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I usually like the results of my work, but I hate it when I see it in real life. Not because it looks different, I just don't like that it exists. Recently I designed a logo and it got published online, and I feel bad for hating it. Do you feel the same? How to deal with it?

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    I don't believe this is answerable, beyond merely anecdotes and opinion. Remember Stack Sites aren't discussion forums. They are about direct answers to direct questions. -- That being posted.. I think everyone has moments of dislike upon seeing past work.
    – Scott
    Aug 31 at 18:20
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    I dont think this is a unanswerable question. It goes into job pychology, and probably does have a relatively good answer.
    – joojaa
    Aug 31 at 18:38
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    I sometimes feel the same. Once a job is done I often want to move on and don't look back. Even if I'm satisfied with the result. When a book or magazine comes from the press, I squint my eyes so my sight is blurred and flip quickly through it. Maybe a few days later I can take a closer look. I deal with it somehow, but I don't know how to help others deal with it. 😀
    – Wolff
    Aug 31 at 19:28
  • I think Curtis Holt covered this pretty well: youtube.com/watch?v=UxsFAivKZ_8 Sep 1 at 11:03
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    @joojaa it's unanswerable in the framework of StackExchange - sure, as current answers prove, you can provide anecdotes and opinions, but not any real quantifiable answer. If this were "I hate my dinner, what should I do?" Do you feel that would be answerable beyond opinion? Same basic question.
    – Scott
    Sep 1 at 18:21
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Not far into my career, I started noticing the same kind of thing. I realized that I was simply being MUCH harder on my work than the work of others. This could definitely lead to giving up on that line of work, please don't! Here's two things that I've done since this realization:

  1. Honestly ask myself "what's not so good about my piece, when compared to other similar works." Right away, I started pinpointing things that I could improve, (or admit that it's really on-par with the other work).
  2. When other designers request my criticism, I make an effort to treat their work like my own.

Bottom line, you can use it to your advantage!

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    Graphic designers get paid to be the one that truly worries about everything. So you build up a sense of responsibility which you must then suddenly let go of when the job is done. It takes some time to get used to. Even after 1000s of orders I still struggle with it sometimes. But I try to remind myself that nothing is ever perfect. It's always a compromise. Time/money, the quality of the text and assets, the client's taste and temperament etc. Also makes me go a little easier on criticizing other people's work.
    – Wolff
    Aug 31 at 19:43
  • +1. This sounds like a growth mindset, which is hard to cultivate, but very beneficial as you point out (and it helps you grow :)).
    – bob
    Sep 1 at 12:40
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I think understand where you are coming from. I think seeing your work makes you uncomfortable because you know that you can imagine it being much better than what sometimes it turns out to be. You are not at ease because you know that you can do better.

What I would suggest is that you practice and review your work with someone that you trust. Maybe someone that you admire that has a good design sensibility and that you know that can help you improve. Maybe a professor, a coworker, a family member, or a friend.

Another thing I would suggest is to practice much harder to achieve the type of work that really inspires you, that work that you look at and that you admire. Try to critique it to see if you can figure out why you like it and practice those things.

Finally, everyone produces work that we are not too excited about sometimes because of external factors, such as time, tools, expertise. It’s normal. You are normal! Just keep at it, keep practicing and you will become outstanding!!

Cheers!

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  • The question was not on how to improve. The question was about not hating one's work if it's already deemed to be of acceptable quality. Artists hating very good work they've done is quite common, even if their hatred of their own work is entirely unreasonable. I fear your answer may actually damage the artist's confidence if they're already doing good work. Sep 1 at 10:59
  • Thanks for the comment, my intent was to encourage and to give my thoughts about this as I have felt the same way in the past. I found this advise to work for me and offered it. Please provide your suggestion to help us if you have a different point of view. Sep 1 at 13:27
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It goes with the job. All designers be it Graphic or otherwise face this issue at times. The reason is that:

  1. You are intimately familiar with the constrains, reasons and decisions. So naturally you are also aware of the failings of your work. Every work will have failings, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    In a way the designer is the one who has to worry about everything (as commented by @wolff). This puts you in the unenviable position to see when one of your concerns becomes a problem. It is natural to see that problem from that moment onward.

    Just be aware that others do not necessarily see the problem.

  2. In order to have self growth you strive to become better. This forces you to look back and see what you could do better.

    This makes all failures obvious to you. But remember, your here to fulfill other peoples need, it does not have to be perfect.

  3. Times Change. What was good today is not good tomorrow

  4. Everybody will fail, eventually. Its how you deal with this failure that counts.

How to deal:

The main way you counter this is by not falling in love with your ideas. One way to do this is to work your ideas a bit more. Dont accept the first idea, the first idea is really easy to fall in love with but also the breakup is bad. Make more exploration rather than accept your idea immediately, work over longer time periods interleaving tasks.

Not everything has to be perfect. In fact they can not be perfect because nobody can afford that. This brings us to mechanism number two. Because your serving a client its natural that your work is not always the best quality since the client can not spend infinite resources to the project. Its your job to work within that constraint, and so you shouldn't feel bad that some of your work isn't top notch, if that wasn't the intention. Just remember you still need to train perfection in case you want to compete in the top notch bracket.

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  • Does this contain a quote from @Wolff, or vice-versa, or is it just a "great minds think alike" moment? Just noticed similar wording in the second paragraph of #1 here to Wolff's comment on Erion Omeri's answer, and was wondering if a mention was omitted, or if I had gotten the sourcing wrong?
    – bob
    Sep 1 at 12:45
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    @bob sortof i had originally written the document before i saw this. I then deleted it before publishing because wolf wrote the same but then added it back because that was in original. I could make it a quote
    – joojaa
    Sep 1 at 12:59
  • @bob anyway its something i have to tell my students at all the time. When they come to me with a worry in need to say that worrying is ok. If they dont worry i need to tell them that you should have taken care of this and that.
    – joojaa
    Sep 1 at 13:03
  • Agreed. Another possible issue is that in the workplace we're often forced to make something "good enough" due to schedule and budget constraints, and this can make it easy to feel this way.
    – bob
    Sep 1 at 13:20
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    5. You have been staring at the damn thing long enough to hate its guts.
    – papirtiger
    Sep 1 at 17:20
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I've done design for a while, and now I do programming. Some days I loath the source code I have to do as much as I loathed some art I used to do.

At some point I did some soul searching as for the reason why. In most cases, be it design or code, it's because I had a beautiful gem in my mind, something that would summon beauty from the world of ideas into the real world; but when I presented that to clients, their change requests butchered my beautiful baby and turned into a thing that should not be.

One thing that helped me was to practice detachment from my work that I do for money; I do feel good about some work that I did for myself, or family and friends (from whom I got some praise and appreciation). Other artists I know publish art of their own on social network, which helps showcase a portfolio and attract commissions; When I talk to them, they often feel more attached to the work they did for themselves than the commissions they've done.

And if you really hate some work you've done or have to do... I once printed a requirement I got from a client and taped it to a punching bag in a dojo I went to. Kicked it until I ran out of breath, felt totally refreshed mentally to implement that later at work.

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Perfection is the enemy of done.

Be proud that your client likes your work enough to use it to brand their business.

There are now other designers looking up to your work and garnering inspiration.

If you don't like your work because it was the result of "design-by-committee" then just make sure you got paid and never voluntarily admit that the atrocity was brought to life by your hands.


One thing to consider is whether or not you're suffering from Impostor syndrome.

If your thought process is:

I can't believe they're using that logo I worked so hard on.

Then that could be a sign that you're unnecessarily hard on yourself. They liked it, they approved it, so try not to look back except to avoid making past mistakes with new clients.

If your past work is the horrible result of design-by-committee then analyze the situation to try and avoid that scenario with future clients!


One thing I've noticed is that pure art has no purpose; it is performed as an complex expression of the soul.

Businesses don't need a complex expression of your soul, they need something understandable by the masses which will cause them to give money to the business.

So if you hate it because it's not "art" then just remember why you made it in the first place.


Last but not least.

The mark of a true professional is that they are able to communicate a complex topic to a simple person in terms that the other person can understand.

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