You’re not a design rockstar
Oh, you. You only design with serif fonts “it makes my work seems more classic, all while being an ode to the history of graphic design”. Your logo is a monogram with the first letters of your first and last name (what else could it be? DB, for Douche Bag). You only wear designer brands, designer shoes, designer pants, and if you’re not rocking the latest Apple gadget you’ll let everyone know that “I’ve pre-ordered, it should be here any day now”. You go to every design event. You’re a “speaker”, and you only talk about “making great work”. Your design idol is Steve Jobs and you wear round glasses just like he did. You call yourself a design rockstar but you can’t even play the harmonica (or maybe you play a Casio Synth, I honestly don’t know what’s worse). Your “about me” on your portfolio is a photo of you in front of a whiteboard, with your idiot glasses waving your hands in the air while holding a pencil. You can’t even draw on a whiteboard with a pencil..
But then again, you don’t really reply to emails from kids that look up to you as inspiration, you don’t accept any critique on your work “Oh, I won a Whateversy 2.0 award for my latest project”. And your twitter serves only to “share your wisdom” and partake in some witty banter with your like-minded elitist designer friends from Dropbox or Facebook that just came from another trip to “San Fran”.
Oh, go suck a bag of dicks, will you?
Uff. Sorry for that, I really had to put it all out there. But all hate aside, here’s the gist of it:
If you’re too pretentious, chances are that people won’t like you. Of course that confidence is needed. It’s a crucial component of a designer’s attitude to be confident. After all, most of our work is public and we’re prone to “attacks” from everywhere (just like this post!). And you really need to be able to trust that the work you’ve done is good and meets the objectives. BUT, you shouldn’t be a dick about it.
Also, if you don’t call yourself a designer and choose instead to call yourself something along the lines of “Rockstar”, “Ninja”, “pixel wizard” or “Chief of Digital Fun Times”, that is, as Stefan Sagmeister so bluntly puts it, bullshit.
No F*ckhead, You Are Not a Storyteller - Stefan Sagmeister
People already appreciate good work and your qualities, specially if you don’t boast about them all the freaking time. When was the last time you heard a guy bragging about his huge penis? (I really hope never, otherwise consider getting new friends). Modesty is also a great quality, and people connect and appreciate much more with modest people.
No one will trust you if you don’t know what you’re doing. But push that confidence too much and you will push your clients away as well. And most importantly, the people around you. No one likes a wise-ass. You want to be a rockstar? Take a look at what Jeff from Ugmonk said on twitter.
It’s all about keeping a good balance of trust, respect and confidence. It’s about keeping a good relationship with your peers and your client, and not letting your ego get in the way. It’s how you should live your life, not just your design career.
André do Amaral is an amazing designer that worked at Huge and is now with Squarespace that I, personally, look up to. The quality and style of his work is great, and even though I already respected him as a designer, I started respecting him even a lot more after reading this article.
When I do good work I’m not looking for awards. It’s first and foremost about doing the good work. I want to be respected within the team I work with rather than being a design rock star. — André do Amaral
And when I see a great designer being so down to earth and modest, it makes me grind my teeth whenever I see other people acting like elitists and like they’re entitled to whatever they want. But that’s just me, filled with hate probably because I didn’t had as much love and attention during my childhood as I should. Or maybe I have a genome defect that makes me prone to hate people who are dicks.
If you suspect that you might suffer from design douchebaggery, my friends from Webdesignerdepot have an 8 step plan to help you improve your condition.
So no, you’re not a ninja, you’re not a badass, a rockstar, a superstar, a design hero or the next big thing since sliced bread. You’re a designer, and a person. So act like one.
Oh and also, if in your profile picture you’re wearing Google Glasses, you’re an idiot. We all know that those aren’t yours. You just tried them on in some overpriced event. So stop trying so hard to look hip and from the future, you’re not Iron Man.