Last Updated on April 8, 2016
A designer’s life is a tough one. Aside from being in constant pursuit of personal satisfaction with their work, they also have to gain the approval of their clients. These two all in all makes the job incredibly stressful.
Not all designers are able to live up to the expectations of others and themselves. While this isn’t always a comment on their skill, some of them fail to see is that the job isn’t just about being great at what they do—half the time, it’s about keeping the right attitude while working. Here are seven core characteristics you should foster to become the successful artist you’ve been meaning to.
1. Get organized.
Thanks to historically-accurate documentaries and possibly overstated portrayals in the media, the predominant belief about artists is that they are, to put it bluntly, messy. Pencils and sketchbooks in every corner, unwashed cups of coffee on the desk, and countless cigarette butts extinguished against the ashtray—all of these, give or take a few, you can find in the working area of many artists who consider themselves legit.
While being organizationally-challenged is not a crime, you have to develop a concrete sense of orderliness. If you’re the kind of designer who works mostly with a computer, it would help if you categorize your projects and create your personal filing nomenclature. On the other hand, if you prefer to work with tangible materials, get yourself efficient filing paraphernalia. You can also make use of a day-planner, digital or otherwise, to make sure that you won’t miss any deadlines and show up on meetings on time and prepared.
2. Take note of (almost) everything.
One thing about taking down notes many artists would agree on is that when a crucially important idea jaywalks in your process, you have to write it down as soon as you can or it is lost to you forever. Not even pulverizing a wall by smashing your head against it will bring that idea back.
The point is designers are exposed to a lot of great ideas that can jumpstart other brilliant projects. However, not all designers have the habit of jotting it down. Instead of leaving the job all to your memory, always keep a notebook and a pen with you for instances when inspiration strikes. Also, make it routine to visit places where you can easily find motivation such as art galleries, libraries, and events related to your specialty.
3. Learn to be versatile.
Sometimes, designers tend to be a little too attached to their work that when clients request changes for the nth time, they start to question their talent, their clients’ sanity, or both. To be fair with them, it can be quite frustrating to have to redesign over and over again.
So before you put yourself at the risk of unemployment and a bad rep, develop within you the skill of versatility. Be sure that you bring a lot of fantastic ideas to the table during brainstorming sessions and keep an open mind for your clients’ demands. Being versatile is also a game of patience so you have to keep your tolerance level in check.
4. Keep things professional.
It takes a true artist to appreciate beauty in things and in the works of others but it takes a disciplined one to be able to monetize this talent. There’s no point in beating around the bush—if you’re the kind of designer who wishes to earn a decent living and make your passion a career, professionalism is indeed an imperative characteristic to develop.
But what does it mean to be professional? For starters, you have to be quite knowledgeable about your field and about your clients as well. It’s also customary to present them not just your portfolio but also ideas that might appeal to them. In addition, always be punctual. Whether it’s a deadline you’re meeting or it’s the clients themselves, make it a point not to be delayed. If you foster professionalism, you can count on satisfied clients to recommend you to their colleagues.
5. Foster your creativity.
You wouldn’t even be remotely close to being a designer if you don’t have an inkling about making art. It’s safe to assume by now that you’re blessed with creativity in hopefully more ways than one. Now, creativity is not something you actually order an artist to develop since they are usually born with it. However, this doesn’t mean you should stop there.
As an artist, it is your duty to yourself to develop your skill. As such, you have to find ways to hone your talent and imagination, like designing your own store. Whatever it is that you specialize at, make it a point to practice every day. You can also attend workshops and view galleries to refill your bank of ideas.
6. Sharpen your problem-solving skills.
Designers spend a lot of time working on their art but this doesn’t make them immune to setbacks every now and then. This is one reason why there are a lot of artists who prefer to work alone since it spares them from having to deal with so many people but in cases where you have to work with a team, basic problem-solving skills can be handy.
It would be useful if you learn what kind of intervention fits for the kind of situations you might have while working. Take it upon yourself to learn the basics of management in order for you to know how to deal with other people. This is a particular set of skills that you can use all the time so it’s actually worth the training.
7. Thirst for learning.
What makes great artists better than others is their insatiable hunger to learn something new. They can’t seem to be satisfied with what they already know so they embark on intellectual and artistic journeys to perfect their craft.
Being a master at everything may be an impossible task but this doesn’t mean you can’t be an expert at what you do. Always look for ways to develop your skills and work on it to precision. If you think you’ve already learned everything you have to, you can also take up on another skill. Whether it’s related to what you’re currently doing wouldn’t matter as long as you exercise your creativity and talent.
So if you’re looking forward to a thriving artist career as you pursue business, develop these seven essential characteristics and let being an exceptional and dependable artist be your trademark.