For reasons why you can’t give design work to a client without giving them a proper presentation of it first, a spokesperson is needed.
You’d be doing your hard work a disservice by avoiding showing how others can connect to it on a human level.
The audience wants to be told the journey, and how you got there. Surely that would be more important and captivating than a note that says, “Hey Cheryl, the first round of logos is attached to the latest email. Let me know which one clicks.”
Presenting is an art, and it often gets traded in for technical ability (both of which are important, but only one can build a relationship with a human audience).
The work needs a spokesperson. Finishing the work only brings us partially there, and the other part is how we make others connect with it.
A typical designer’s portfolio will hold work that’s been done in the past. While the current you is elsewhere, your portfolio will always lag behind. Yet, it’s what most employers want to see when hiring designers and artists.
Then there’s the internal guilt we feel when we know our portfolio is not nearly where we ideally want it to be.
So we face the paths of:
Doing the notorious portfolio rehaul whenever we make a pivot in our careersChoosing to make regular visits so that it’s not months or years behind, but days behind.
But either of these choices will still speak to a past self and will only represent a one-dimensional side of you.
What’s more valuable is knowing who you are and what you stand for as a creative.
We can spend days fixing the nitty gritty aesthetic bits of a website that we’ll share around for a while, but the real work is in the person herself who exists separately from her website.
What does it mean when someone expresses says something they don’t like about your work?
How do you wholeheartedly feel off the bat?
It could be hurt, confusion, anger, frustration, disdain for yourself or for the criticizer.
Sometimes we see a knee-jerk reaction of self-defence, where the artist tries to hold strong and justify their position to what’s being said. Other times, we see the artist welcome and accept all feedback, knowing that she’s in control of the final outcome anyways.
Being a designer or artist isn’t about being right. If it was, we’d be better off in the mathematics department.
Instead, it’s about challenge and seeking possibility in a world where change needs to be made on a daily basis.
So rather than making the criticism all about you, keep focused on the bigger picture of what’s being challenged because that’s much more important than what one person (without skin in your game) believes.