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Monday, April 18, 2011

Trying Something New

I have had issues in the past with uploading and attaching my portfolio samples. The files are large because I want a high resolution when they print. Well, instead of attaching a massive Zip file to every email I send and having half of them kicked back, I am trying this:

Hopefully it will be well accepted. I figure as Internet Communications Chair I should be utilizing these types of things!

What do you think? Comments welcome♥

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tooting Your Own Horn

Part of my Sunday has been spent working on an article for the NEWH Atlanta magazine. I was given the assignment of writing an article about a particular Atlanta based design firm and a hotel project they completed in San Diego, CA. As I jotted down notes on the audio recording I took when interviewing one of the owners and read the press releases about the hotel, I began to think about just how much these designers/firms talk about themselves and their work. My own boss has a tendency to relate any topic of conversation to past projects or a unique solution he came up with. It's frustrating to his employees because he prominently uses "I" instead of "we". But does it frustrate the other people involved in the conversation? Do they see it as bragging or marketing?

Where should a designer draw the lines between pride, ego-stroking, bragging, self-promotion, and sharing experiences? How do you know when tooting your own horn is getting too loud?

Creating the correct dynamic for self promotion is very important to me right now. While I am trying to establish myself as a capable designer and I have gained more hands on experience than most first year designers, I know that I am far from being able to find solutions for all of the issues that arise in a project's scope of work. Like I said in my last post, I have a learning curve, but I know that I have the ability to pick up skills quickly. I know that I will one day be a competent, efficient, effective designer. Skills like confident public speaking and being comfortable meeting new people have always come naturally to me, but expressing how and why I am a step above has not.

Basically, I don't have the gene that makes me toot my own horn voluntarily.

Growing up I was taught to be humble, don't beg for compliments, you shouldn't have to tell people how awesome you are because it will show on its own. I was taught to always give credit to the group because "if you ever see a turtle on a fencepost, you know he did not get there by himself!" This makes things like defining skills, composing a coverletter and resume, and answering questions about my work difficult. I don't want the content of my coverletter to read like an Oscars acceptance speech.
"First of all, I would like to thank The Academy... (pause for effect).. And I would like to thank my dad for helping me move furniture in my room so often as a child and HGTV for giving Candace Olsen a show. Thank you to all of my professors and classmates, especially when I had not slept in days and looked like the walking dead and they still acted like I had good ideas even though I was speaking gibberish..."

How absurd!
So my challenge for the upcoming opportunities is to get into a "moi mode" and come up with some really great self-selling points. I feel that with my current position and hang ups, it might be most advantageous me to toot my horn in a way that will show how I will benefit other designers, projects, and efficiency in a firm.
Here goes...


Friday, April 15, 2011

Learning Curve

I am really sick of screwing things up! I have a learning curve the size of a TIDAL WAVE!! I keep trying to tell myself that I will get better, but sometimes I sincerely wonder if I just have good people skills and am actually a really crappy designer.

Today I had the assignment of delivering accessories to a client's office and assisting his maintenance man in hanging shelves and art. I royally screwed up two canvas pieces by spacing them apart on the wall instead of clustering them together on one side. I should have remembered this is how my employer wanted it since I have gone with him several times to assist with art installations. Somehow my bran managed to turn off, and I messed up again. It was only after I walked proudly out of the building with my head held high thinking about how I am one tiny step closer to becoming the fabulous designer I dream of being that a strong and bitter dose of humility was shoved down my throat. With great confidence, I emailed photos of the accessories, shelves, and art arranged in the office to my boss with only the title "Client's office photo". I thought the image would speak for itself as to how capable I am! The reply message simply stated that the canvas pieces needed to be 3 inches apart, and that they are not large enough to carry the wall.

My heart sank. . . along with my stomach. How silly I felt! How utterly ridiculous! How naive! I blame my carelessness for sure. I immediately took responsibility for the mistake and told my boss that I would fix it when I voluntarily deliver the other accessories requested by the client. I readily admitted that I had screwed up.

I also felt a great sense of unfairness. I stayed on that end of town most of the day so I could help the client complete the installation around his schedule. I put myself in a completely unfamiliar place with people I had never met. I was paid nothing for this specific errand. My boss would have had to deliver them and miss a deadline for another project had I not agreed to run the errand. I did mess up, but I also did the other parts of the install correctly and with a smile. And I did not receive one single iota of thanks from my boss. Not one ounce of encouragement or appreciation.

I'm not looking for hand holding, but I have tried to explain to him that I am not a expert designer yet. I am not a project manager. I do not have years and years of experience. I am still learning and digesting and absorbing so much everyday that sometimes it does not all sink in. I cannot expect to do everything correctly the first time, and he cannot expect me to know everything. If he is not going to make the time to sit down with me and explain in detail how he wants things executed, then he cannot expect me to get everything exactly how he wants it on the first try or even sometimes the second and third tries. And if I continue to hear only criticism, I will lose confidence and question even the things I do well.

So, to put a band-aid on my deflated self-confidence, here are a few things I have done right this week:
  1. Attended the NEWH 2nd Tuesday Event and met some new designers.
  2. Switched seasons in my closet and purged a pile of clothes, shoes, and bags.
  3. Updated a few areas of the NEWH website.
  4. Gave my boyfriend a haircut.
  5. Updated the look of my blog and added a few new gadgets to the sidebars.
  6. Took my great grandmother out to lunch at Waffle House.
I'm SO ready for things to get better and to get better at things.