of measuring the success and failure project on the end result measure on the success and failure of how much you’ve grown how much risk did you take how far did you stretch an idea how far did you push yourself does that help you yeah I think something that helps a lot when we talked at my grad show was also to count what things went right as opposed to just the things that went wrong yeah yeah because it’s like in critique we’re very used to taking in like what went wrong what could have been better but it’s also important to remember to count what went right like what did I do what new skills that I learned and being really like happy with that and celebrating that – I love it so there’s a balance in a critique based structure where if you’re in school it’s it’s seemingly like our duty as peers or faculty in my case to point out the things that could be better and those things can help you and then sometimes we forget to remember that Dec has it takes a toll on the person because it’s always chipping you down and you’re totally right I’m really glad you said that Michelle is for you to take credit and a of what you did right how much you’ve grown you’ve learned a new tool you did something you’ve never done before you learned a different style you expose yourself to a new technique or perhaps through your research you figured out a new tool and your shortcut all those things so for me personally like I’ve been doing this for so long 20 plus years going on strong right now and I’m as motivated and as driven as I ever been because I do take account for all those little things that I do right and that gives me fuel to keep pushing forward often times Emily will know this is I’ll roll my eyes at her and say Emily why don’t you know the shortcut you just graduated you’ve had instructors you’re doing this day in and day out why isn’t it that you know how to do this and why is it an old man like me can come in to say to you here’s 14 shortcuts on how to do this much more efficiently that’s because I mess in a lot of time and I take note of how I can speed up my process and then I give myself credit for learning those new things and those things really excite me Emily you have a response to that I do I mean follow with us not pointing to follow-up to that question is all of that what you do does that lower the expectation but does that impress the client well how will they how would you want to not disappoint the client how to impress them oh you want to impress the client right I mean we all want to impress the clients right or it’s like we impress ourselves or we become disappointed in ourselves and then how would it be on the flip side okay just a paraphrase what you’re saying I may not be capturing the sentiment of your question but how do you meet or exceed your clients expectations so that they don’t become disappointed I don’t like to use the word impress because it implies I’m trying to validate what I do through them I know that the work is good I know it’s not good I don’t need them to tell me that okay I do know if it’s working or not working so how do you not disappoint the client one one thing that you can do and you got to be careful about this is never over promise my motto is under-promise over-deliver don’t tell them you do 14 version because that’s what you did last time tell them they’re going to show them to aversions and then when you come in for you’ve doubled their expectations but imagine if you promise eight then you’ve met half the expectation and they’re going to say well Emily we’re really underwhelmed with the work that you did and you’ve set yourself up for failure in that case and you don’t want to do that okay another thing about this is as designers if you worked on your crap if you understand aesthetics and you have good taste generally speaking you have better taste than your clients so it’s not going to be a matter of you having bad taste doing something that’s cheesy or trendy or any kinds of things generally speaking that’s the case so the other way I like to think about this is how not to disappoint your clients is to not have a goal that is arbitrary that’s vague that’s objective because then you get into that’s the wrong shade of red that’s the wrong shade of persimmon whatever color that is then it becomes holy just opinion opinion based another way to do this is say what kind of marketing goals what kind of messaging goals what are we trying to do with this initiative how will we know if we succeeded or not that’s a much harder question to have answer than a much harder thing to deliver on but if we start to elevate the conversation move away from purely aesthetics I think we’re going to create more value for ourselves and avoid the danger of getting to the space where the clients and us do battle over whether or not it’s good enough okay that’s a great follow-up question but I think you have another question right do I um just what are some mistakes or advice that you would like to give recent graduates or not mistakes but what kind of a mistake have you seen people make and what kind of advice you like to give us okay to young designers and recent graduates okay so what kind of advice do I have for recent graduates and things to avoid pitfalls I want to caution all you guys this because I see it happen too often usually if I like somebody’s work I asking what’s your rate and they don’t know what their rate is and what do they wind up saying let me get back to you so they call up other friends they do research and everybody starts inflate numbers while I heard Johnny does this but what it doesn’t take into consideration are two really important things one what is your skill level what is it that you create relative to everybody else to how big is this company how deep are their pockets what are they asking you to do is it a dangerous job is it a safe job is it a great culture a great work environment and those are the two things you really need to kind of sort out this has happened and I’ve spoken about this before the most dangerous thing that you can do for yourself is over price your skill level because you’re going to create friction where none existed it’s like you coming in saying I would do eight times the work of everybody else here and only doing two times there two times would be a home run so that’s the danger be careful how you price yourself because it’s relative to what you can do with the company can afford a different way of phrasing that is perhaps to ask them a question back so instead of saying this is my pricing I would really like to work here I have a couple other offers but my preference would be to work here what makes sense to you based on what it is that I do because I trust you now when you say those kinds of words unless the person is a total maniac they’re going to be a lot more careful instead of just negotiating you down they’re going to think we’ll have a responsibility here Emily really wants to come and work with us what price should it okay I think based on what the interns are doing and what these guys are she’s somewhere in here and then I’m going to give you the offer and then my advice is unless it feels like they’re totally taking advantage of you take the offer put a time period on it say that sounds reasonable to me let’s try this out for three weeks two months one month whatever it is that you want to do it for and then review at the end say have I met those expectations and you should know well in advance if you have or not there’s room to grow up and it’s easy to raise your rates it’s really hard to come in totally blow up on a job and your reputation is all you have and so then it leaves a bad taste in the person’s mouth saying emily is overpriced I overpaid for what I got and don’t want that anymore so what they’re gonna do is they’re going to start shopping for somebody else like Michelle okay Michelle what are you doing right that’s what’s going to happen so be careful about that kind of stuff I think it’s important to get feedback from who you’re working for or reporting to but think about it in terms of goals things that you know you can achieve within that time period to see if you’re meeting those things and also be looking for other things to do so if you’re scheduled for a eight hour day and four hours into it you already finish work don’t sit there and pretend like there’s nothing else to do there is go ask be of service to the company and you endear yourself to them and they’re going to say wow Emily’s a real go-getter she’s going to go out and help us grow as a company the old adages like in large corporations is you don’t want to get noticed if you get noticed if you’re the nail that sticks out you get smashed there’s a noisy person that person does this they’re just a troublemaker they’re creating all problems but I think in 21st century businesses it’s dangerous not to be noticed you want to be noticed you want to be seen as a person who’s moving the ball forward who is helping the company to grow helping others to grow and that’s what you want so if you’re flying under the radar you’re gonna fly yourself straight out of a job okay and the other thing too is this when you’re applying for a job when the company says yes you have the job don’t talk yourself out of the job when Sammy says yes this is what you need to do that’s it you know people will say here’s my work that’s a great I’ve seen enough to couple pieces in because I’ve seen enough work in my lifetime I know what good work looks like I only need to see three to five pieces of consistent work don’t need to see more you just want to need to see more it’s because I’m unsure of your work okay so when I say that’s enough Yoriko don’t you want to see the portfolio piece seven eight nine and ten what’s it going to do what if I see something in 8 9 and 10 that I don’t want so stop trying to show me work after you got the yes it’s called going passive sale and you don’t want to go past the sale does that make sense to you guys all right you want a voice for jobs question for him I’m have to disappoint your teammate isn’t yeah I’m pretty sure it was related to like my question which was first like how do you not disappoint yourself and then I think you turned it around into like how do you not disappoint the client or the team or the team like how do you maintain relations even who did that good work but there’s a lot of like to and fro with come on why doing I work how do you maintain a good relationship with with who with the client or with like ah should I answer a question already if you did a good work yeah you didn’t we find we night a lot of the awkward sure yeah huge nice because it’s not very efficient yes so at the end of it how do you get media to make sure that you know after you’ve ever wondered what it was perfect rishabh ask this question about how can you maintain a relationship so what started out really strong doesn’t devolve into something horrible and it can break at any given moment in time it really can so we talked about this a lot of the company little mistakes taking the client for granted those things will kill the job every single time and usually also one or one other thing poor communication when you have your clients calling you and asking you what’s up with this project that’s bad client management that’s poor communication if you’re behind on a project shoot them an email call them up let them know and build a structure so there’s visibility and transparency into the things that you’re doing how do I know where we’re at you know maybe you are doing frequent check-ins or little status updates those things that not knowing those things bug clients they bug me so for example Emily I give you a job to do if I don’t hear or see from you in a while I start to wonder is Emily on her Facebook page on Facebook live broadcasting or issue working on my project and the truth is you’re probably grinding away at the project day and night all night worrying about the project but you don’t tell me and so then so here’s the thing that I’ve learned to from business is that absent a narrative people invent one without telling me the story of what’s going on we use our imagination we make up a story and usually the story’s not very flattering I give you an example Aaron every time I come into office like where is hair why is he at his desk and I start to think god this guy never comes in on time what is going on or I look for Andrew Mike Andrew where the heck are you where is my edit I don’t see anybody anywhere so you see what the problem is that’s the problem so great communication making sure they have visibility into what you’re doing and being very transparent about your process you’ll get into more trouble covering up stuff than just telling people the truth this took me longer than I thought I underestimated this I’m still trying to find the perfect image and I can’t find it yet I’m sorry I’m a little bit behind I think I can resolve this by tomorrow and then give yourself a little cushion if you think it takes three hours give yourself six hours or 12 hours give yourself more time so when it appears in their inbox ahead of time they’re delighted versus past deadlines they’re angry now usually also where things devolve is the friction points that you’re talking about rishabh is where you start to take the client for granted oh we’ve done great work they should appreciate us no you need to understand you exist you have rent you have food because somebody agreed to give you money for the things that you do they support your livelihood okay don’t act like they’re you’re doing them a favor by gifting them your creative genius there are a lot of choices in the world more so every single day because we live in this global design community now if you don’t service them well you’re not you’re not going to keep them for very long so my business coach here he talks about this all the time he says no matter what kind of company you are whether you manufacture widgets make tacos or do graphic design all companies are essentially the same all companies do marketing and all companies or customer service companies period it doesn’t matter if you sell shoes purses or your hairstylist if you don’t give great customer service and you don’t learn how to market yourself you’re going to be out of business it’s about the customer service and that’s what makes it different okay I think you guys have any other questions to be a philosophic dallisa yeah if you can say like why do people not be transparent like how you said they just don’t communicate with our clients right I mean it’s just tell the truth right why don’t people do that I mean it’s why don’t you think people do that why don’t people aren’t afraid to tell the truth why do you know no I’m asking you why no I feel like they like blow it up in their heads like they think on it and then it gets scarier yeah maybe and then they don’t say yeah great philosophical question from Emily Shay why are we opaque versus transparent and it’s one of confidence really and it’s about an imagined battle that happens in your head and I think what happens is you’re judging yourself so critically every time you do something that it becomes this amplification within the echo chamber of your brain so when you think I can’t tell the clients I couldn’t find the right image they’re going to think I’m a moron that I’m habitually late on projects or I think too highly of myself whatever it is whereas the truth will set your frame and here’s the thing one really one tip that you can apply right now if you mess up on a job the first thing you do is defuse the clients anger and the frustration just come in hands up I’m so sorry I screwed up this is my fault I’m gonna make this right I apologize for doing this it’s not professional notice how you gave no excuses and then make it right this is what happened and it’s my fault that’s it and people usually looking for a fight once you say that they don’t look for fights anymore and even if they do you know what you deserved it let them lay into you for a little bit and it will diminish the last thing you want to do is sit there and like but this happened then you did that at the end of the day you might win the battle but you’ll lose the war because they’re gonna walk away thinking you know what I don’t ever want to work with Emily again or I don’t want to work with Michelle they’re just a pain in the butt and they don’t tell me the truth people like the truth so it takes some confidence to be able to speak about things in a transparent manner this is what happened this is why this is the case and that’s it and the rest of it is just kind of the sphere that’s happening in your head alright guys thanks for tuning on Facebook live hope you got some value out of this Katie says I’m scary dang ok I’m at I’m at like scary and I say the comments yeah you can see the comments but here hey you guys want to read them Oh scary when I grow up I want to be Christa that’s my son yeah I don’t know I’m kidding guys that’s another episode of AMA I hope you got value out of this we’re talking about some topics that we’ve talked about before but I really appreciate both Michelle and Emily for being here thanks guys see you guys around


62 thoughts on “How To: BE A HAPPIER, BETTER DESIGNER

  1. Imagination as an artist can be deceptive in the way it tends to conquer reality, but it can also be a killer gateway to making some badass art!

  2. Chris. The Skool is great especially all the advice you guys give to recent graduates and young designers. I graduated from design school three weeks ago and all of the videos on the Skool Network have been very helpful and insightful. Keep up the great work!!! Thanks.

  3. This is amazing. So much questions that have had come up in my mind are answered in this episode. Peace Chris

  4. Tottaly diggin the new intro sequence. I really enjoyed the perspective on pricing; great points and insight!

  5. Awesome advice, especially for a design student such as myself. Loving the new intro and set as well. Looking forward to more videos! Thank you

  6. I think this can definitely be an issue when your client's creativity and open-mindedness is lacking compared to yours, and your end result is your client's vision, rather than your own.

  7. Great advice! I wish I would have been able to study under people like you guys. I didn't really get anything out of my design schooling (like 8 years ago.. eek) and I think everything I learned was self-taught. I would have loved to have some mentors like you guys. So glad I found your channel.

  8. Hi, pls, more epiodes on how to develop great relationships with clients… nice episode. thanks for sharing

  9. I've always LOVED the audio (words) for the intro and really like the new look.
    Thanks for such sound pricing and customer service advice. It's always a great reminder to treat clients right. 🙂

  10. I liked the advice Chris gave about how to deal with the reality of your final design vs. what you originally pictured in your mind.
    I was just dealing with this this past week when I submitted a final logo design to a client, they loved it (and that was amazing), but in the back of my mind I was comparing it to what I thought it would be. So taking Chris' advice in, it really changed my perspective because I did grow and discovered new techniques along the way.
    I'm learning so much from these Skool Network videos, I've been watching them all week.
    They are definitely bridging the gap between my school education and the reality of freelancing and putting myself out there.

  11. Definitely appreciate the AMAs. I find a lot of what you say applies to general business and not just the business of design. I'm not in the design business at all but I've learned a lot from you. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

  12. I'm not designer but I find your advice very useful and can relate a lot.
    Thanks Chris you have good insight.

  13. Soo incredible helpful! You guys are faithful to the craft, and provide realistic, down to earth, advice, which is beneficial to designers on all levels. In short – thank you.

  14. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work … It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions … It’s gonna take awhile … You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

  15. Hey i have i question. How do you ask a client for the balance on an overdue project? e.g. I did a design for a company about a month ago, they paid about 60% of it and told me that they'll be sending it to the head of the company for approval then i'll get the balance when it's approved. so i would LOVE to know how on earth can i get this client to pay without seeming too desperate or needy? Love your video by the way awesome advice as usual!

  16. Question? how do you turn a client down? i would love to see a video about rejecting work vs finding it.

  17. I have problem I'm always late I can't keep the deadline it's seems hard to me so that why my client never back to me agin

  18. Y'gotta factor in your marketing person as generally that's where many issues occur between design and client (in advertising) as they have the tendency to do the over-promising, etc. Always the middle-man. On the flip side though, that's when you know if you got competent marketers on your team or not.

  19. Great video again Chris! These lectures helped me gain PERSPECTIVE in the field. Not something that is talked about enough.

  20. dude i just found this channel and its like "hey, I'm home". super excited to binge watch your stuff especially the uiux stuff that just came out. you seem like a really good teacher – you teach at the art center (from what i can infer from browsing around your videos?)The only reason i know that school is I live in pasadena

  21. One thing that has made me a happier designer lately was reading the book The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero. He asks us to explore not only our craft (or how) but also 'the Why' behind our work. Chris, have you read it?

  22. Thank you so much 🙂 when i design i feel disappointed all the time and i haven't felt good about it until i heard what you said 🙂

  23. Awesome video, as always 😀 I notice you always seem wo work with fine arts people (kind of "pure" designers). I would really like to know what you think about "hybrid" degrees, like in multimedia-programmes, where you learn graphic design but you also learn some front-end development.
    This definitely increases your job chances in the short term, but do you think that this leads to people stretching themselves to thin, or does the perspective of the developer make you a better webdesigner?

  24. This video has given me the confidence to have an awkward conversation, and a realization that it needs to happen in order to keep a door open and to prevent a business relationship from ending. Thank you for being so clear and honest.

  25. Wonderful advice! I think I just broke down my creative block watching this. Take my designs way to serious. 🙌🏾🙏🏾👊🏾👏🏾 thanks!!!!

  26. Chris, you're so cool!
    I'm glued to your channel for 3 days now, .I've learned SO MUCH!
    Thank you thank you thank you! <3

  27. Priceless with regard to the business of design! Extremely insightful. Thanks so much for such solid and relevant content.

  28. "how far did you stretch an idea."in short you threw everything at the concept to the point of exhaustion.

  29. i appreciate your channel so much! probably never was as happy to find a channel as i was with yours. I'm 19 years old and starting to design (i prefer billboards), some day you will hear from me! and THEN we'll work together because you helped me SO much!

  30. Great point about not inflating the price. Being reasonable (based on skill level, expertise, client budget, etc) is good for not only the designer but the industry as a whole. If the client walks away feeling cheated or that they overpaid, they will search for cheaper work in the future and may even have a lower value of design services in general. As seen with crowdsourced work and "lowest price wins" type of work, it's detrimental to the industry financially and the reputation.

  31. 3:00 i dunno man… I've learned a bunch and probably could make a living off 3-5 professions… I always wanted to share my story and show the ppl who had the same childhood – you can make it even tho all the odds were against you. but i could never focus on one job / profession and make it the very best… i learn, i get really good and move on. for some reason you just make me thinking… maybe it's time to focus.

  32. Takeaways:
    1:33 Measuring the success of a project according to how much the end result matches the result in your head is a recipe for disaster and stagnation. Instead, measure it by how much you've grown from the process.
    3:30 Count what went right and what you learned during a critique, not just what went wrong. It will give fuel to your motivation.
    6:30 Avoid dissapointing clients: under-promise, over-deliver. Have objective, concrete goals (marketing, metrics, etc) instead of subjective, vague ones (aesthetics).
    8:50 Know your rate BEFORE you go into the meeting. What's your skill level relative to everyone else? How much $$ is this biz making?
    The most dangerous thing you can do you is overprice your skillset. It creates friction where there is none.
    Meet them in the middle with a question back: I'd really like to work here. I have other offers but my preference is to work here. What makes sense to you based on what I do? Because I trust you.
    If it's a good offer, but a time contingency on it to review: That sounds reasonable to me, lets try this for the next 3 weeks and review at the end.
    It's easier to raise your rate than to blow up a job. Your reputation is all you have.
    11:15 Seek feedback from the person you report to. Set goals within time period to benchmark yourself. When you complete all your tasks, go ask for other ways you can be of help to the company.
    12:19 Don't go past the sale: When you're hired, stop trying to sell yourself.
    14:01 Maintaining client relationships: Don't take the client for granted. You have a livelihood because they're paying you to service them. All companies are marketing and customer service companies. Period.
    Absent a narrative, people invent one: Create a structure to maintain consistent, transparent communication of where you are in your process. If they don't know what you're doing, they'll assume the worst.
    Give yourself a deadline cushion, always better for the client to perceive that you're delivering before the due date.
    18:40 The truth will set you free. This takes confidence. If you mess up on a job, diffuse the client's anger: I'm sorry, I screwed up. I'll fix it. No excuses.

    Thank you Chris.

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