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Keep It Professional (even when it’s personal)

Posted on June 19, 2012

Photo Credit: BANCO DE IMAGENS INVENTTA

 

“A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.”  –Alistair Cooke

I love this quote because it epitomizes how I believe a professional person should act. Having worked in this industry for almost a decade, I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the most amazing professional people, as well as a few people who have, er, challenged me. One of the main lessons I’ve taken away from all of these experiences is to always keep it professional, especially with clients. It will make all of your day-to-day interactions more pleasant and keep you an all-around happier person.

The key to keeping things professional is to try and focus only on the points related to the project topic and keep the personal opinions out of the equation. If topics veer off course into personal matters, try to keep them short and light. There is a long list of topics that should be avoided, but I know everyone reading this can probably figure out what they are. If it’s controversial or heated, it’s best left out of the workplace.

What if circumstances go even further and someone begins to verbally or personally attack you? The first thing to do is assess the situation to make sure this wasn’t something you inadvertently started. If it was, the best course of action is just to apologize. Often times a simple and sincere “I’m sorry, please forgive me” can go a long way. I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth a few times, not even realizing it until after the fact. There was no backtracking without looking like a bigger jerk, so I just stopped what I was doing and apologized. And it WORKED, and we were able to move on from that situation. Don’t be afraid of the “I’m sorry”, it will make your life a lot easier and calm the waters more quickly.

This is also a great strategy to use when you feel very passionately about your design and may cross a line defending it. As a designer, this is a feeling I understand very well. I created this (what I think is a) FABULOUS design. I love it, it’s like my most precious of possessions, and I present it to my boss or the client and they… DON’T love it. How could they not LOOOVE IT? It’s perfect! Trust me when I say it only appears to be this way because you are so close to it. Sometimes, as designers, it can be difficult to look at our own work with an objective eye. This is also true for thinking everything we make looks like a dirty bathroom stall when everyone else thinks it looks great. Most of the time it’s ideal to have another set of eyes look at what you are working on to give a fresh perspective.

Now if a personal attack was unprovoked, the best course of action is to address the other person’s “concerns” in a professional manner, trying your best to be kind and to the point. Try to diffuse the situation. Nothing good will come from stooping to the level of the attacker and getting in a few jabs. Though it might feel good at the time, in the long run it will only cause you more problems. It is also a good idea to document everything for future reference in case the situation escalates and documentation is necessary.

We’re all human, and you never know someone’s whole story. Maybe they are just having a really bad day and what you thought was innocent was a huge trigger for that person. Maybe the person is just a hot-head. Whatever other people’s reasons are for not being professional in the workplace, it doesn’t matter. The next time you are faced with a tense situation at work, take the high road. The only person you can control is yourself.




Make it a Habit: Adapt

Posted on May 21, 2012

The key to success is often the ability to adapt

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Animals adapt all the time to survive, evolving for changes in climate or environment. If you can adapt to change, you are more likely to have longevity in any area of your life—including as a graphic designer. Especially considering how quickly things can change and are changing in the design field, you will be left behind if you don’t adapt. Clients changing their minds—if you don’t adapt, you could lose them as clients. Even adapting to new software (anyone remember Quark?) can make a difference in whether your business is a success or not. Though there are many factors for success, being able to adapt plays a huge part.

Adapting and communication go hand in hand

Communication is one area where adapting will make everyone’s life a lot easier. For example, clients who rarely check email can be difficult to correspond with at times, especially if you’re used to doing most communication through email. If that is the case, then you will need to make a change (ie. adapt) to keep this client happy. A good compromise is to send your questions, files and correspondence through email, and then give them a quick call to let them know you sent the email. This way, they will have both all the information you want to convey via email, as well as the phone call to let them know you sent it. This will also give you an opportunity to touch base with your client and discuss the project.

Adapt: to make fit (as for a specific or new use or situation) often by modification

Sometimes as designers we become—for lack of a better word—stuck. We get “stuck” in our ways. We get “stuck” using the old programs because they are familiar, not because they are the best or even the easiest to use. We even get “stuck” in relationships with clients. We know their style backwards and forwards and all the ways that style can be applied to banners and sell sheets and websites. But after a while, it’s always good to give these materials a fresh look and see if there are any ways to improve the design. Keeping things fresh and adapting the design to the times is what keeps people interested. You could even see if there are any new programs out there that would help you better serve your client. Most clients appreciate their designers being proactive.

Once you get in the habit of adapting (and it is a habit), it’s much easier to go with the flow. It’s easier to take any challenge that comes your way and turn it into an opportunity. And every opportunity can be turned into something spectacular (even if it’s spectacular only to you).

Post written by Cristy Wiza.


(0) Comments   |   Filed Under: Clients/Customers, Communication    Tags: , ,


The Redesign for the Designer

Posted on September 3, 2010

Post written by Cristy Wiza.

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“That is EXACTLY what I was looking for!”

As a company that creates a lot of design pieces for our clients, this is a phrase we at Moxie love to hear. Or rather, we love to hear any variation of this phrase that means the client is happy with what we created specifically for them. And since we’ve been around for… a while, we usually have a pretty good sense of what will make our clients happy.

Except when WE are the client.

Let me explain. As designers, we have an arsenal of creative concepts and ideas just floating around in our brains, waiting for the perfect opportunity to wow our clients with “EXACTLY what [they are] looking for!” And for those times where it’s an especially creative or unique project, we have our hidden resources to inspire and entice the super extra creative juices (eww!) right out of us. In short, one way or another, we will deliver.

However, the catch 22 of design is that, as designers, we have so MANY amazing ideas just bouncing around in our heads that to focus on just ONE for ourselves is… well, a challenge. It’s more of an epic brain-battle of “we could do this… or THIS… OR THISSSS!!!” and it ends up being a round-robin of creative brainstorming with no final product. It doesn’t help that we’re also an office of perfectionists and the idea of settling on a design that is great (but not perfect) is just not an option.

So the brain-battle continues. The meshing of what our company does, who we are as a team and what we will provide for our clients into a super/awesome/amazing unique/bold/organic/strong logo/website/business card/image.

Sure. Yeah. No problem. I’ll have it to you by end of the week.

It only represents everything we are as Moxie.


(0) Comments   |   Filed Under: Clients/Customers, Creative, Office    Tags: ,


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