(A brief lesson on becoming a grown-up)
As a kid, I was always passionate about my stance on issues and worldview. There were times that being stubborn and bullheaded worked to my advantage, but mostly did not. My father always taught me that being a good person took precedence over being a smart or successful person. I still adhere to that, vehemently. Don't get me wrong, I am always seeking knowledge and learn from past failures, but becoming a better version of myself each day is the most important.
I began my journey in the creative field when I was around 20. I was ready to take on the world. "Watch out! Because Josh Garner is the man who can get it done!" Little did I know that I wasn't anything special and that all of the butt-kissing and "safe spaces" that I received at a university didn't exist in the real world. At first this was a lot to take in. "Wait, Im not awesome???" "Im not worth 60 dollars an hour straight out of college????" With this attitude, I didn't get very far, especially in an extremely subjective field. Having thick skin is number one in a creative setting, any job for that matter, but especially visual communication. I think it was Michelangelo that said "Even a homeless person can see if something sucks or not." (Obviously paraphrased).
My time as a new designer just starting out had it's challenges, mainly other people's opinions on work that I had created. When you have morbidly obese sales guys and engineers playing Art Director, with you on the chopping block, things could get a bit tense. I would return from meetings physically drained and ready to get the hell out of the creative field altogether. I decided on a new approach. Become more receptive, even if I didn't completely agree with someone. Even kernels of greatness can come from a "bad idea". It all depends on how you look at it and interpret. Instead of poo-pooing an idea right off the bat, I would suggest a different approach. "I just dont like it." is probably the most intellectually dim critique someone can give in a creative setting. "What if we?..." "Perhaps it would be better if we...." is much more effective.
You don't have to be a total roll-over, limp-wristed wimp, accepting everyones suggestions. On the other end of the spectrum, being a complete jerk doesn't jive well either. Somewhere in the middle is where I have found to be the most productive. Being a jerk is something that comes naturally for myself, but that's another article.
Over the years, I have developed thick skin and more importantly, a more receptive and open mind to other points of view, even if they ran counter to my own initial thoughts on a project. Everybody can have a good idea. Its our job as creative people to filter, analyze and come up with the logistics and execution to bring it to fruition. The shift from fresh-out-of-college Design Diva to Seasoned Vet was taking place. I noticed less stress and an increase in my client base $$$ and sex life, wait, what? where am I?...
All around, it was a good transition and awakening. You have to think, especially in an in-house position, "Is this really worth defending, or am I letting an ego get in the way of the final outcome?" Pick your battles and know when to fold. Not every issue has to be fought to the death. Plus, you get paid the same anyway, headache or not.
The day is yours, you can make it bad, good or great. Your perception is your own reality.
- Josh Garner