Tag Archives: Creative

I want it all, I want it now!

I think this is a problem that a few people face, particularly in creative pursuits.  You finally find something that you love to do. You become a sponge and read everything you can find, follow all the latest news and trends and you get an idea of where you want to go and the look and feel you would like.

But there is one small problem, you haven’t given yourself time to practice, to refine your craft and develop the strong foundations you need to support you as you launch yourself into the stratosphere.

Now as a few of you may have already guessed, this is a realisation that is hitting me hard at the moment.  I spent so long looking for something that I love to do, that I understand and that inspires me that I want it all now, I want to be an expert now, I want to know everything, to be able to do everything, to not make mistakes and be able to create the visions of design that I see in my head.  But alas this is not always the case.  Of late I’ve been pushing myself to the limit trying to get everything moving as fast as possible, I figure why wait? It took me this long to figure it out, I can’t waste anymore time in getting where I want to go.

But is it a waste of time to develop and hone and refine your craft?

I think not.  As hard as it feels to do at the moment, I’m starting to realise that I need time and practice.  That pushing myself to be a professional freelance web designer in one easy step really isn’t giving me the foundations and grounding I need to really succeed.

I’m beginning to understand that if I rush too much now, I’ll finish my degree and still be uncertain of my own style, still not have the foundations I need to be great, and still be unable to create the elusive visions that flash across my mind.

So if you’re at the beginning of something you really want, although it may seem better to move fast, speed through the boring fundamentals and get to the fun stuff at the end, my advice is take your time, practice your craft and give yourself the space to learn, to make mistakes and to grow.  Because if you don’t allow yourself the time to develop your foundations, you may fly high, but you’ll fall back down just as fast.


In for a penny, in for a pound

When embarking on a journey such as this you start to question your previously held beliefs about your value in the world.

At the moment my ‘day job’ (which is actually a night job so that I can study and create while my mind is fresh) pays what is a decent amount of money for my skills and expertise.  But as soon as you begin to create something, to branch out and generate thought, ideas, content and creativity all preconceptions about what your time is worth go out the door.

Looking into the winding and unknown road of freelance and entrepreneurialism makes you double check the value you’re putting on your time.  At the moment I’m selling the precious hours of my life for a price that on the surface seems acceptable even inflated for the work I’m doing, but on contemplation feels ridiculous.  My time, my life is worth less than $30 an hour.

Don’t get me wrong I really enjoy my job and the people I work with are great, but it’s not what I love.  It doesn’t excite me the way even the vaguest daydreams of my own freelance Web Design & SEO business excite and energise me.

This is what Robert Frost lovingly referred to the road less travelled by, and as with everything that is not a standardised, prepackaged, mass marketed portion of a ‘normal’ life experience, comes an inherent danger and fear of the unknown.  The unknown in the journey and the unknown in yourself.

So how much am I worth in this new world?  Who knows.  At the moment I’m working on web sites just for the pure fun and experience of it.  My time is reimbursed through knowledge, experience and ignited passion and creativity.  Now thats a trade that makes you smile.

But how to make the change from the mainstream to my own stream?  How much will my time be worth?  How much will I need to compromise myself, my creativity and my values in order to make a living doing what I love?

 


Am I a strategic thinker or a creative?

Recently scrolling through the myriad of blogs, articles and tutorials around web design, I came across a post about the different approaches one can take on in an effort to create and promote themselves as a web designer. Even at these the initial stages of my web design journey, I find the dichotomy of the need to be creative and the push for strategic and logical thinking within myself hard to reconcile to say the least.

In her article ‘Creativity vs. Strategy: What do people really want?’, Kendra Gaines (2011) addresses the need for both creative and strategic thinking to become a great web designer. On the one hand she describes the way that creativity is the essence of design and a sensitive beast that can be stifled by overthinking or too much analysis. Conversely she describes the benefits of being strategic and ensuring you prepare yourself logically for what is to come and what you need to undertake. To me, the ideal balance between these two worlds is illustrated in web design by the creation of wireframes on one hand, and storyboards on the other. The wireframes represent the strategy, you are logically and deliberately planning in the simplest way possible how to structure a website to optimize usability and return on investment for your client. The storyboard (the most fun for me) shows the aesthetic of the site, what colors will be used, how the menu will be dynamic, the imagery you’ve created to deliver optimal branding to your client.

As found by Gaines (2011), I too am a mix of strategic and creative thinking. But the real challenge is finding the RIGHT mix between the two, and ensuring that they nurture and enhance each other. Because you can be the most creative person in the world, but if you have no strategy around what to do with it, you won’t get very far.

Gaines, K. (2011) Creativity vs. Strategy: What do people really want?, http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2011/11/creativity-vs-strategy-what-do-people-really-want/ (Accessed 4 November 2011)


My first client!

And so it begins…

My next big step in the journey towards being a Web Designer happened this week, I successfully obtained my first official client! (On a volunteer basis)

Ok, so I’m not yet being paid to make and remodel business and community websites with the trademark aesthetic that has made me famous the world over… Yet! But I have secured a job volunteering my growing expertise and skills redesigning the website for Pride March Victoria.

If you haven’t heard about them they are a community based organisation that is part of the International Pride association running pride marches and queer celebrations world wide.  Every Summer the finest in Victorian queer culture proudly marches in St Kilda to show that we are here, we are queer and we’re proud about it.  I’m so honoured to be given the opportunity to work with such a fantastic organisation and one that promotes such a fantastic message.

So, bring on the wireframing, drafting and consultation I’m ready to jump head first into my first ‘real’ re-design job! I know it will be an amazing experience that will make me a better person and designer.  Watch this space for updates!


Why Web Design?

The perfect storm of a creative, logistic and scientific mind.

This is what makes Web Design so formidable.  Evolution tells us that it is not in our nature to have both our creative (right) and logical (left) sides of our brain working at the same high level.  But this is what Web Design asks us to do.

Creatively you need to see the end product, to envisage beauty, sleek lines, beautiful or powerful images, you need to see each page as its own work of art, having its own beauty and fitting into the showcase of the website as a whole. A website is not raw creativity, you can’t  just envision your page and start painting it using fine motor skills that we have developed over thousands of years, in the technological age it would never be that easy.

In order to translate your vision there is a myriad of technical hurdles to jump, you need to think about usability, will anyone be able to go to the site and intuitively know how to get where they want to go?  You need to think about functionality, do you need a sidebar on the left, the right or both? Do you need a footer? Do you want the menu to drop down or pop up? How will this affect click through rates? Will you need to reference the work or images of another?

Once the vision of the page is determined, and the site’s functionality is drilled down, the web designers job is not over, no not by a long shot.  This is when the days of endless coding come in, typing frantically into the night, squinting at lines of seemingly illogical code looking for the hidden piece of the puzzle that will make your vision a reality.

Web Design as a pursuit pushes anyone who commits to it, if you are a naturally strong creative person it draws you in and then challenges you to be systematic and logical.  If you are left brain dominant, it pushes you to stimulate your creativity, to draw on inspiration from others to find your own vision.  I believe this is why Web Design is such a booming industry at the moment, every business needs a website to survive.  If you’re not on Google, you won’t be found.  This is forcing the Web Design industry to push the boundaries of their creative, usability and technical sides to have continuous growth and improvement.


In the beginning

In the early hours of the morning I found myself yet again staring furtively at the screen, my eyes weary from hours spent searching the endless lines of code for an answer that I was starting to believe wasn’t going to come. As I rise to fetch a new mug of coffee to fuel my endeavors for hopefully another hour or so, I ask myself “Why?”

Flashback to a few months earlier, I am at home, slumped on the couch half watching a TV show just to pass the time.  I’ve returned from another day at work, going through the motions, doing the same thing I did the day before, and the same thing I’ll do tomorrow.  A sobering thought flashed across my mind, the same thought I’d had for as long as I can remember “Is THIS all I can do?  Is this all I’m meant to be?”

Then something changed, an idea, a spark of life, an online business.

My friends and I decided to create our own business, but how to get it online?  I’ve always been technically minded, always wanted to know how things work, why they work, with a keen eye for detail, systems and patterns.  As soon as the website was mentioned, something deep inside me said “I can build it”.  Up to this point I’d never had any training or experience with web design or any other kind of programming, but still this voice “I can build it”.

Despite my lack of experience, my friends put their faith in me to bring our website and our business to the world.  I started reading, I watched seminars, I downloaded videos, I attended online conferences, I signed up to every web design blog/article/magazine I could find.  Slowly but surely it started coming together.  The more I learnt, the more it fuelled me to discover more, the more it challenged me the harder I pushed myself.  I was driven, I was alive!  But there was only so much I could learn on my own.  On a leap of faith and without a second thought I enrolled in an Internet Communications & Web Design degree and I’ve never looked back.

The internet has changed the world and continues shape the way we live.  Web design is the perfect mix of creative and logical thinking, driven by beauty and inspiration, built from systematic technicality, built for me.