“When you are making good money? When you enjoy what you do? When you win awards? When you go freelance? When you own your own company?”
These questions were asked by Lauren Marie Krause who wanted to find out what other designers think about success and what was their career path like. I got tagged by Tara from GraphicDesignBlog and then by Lisa Sabin-Wilson to talk about my experience as a Designer by answering to Lauren’s questions below:
1. How did you get started in the business?
In 1996 I graduated with Bachelors Degree in Computer Science, and soon got a full time job with a non-profit organization as an Administrative Assistant. But they quickly noticed that I was much happier doing any computer related work than administrative tasks, and especially once they saw that I got hooked on the newest toy – internet, they promoted me to the Network Administrator of a newly opened Internet Centre for students. Soon after that another Internet Centre was opened for businesses and I was assigned to teach Internet classes and Web Design.
Since then the only other jobs I was managing to get were teaching Web Design and Programming. So from the very beginning whatever I was learning myself I was teaching others. Despite the fact that I studied Computer Science for four and half years, I was self-taught in Web Design.
After 6 years of teaching I was ready for more hands-on real world stuff, so I started my own web design business – VG Universe Design. I’ve been always perceived by many as a Web Programmer rather than a Web&Graphic Designer, so venturing into my own freelance business allowed me to show a bit of my creative side by taking on some design jobs. It is rather ironic that I was recognized by many as a programmer when actually what made me to study Computer Science was my love to draw since childhood and Computer Graphics.
2. What kept you going in those early years?
Passion, Curiosity and Challenge. Passion to learn, to express myself creatively in both art and programming. My curious mind was turning me into an explorer. I wanted to know how web sites work, how a certain effect on them was achieved, how to get a site to work as I wish, how to digitally express my artistry. And I always loved to challenge myself. Can I conquer this new programming language, master this image editing tool, get a grip on this design concept, juggle with and actually complete two-three projects at the same time.
3a. Did you ever feel like you weren’t good enough or you would never make it in this industry?
Yes, many times. There’s so much competition in my field in Vancouver that it’s shocking sometimes.
3b. How did you work through that?
By learning and challenging myself, by reading tons of books, magazines, studying and imitating techniques of other professionals. And at the same time I was trying to find what makes me unique and in some cases better than them. I have three significant advantages: I love and can do both design and programming, so my clients have to deal only with me; because of my teaching background I can educate, guide and consult my clients with an ease, often figuring out what their needs are better than they can do themselves; and finally, I’m a quick learner and I’m always ready and willing to improve my skills set. On the other hand I know my limits – I don’t take on projects with a website entirely done in Flash, nor do I tackle strictly print oriented work. I’d love to know it all, but there are only 24 hours in a day and I can’t be alert all 24 of them.
4. Do you look at others today and think “Wow, I wish I were that good”?
Of course, I do. I can get easily overwhelmed by all those talented designers and gifted programmers who are much better than I am. But without them I wouldn’t have my sources of inspiration. I perceive them all as my teachers and try to pick up as much knowledge from them as I can.
5. How do you measure success?
Success = Clients/Employers Praise = Peers Respect = Students Admiration = Self Confidence = Self Satisfaction
6. By your standard, do you think you are successful?
I’m on the right path to success but not quite there. When I will design a beautiful WordPress theme from scratch, write useful plugins (after graduating Plugin Writing Course), become a full time freelancer, make my first million, then perhaps I’ll consider myself to be a successful designer. Until then I feel happy and fortunate that I enjoy my work and love what I do.
What about you? Do you consider yourself successful in what you do? How do you measure success?