Failure and Progression


This month Computer Arts published an interview with Paula Scher, who is a partner in a little firm called Pentagram. You may have seen their work around. Anyway, what struck me was her positive attitude about failure, and what a great experience it can be. I think she’s spot on, when we fail in our endeavors, it gives us a great opportunity to learn from our mistakes, and more importantly, learn that in most cases, our small failures are ultimately not that bad and we should not limit ourselves and avoid pushing our skill set due to fear of failure. In design, I get tremendous satisfaction out of wading into unfamiliar territory, and when things work out, it’s awesome, and when it doesn’t, I find that a better solution usually ends up presenting itself anyway.

Of course it’s not appropriate to be trying new things on every job, it’s certainly not fair to the client to misrepresent your skills in any way. Which is why experimenting on your own is so important, and when a job presents itself that does allow for you to push your skill set, the opportunity should be taken advantage of. Growing up as a competitive freestyle skier, later switching to snowboarding, and skateboarding as a kid, definitely gave me the desire and mindset for learning and progression. You’re constantly striving to learn new tricks, crashing and burning along the way until you’ve got it down. When it’s contest day and there’s money on the line, you learn to throw down the best thing in your bag and ride away clean. As soon as you stop learning, you might as well throw in the towel. The same is true for design, which I think is why I love it so much. The constant opportunity to fail, succeed and explore new terrain. It’s addicting.


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