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Posted on July 22, 2009

You know the drill by now. There’s a new project in the office. Something fun. Innovative. Something that everyone in the office is excited about and wants to participate in. One of those projects that makes us LOVE WHAT WE DO. So we sketch, we brainstorm, we research. And, of course, we drink a lot of coffee. With all of our hard work, brilliance strikes! But the amazing thing is that it strikes all of us. The customer is going to be thrilled with all of the options we have to present to them!

With a glimmer in our eyes and hope in our hearts, the concepts are sent out to the customer. We wait patiently (OK, not so patiently) for their reply. And then it happens. They pick an amazing design, but…it isn’t YOUR design. It’s your co-workers. All of a sudden you’re attacked by a whirl wind of thoughts, emotions and doubt. You’re thrilled for your co-worker, of course you are! Their concept was awesome and they truly deserve the project. But there’s still a small part of you that is mourning the fact that your design wasn’t the chosen one. It’s a hit to your self-esteem, creates doubt in your creative skills and can be debilitating if you’re not careful.

What I’ve learned over the years is this: just because you’re idea wasn’t picked, doesn’t mean that it was a failure. It doesn’t mean that you lost your edge. Or that you are in the wrong career. It simply means that the customer had a personal preference for the other design. Graphic design, like fine art, is very subjective. Some people may love it, while others just aren’t feeling it. But that doesn’t mean that it’s bad, it just means that it didn’t speak to that person.

I personally will always feel a little let down when my idea isn’t picked. It’s part of my personality, and it’s part of what pushes me to do better next time. Call it competitiveness. Call it striving for perfection. Call it a little bit (or a LOT) of craziness. But the important thing is that I don’t let it affect my creativity or my relationship to the co-worker who’s design was picked. I like to see those around me succeed, and I’m OK with sharing the limelight every once in a while. That is after all how a strong team is made and how they stay together. We share in each other’s successes and learn from each other mistakes.

Do you need a new web site or blog design? A new brand identity or marketing collateral? At Moxie, you’ve found a design team with endless ideas for you and your company. Contact us or visit us at to learn how we can help you SUCCEED!

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Critiques – a Learning (and Growing) Experience

Posted on July 17, 2009

I LOVE DESIGNING. It’s my passion, part of who I am. I put my heart and soul into everything I create. Yes it’s true, I’m kind of a design geek. But hey, I’m OK with that.

One of the many, MANY processes graphic designers go through is group critiques. During school, at work, in online communities. After you have put in countless hours, worked your butt off, and probably had one-too-many cups of coffee, you have to face the firing squad. And let me tell you, they are NOT AFRAID to tell you what they think.

Often times you’ll leave a critique with some helpful pointers, things that you didn’t see because you’re too close to the project. Suggestions that you know won’t work, but you try it anyway to make the powers-that-be happy. And even some ideas that you don’t think will work, but surprise, surprise, they do!
Every once in a blue moon you’ll leave a critique with grin on your face, a hop in your step and your head held high. Everyone LOVED your ideas and no one suggested any changes. They were PERFECT!!! Granted, this doesn’t happen often, but it’s something that every designer strives for.

And then there’s the dreaded critiques where no one likes your work. You slaved away for hours, put your blood sweat and tears into it, and what did that get you? Silence and empty stares as your peers attempt to figure out how to let you know what they think, without tearing your apart. It’s every designer’s nightmare and something that we ALL go through.

How we deal with it says a lot about who we are, both as a designer and as a person. We could hold a grudge, convince ourselves that our work is FANTASTIC, that the other designers wouldn’t know great work if it hit them in the face. Or we can suck it up and admit that we are not perfect. Everyone say it with me now: “I AM NOT PERFECT”!

The truth is, a negative reaction only hurts ourself. It stops us from hearing what other designers (and customers for that matter) have to say about our work. It stops us from growing and improving as a designer. It stop us from communicating with our peers. And sometimes it can even stop us from trying.

In the real world we don’t always produce great work the first time around. Sometimes we have off days. Sometimes we just aren’t connecting with the project. Sometimes one designer can spend 30 minutes on a logo and come up with something brilliant while another designer slaves away for hours and comes up with squat. As frustrating as it is, that’s just the way creativity works.

Nobody likes to hear anything negative about their work, but I honestly think that 9 times out of 10 we knew deep down that it was not as good as it could be. Of course that doesn’t make the criticism any easier to take. But I think that some of the best work comes out of our biggest struggles. And we grow the most when we struggle. So instead of reacting negatively, we need to take that energy, turn it around and use it to our advantage. Easier said than done, I know. But if you really focus on using that energy to keep going, to keep improving, the next time around you just might have one of those PERFECT critiques.

Do you need a design team that is passionate about everything they do? A team WILL NOT GIVE UP until you are happy? Contact us or visit us at to learn how we can HELP YOU!

Staying Motivated – Even On The Off Days

Posted on July 15, 2009

Every so often I find myself dreading the office. Not because I dislike my job, or the people I work with (actually the people are the reason I come in on days like this). Maybe it’s the sunny, cloud-free day begging me to come outside. Maybe it’s the fam pulling me in a different direction. Maybe it’s the ice cream truck down the street calling my name (mmmm, ice cream sandwiches). But whatever it is, I just don’t have the motivation I normally have. What to do, what to do? Give up and call in sick? I don’t think so, that’s not the Moxie way! Instead, I power through it and before too long, I find my motivation returning at full force.

My Top 5 Ways to Stay (or Get) Motivated

  1. Make a List. Write down all of the projects you are currently working on, all of the projects that are ready to begin and all of the projects that need to be revised/updated. You might just realize that you have more to do than you thought. Sometimes just seeing the amount of work you have is enough to kick your butt into gear.
  2. Give Yourself Projects. Did you make that list and it came up short? No worries, give yourself a creative project. What would you design if you had no limits, budget constraints, or time line restrictions? This is a great time to free your creative mind. And if you’re really lucky, you can use this project for a future customer.
  3. Focus. Focus. Focus. Get rid of all distractions, be that co-workers, office pets, email, or the fridge (who doesn’t snack to avoid doing work after all?). If your only choice is to work or stare at the wall, you’ll soon find the motivation to get moving again (as soon as the boredom of wall staring gets to you).
  4. Remember, You’re Still Getting Paid. It’s a tough world right now and even if work is slow remember that you still have a job. Be thankful for that and focus on ways to make yourself a valuable part of the company.
  5. Learn Something New. One of the biggest motivators around is simply learning something new. Pick up a new skill, dive into a new program or learn about this thing they call Twitter. And along the way, you’ll add more value and skill for yourself and your company.

When all else fails do something other than the task-at-hand. Browse through the newest HOW buried on your desk. Take a quick walk through the office and try to un-motivate everyone else (or maybe their motivation will rub off on you). Go outside for a quick sprint around the block. Anything to get you out of the office and out of your head.

Are you looking for a creative team that is motivated to work with YOU (even those days when the the sun shining and the birds are singing)? Visit our main site to learn more about what we do, and how we can help you.

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