How Do You Know When You’re A Successful Designer?

by Calvin Cox on September 23, 2008

success-image-2Let’s face it, we all want to achieve some level of success as designers.  We work very hard in pursuit of the  inspiration and the right balance of creative genius that commands rave reviews.  We design and redesign and redesign right up to our deadlines, second and third guessing our color palettes and line thicknesses,  looking at the finished product from all directions,  all for what,  some level of success I assume. It’s interesting that I get into heated discussions with my web designer/developer over the art direction of my website – and I’m the one paying (He could easily say OK, if that’s what you want? I’ll do it, but he doesn’t- after all he’s an artist/designer first and a businessman second, so I can’t blame him for the passion he has for what he does)  Which bring me to my question,  as a designer how do you define success, or rather how do you measure it?   Are we after the money or fame or is it the satisfaction of our work  appreciated by others enough?   And if it is both, can we really  have our cake and eat it too?

I’ll be the first to admit that when I thought of being successful, it use to be about money for me.  The things that I’d be able to do and the places I would be able to go with my new found financial freedom, and even though I still seek the satisfaction of a beautifully design project,  I never equated that to  being a part of my success repertoire. As more freelance designers enter the industry looking to carve out their own niches,  I’m reminded that our views of success vary from designer to designer.  But should it be that different?  Tara from Graphic Design Blog wrote a great article on “when do you consider yourself a successful designer“, where she answers most of the questions I proposed above from her point of view and experience, who by the way, prompted this post on designer success, but I wanted to take it one step further to try to clarify something for myself.  I know that good business practice tells us that we need to track our progress, gauge where we are and grow our  business systematically.  So if that’s the case, don’t we need a solid measure of what a successful  designer is?

I would like to know  if we can measure success as an industry and if we can what are the parameters on which we should measure it?  is it how many clients we have,  or our ability to stay in demand,   or is it the amount of money we make or how popular our websites or  design blogs are? Or did I simply had too much caffeine and is over analyzing something that simply cannot be rationalized or summed up into a simple solution.   How do you define success and is it necessary that we measure it? I’d like to get your feedback.

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