Daniel Nisbet

Episode 32  |  April 24, 2018

How to be a confident graphic designer

I remember when I graduated from high school and started my first semester in college. I was super excited to embark on my creative journey and see how well I stacked up against the rest of the world.

When I was in high school, I didn't have much to compare myself against. I was one of those students who had a big, grand vision for the world. During that time, I didn't think that my work was all that terrible. But, by the time I got to college, reality set in very quickly.

People from all over the United States came to our design program and I started to see a new level of creativity and pure genius that I lacked. Quite frankly, it was a blow to my confidence. I had been in my own little bubble for so long, and all of a sudden it was being challenged. I realized I had a lot of work to go.

I think confidence in designers is a finicky thing. It's there for a moment when a project goes and then disappears in a blink of an eye when we get some terrible feedback from client.

So how do you keep and build this confidence?

Well, to be honest, it's not as hard as it seems. But it's one of those things that we have to give a bit of care and attention to every single day.

Find the quick wins

Just find something small. It could be as simple as drawing a letter that looks cool! No matter what, it should be simple and fast. The idea is to build up gradually—like a snowball.

That letter could turn into a logo. The logo could turn into a brand. The brand could take form of a website—you see this is going.

That quick win under your belt builds confidence. By starting with anything larger, its easier to get discouraged quicker and stop your progress.

Get regular feedback from good mentors

I'm probably going to have a future episode with going more into more detail about mentors. But here's the thing: when you do find a good mentor, reach out to them as much as you can without annoying them. If they're good, they'll understand.

Getting regular feedback is essential to grow without making you feel terrible. A mentor might point you down better paths that you weren't pursuing as much as you should.

There's a lot to be learned from someone who has "been there" and "done that." They understand where you're at and can help you navigate around some traps or moments that trip you up. And make sure to pay it forward. I was able to take what I learned from my mentors and pass on as much of that advice as I can.

Challenge yourself

This kind of goes along the line with the quick wins.

Fnd something new, exciting, or different and try it. It doesn't need to be pretty or perfect—just challenge yourself. It can lead to a quick win, which is even better.

The fun part about learning something new, is you can apply it towards future projects. Or maybe you discover that you're really good at something that you didn't even know!

Learning things I didn't know can be a rush of adrenaline for me. Getting the hang of something is always a huge confidence boost, too.

So those are my three quick tips for building confidence. It's not something that changes overnight, but it builds up over time. You just have to put in the work every day. And over time, you'll start to feel the impact that it can have not only on you, but your work as well.