A Designers New Year’s Resolution

As we slide into a new decade what better time is there to take stock of your career and set some goals for the coming year? Here’s a few of my New Year’s Resolutions. I feel they might be quite universal for many graphic designers out there.

A Graphic Designers New Year's Resolution

Less freelance, more personal projects

Don’t get me wrong, freelance work is an important aspect of any designers career. Other than putting food on the table it provides you with a slew of fresh challenges and a healthy alertness to the industry. It will help you polish your creative skills as you lunge into new projects that you wouldn’t have thought up yourself.

That being said, there comes a point where you need to start setting personal goals and pursue some of your own creative projects. Some designers will go their entire career working for other people and get a kick out of that. I’m not that guy. In the new year i urge anyone with entrepreneurship in them (which is very abundant in this industry) to cut down on the freelancing and focus a percentage of your time on your own projects, your own product.

Remember to work on your own stuff

While this may mean a temporary setback in income, it will go a long way for your career, your sense of self and ultimately the path your career takes in the future.

I’m generally advocating you guys to work less for ‘da man’ and more for yourself. I know a lot of you have aspirations other than pleasing the next client that comes barging into your inbox. Some of you dream of opening a T-shirt store, some of you want to sell stock icons and quite a lot of you want to make iPhone apps. Whatever it is, seek it out more ferociously than you have ever done!

Work for yourself!

Working on your own project is not only a possible way to secure future stable income, it’s also a way to spark your passion – what fueled you to go into this industry in the first place? Slamming the launch button at 5′o’clock in the morning on your 11th cup of espresso feels great! The exhilaration comes from knowing that you just put something into this world that is solely your own idea and execution.

Your own project radiating awesomeness
Your own project radiating awesomeness. Might even impress your mother.

Your own project is an excellent showcase of your talent and dedication, it will easily work as an ‘ambassador’ for your skills and might woo future clients or collaborating peers.

People have different ambitions, and while you may not be able to completely throw away your day job, find the hours to work on your own projects however small or big they may be. It will repay itself tenfold.

Blog and Share more

Never has it been more easy to share your world with people. As a design community we have become closer and more aware of eachother through twitter and the expanding blogosphere. Take your time out to share some of your work, share your process or share some knowledge. From maintaining an informative twitter stream to authoring blog posts, make an effort to give more – it will benefit us all and it will grow your own network.

Interact more

Twitter and your blog is not only a one-way communication channel. Make efforts to spark conversations and reply to people. Crowd source as much as you can, it’s never been easier to seek out your peer’s opinions.

Interact with the community
You have a network, use it…

Get out more

If you’re an independent designer like me, try and get out more. Shake off the morning robe and meet people out in the wild. Go to one of those trendy coffee shops or cafés – bring your macbook and take a day working from another perspective. Sometimes a new environment will spark new ideas.

Fancy coffeeshop
Get out of the house, see other people, drink expensive coffee.

Structure your resources

If you’re anything like me you collect everything that sparks interest: Design inspiration, a great font, an odd colorscheme or just a composition that moved you. These libraries of resources and inspiration have a tendency to get cluttered eventually rendering them quite useless. Do some spring cleaning and see if you can structure your resources so that they will actually work for you in 2010. There’s a lot of good programs out there but a good old folder structure might work just as well.

structure those folders
I like the good ol’ folder setup

Do more Collaborative work

It’s 2010 and it’s never been easier to find talented people around you. Reach out and create partnerships. Find someone who’s good at all the things you’re not and bring something new and exciting into the world.

I think we could all get better at some of these things, including myself.