By Steve Favell
“One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.”
Easier said than done, Henry Ford.
Failure sucks. In particular putting your work out into the big wide world to have it rejected can feel like a personal attack. This for a freelance graphic designer is part of your bread and butter.
In January, I went full-time freelance for the first time and in turn made a subconscious decision to fail, and to fail often. Luckily, I managed to retain some projects from my previous job so I knew I had a few things on the books but apart from that the year started with me trying to feed myself without a salary.
This was exactly as daunting as it sounds… and, as it turns out, a lot more difficult and requires a lot more rejection than I had anticipated (duh!). Without a solid client base behind me I was pitching for a lot of different work, some through agencies, some through word of mouth, and losing a fair few. Highlights included doing some (very lucrative) design work for Pinewood Studios and some other nice branding work for smaller companies, but as previously mentioned, also, a lot of knockbacks.
Probably the biggest L was, with the start of the course creeping ever closer, to go back to full-time employment and continue to freelance on the side at the start of the summer. Not soon after going back to full-time employment, me and a friend started a design studio together, called How Old Are You or HOAY for short. It’s true, lot’s of things in life really are like buses – opportunities arrive in pairs… and if you’re not looking one could knock you over and kill you.
With the extra ground two people could cover alongside a renewed energy and direction we started winning some quite nice jobs and as off a couple of weeks ago, another friend has joined the team and I am truly excited to see where it goes.
I am slowly but surely learning to not be so precious about my work and since starting the course I think that is starting to sink in. After our first day of agency visits, where we visited Creature and Adam & Eve DDB, something Stu from Creature said really stuck with me.
“Book crits, book crits, book crits!”
Everyone’s first book is going to be shit and the quicker you get out there and start getting critiqued the quicker your book will improve and you can grow.
More pearls of wisdom on the subject of iteration come thick and fast during master classes, including “quality comes from quantity”.
Anyway, I guess all I need to do now is find a partner and start building my first (shit) book!