Design Tip 5 – Your work is your book cover. What kind of book are you?

What does your work say about you?

There are a lot of books out there non-fiction, fiction, thrillers, autobiographies and host of other genres. Once people determine what type of book they want to read their first impression is usually the book cover. Does it look interesting and does it entice the reader to pick it up and read it?  If your work was a book cover what would it say about you and what you do? And who would it appeal to? 

I've worked with a bunch of different clients throughout my career. From banks, video game companies, lawyers, sports companies and the list goes on. With each client I grew a ton of experience. And also put in a great deal of effort to help those clients succeed. But I always wondered was the work I was producing representative of what I wanted to be known for, and more importantly was it what I wanted to do creatively. At the time I didn't really think too hard about it. And for a long time I was happy. But over time it became clearer that I didn’t want to work on big corporate projects for 6 months at a time anytime. Too many meetings, red tape and stakeholders. That’s not to say I wasn’t having fun with some of those projects. But work takes up so much of our lives that I wanted to be excited about what I was doing EVERYDAY. 40% content with what I was doing was not good enough. There were a lot of projects but the more senior you become the more likely you will get posted to the larger jobs. 

So I started side projects to create the kind of work I wanted to do and have some fun. I posted some of that online. And luckily because of that I got engaged with clients in industries that I thought were exciting. I was focusing on curating that side of my work and to create a story. More editorial based, more typography driven and more simplistic. And at the heart of it all still driven by user and business goals. That was my new book cover and represented the kind of work that I wanted to do moving forward. It built consistency so when people looked in that’s what I represented and specialised in. And now with Verse I want to be able to share and teach the things that I’ve learnt. To be seen as someone who is contributing to the  design community. And releasing work that can help the careers of others. And slowly my book cover is changing again. 

Do the kind of work you want to be associated with and put it out into the world.

 

How can you achieve this? 

So identify what kind of work you want to do, what gets you excited and what you want to be known for. Use that as the basis for the work that you share, and craft your own book cover. If you want to work on creating apps for fashion brands. Start creating self initiated projects that support that vision and share it. And use that as a gateway to win your first client.  Once you have experience use that as your case study to show experience an engage with similar/larger clients. Or better yet go on your own path and create your own product.

Actions

1. Find what kind of work you want to do and make a start towards building up a folio of this type of work. It’s hard to find time I know. Particularly when you have a full time job, bills to pay etc. I’ve been there. An hour a day is all you need to dedicate. So try to start small and ride the momentum.

2. You need to curate the shit out of the work that you put out. Be consistent with what you share and what you want to be known. Consistency breeds clarity for those looking in. 

3. Start releasing work and trying to find clients that you want to work with. Or even start thinking about products that you want to create. There is nothing stopping you from DOING great work, no need to wait for a decision makers to give their APPROVAL to start. Just do it. Clients or no clients it’s up to you to craft your story. 

The world needs more designers doing their best work and what they're passionate about. I’m not saying quit your day jobs but find time to do what you enjoy, what makes you tick. And share it to create the book cover that best represents what you want to be.