How do you judge your success as a designer?


The world of a jobbing designer might not always be glamorous and well paid, but it makes up for it in other ways. Whether it's personal pride or fulfilling long-held ambitions, there are different markers of success for creatives, but what are they? We reached out to the community to find out.

01. Surprise recognition

Stanley Chow knew he'd made it when his children started recognising his work

“When my kids, who are four and seven, recognise my work,” says freelance illustrator Stanley Chow. “I took them to see Paddington Bear at the cinema and unbeknown to me there was a scene that featured an illustration for an ad that I did for McDonald’s. When the camera was panning around Piccadilly Circus, my illustration popped up on the cinema screen – both my kids stood up in the cinema and yelped, ‘Daddy, I saw your picture!’

“Also, there are a few posters and marketing campaigns that I have done dotted around Manchester. My kids frequently spot them before I do, and ask me, ‘Daddy, is that your picture? Are you famous?’”

02. Satisfied clients

For Ross Barber-Smith, nothing beats a satisfied client

“When a client’s reply blows me away,” says Ross Barber-Smith, the owner and web designer of Electric Kiwi. “I’ve had clients tell me they cried with happiness and excitement when they got the draft design over, because it captured their vision exactly.

“I've also had other clients come back to me after their site has been live for a while, telling me how much it’s helped them grow and enabled them to book more gigs across Europe. Hearing feedback and stories like that makes me feel great, and like I’m succeeding.”

03. Positive impact

GBH's Brinley Clark thinks a design's success is measured in its impact

“Success is many things. In sports, it’s trophies; in politics, it’s votes; and in design, it’s impact,” explains GBH's senior designer Brinley Clark. 

“I think you’ve got to ask yourself a few questions. Has the work has changed people’s perceptions? Has it made a positive impact on both the end user and the company implementing it? And perhaps most importantly – has it inspired other designers?”

This article was originally published in Computer Arts magazine issue 258. Subscribe here.

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