Expert Tips on Finding Confidence as a New Designer
Amy Robinson, graphic designer with a local professional sports franchise, offers these tips for students at The Art Institute of Phoenix—and for all design students—to help them as they transition from school to the real world. Robinson explains that every designer will deal with insecurity at some point in their career. For her, insecurity popped up when she started a new job or moved up in her career. She was able to overcome by surrounding herself with people and information that helped her to see past self-doubt. Here are her tips for overcoming insecurity.
Tip 1: Know your craft, know your worth.
You’re going to need to know your craft inside and out. In my case, it’s graphic design. Read all you can, ask questions, study and get feedback to hone your skills, and learn where your strengths and weaknesses are. If you are secure in what you’ve learned while studying and practicing, when the time comes (and it will come) for your design process to be questioned you’ll be secure in your answer. That being said, some students and early designers who would like to get their foot in the door will charge less because they don’t feel “good enough” or confident enough in their process. I will tell you now, you’re worth more than that.
Tip 2: Surround yourself with a positive tribe. Not “yes” people.
The key (in my opinion) to building healthy self-confidence is surrounding yourself with a truthful tribe. Growing up, my mother didn’t say yes to everything I wanted, and the occasional no didn’t make me worse for wear. Find people like this. You do not want to be around people who will say that 100% of your work looks great. Find the people that will ask if your design will actually work. In my case, it’s my best friend, Lisa, as well as other AIGA board members. Find those who will push you constructively and challenge you to be your best self.
Tip 3: Impostor Syndrome affects everyone at some point.
Impostor Syndrome is something a lot of designers don’t talk about. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s that feeling of uncertainty and insecurity that creeps in, usually right when you’ve landed a big job or a new client. You may feel like you’re in over your head—that you’re really not that good. But, there’s positive news. It’s a normal reaction, especially in a competitive, creative group, like designers. I’ve personally fallen prey to Impostor Syndrome a few times. When I was accepted into the design school at ASU, when I landed my internship, and finally in my full time in-house gig, I felt it. Each time, I made sure to reflect back on what I was taught, not only in school, but from the people who I trusted and looked up to. I asked my tribe for extra support. Most of all, I reminded myself that should Impostor Syndrome rear its ugly head, it’s only a temporary feeling and my work will show for itself.
Believe you’re a boss. Surround yourself with a knowledgeable tribe, and know your craft. This will help you to build the confidence to believe that you are good enough.
Amy Robinson is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Design School within the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. She interned at a local advertising agency prior to moving into the sports industry three years ago. Robinson is an active member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and serves on the executive board of the Arizona Chapter. In her free time, she enjoys both painting and freelance designing.
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