It’s likely you’ve been tempted to pursue perfection, the ever-demanding cycle of tremendous grit, unbridled perseverance, circumventing failure and continuous hustle. After all, it’s the perfect designer that seems to have the bigger social following, larger portfolio, and the most exuberant and satisfying career. Who wouldn’t want this?
Well, here’s the kicker: The perfect designer isn’t a designer at all. Perfection is incongruous within design.
When striving to become the perfect designer, or even believing that you are a perfect designer, you’re glossing over some of the most elemental aspects of design: Experimentation, failure, feedback, repetition, continuous unlearning and learning again.
Design is messy, rough, and anything but perfect.
The perfect designer doesn’t make mistakes.
It would ruin their perception of their success as a designer to acknowledge when they make a mistake. They might call these so-called mistakes blips or oversights, but never mistakes, and certainly never failures.
The perfect designer doesn’t need criticism.
Sure, they’ll participate in design critiques and client reviews, but do they take the criticism and digest it fully?
They won’t take the criticism but they won’t discredit the criticism out loud — it simply dissolves in importance in their mind and sums up to incompetency or jealousy of the critiquer.
The perfect designer brags about their education.
… Or lack thereof. While they don’t typically consider themselves prodigal by nature, they believe their previous learning experiences have given them skills, talents, and grit others may not be able to achieve if provided with similar experiences.
They are the best product of their circumstances, the best hand dealt during the entire night. Thinking otherwise would make them less important, unique, or proud of the adversity they’ve overcome.
The perfect designer works on the weekends.
Not out of necessity, but rather out of obsession. They have no hobbies, no TV shows on-list binge, no perspectives of the world outside of design. They believe any time spent outside of creating is time wasted.
They don’t believe in burnout or work-life balance — those relate to designers who aren’t as disciplined or prepared for a design career.
The perfect designer stays inside their comfort zone.
Stepping outside their comfort zone is a sure path to failure. Why try then, if you know you’ll fail?
The perfect designer doesn’t have time to fail, to experiment. They want everything they create to be automatically perfect, to be profitable and put in their portfolios.
The perfect designer thinks they’re perfect.
After all, what is perfection but a subjective opinion or mindset? They understand that believing and searching for indications that they are perfect will create a positive feedback loop of confidence and pride.
By admitting imperfection, you’re admitting that you’re bound to fail and be somehow insufficient in your chosen area of design. Such faults make you vulnerable to coworkers, bosses, clients, and your own doubt.
The perfect designer forgets where they started.
They forget all the mistakes they made on their first projects, the hours upon hours of faking it just to get somewhere, of the frantic learning on-the-job, of the hundreds of job applications that went unresponded.
They forget how it was to not be perfect.