Designers that really break out from the mainstream – from the worlds of average or pretty good – they all seem to have a moment, or a project, or an idea that propels them. How many designers slowly and quietly build up to greatness? Or to notoriety? How many designers roll casually into a position of prestige – with access to the best professional and creative opportunities? No, they bust out with something striking, and they figure out how to get it in front of people. The name gets around, and the creative gets around, and a heavyweight is born. It almost seems like we could craft that trajectory for ourselves, with just a bit of self-promotional savvy. And a bit of that striking creativity.
It doesn’t have to be a high profile project for a high profile client. Although that helps. You know the power of a mass audience. Greatness in front of 10 million people will get you farther than greatness in front of 10 people. Then again, the larger the project, the more likely your creative work will be part of a collaborative and diluted effort – less yours, less genuine. So then the mid-range project, the freelance project, the pro-bono project; these are the projects where it’s most likely to happen.
I don’t even want to touch the design annuals issue, but exposure in any form, especially exposure to your peers, can help you on your way. Do clients really read those magazines? Do they really look for firms in the Print Regional Design Annual? Print would say they do, but ehhhh…here I go, touching the design annuals issue. Like everything else these days though, organic growth/viral exposure are where it’s at. Because they’re genuine. Recommended and approved by people you (may or may not) know.
The question is, are you and I rolling through our creative careers being nothing more than good (maybe really good?), but anonymous? I think we are. It’s one of those enjoying-the-ride vs. captaining-the-spaceship sorts of things.