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  • EGO!!!

    I am sure I am older than most of you. My ego is bruised because I should be so far ahead in my career as a designer.

    I work with a creative director who is very controlling. She/he is talented, but very micro in her/his creative direction.
    I am going to be doing work soon with her and I just know I will not have any design creative input. And this is going to bother me.

    I should be a creative director by now! Where did I go wrong?

    Although she was very impressed with one of my illustration pieces, I now see that she replaced it with some stock photography. I am sure she made the right decision.

    So how do I make sure I learn as much as I can from her in her creative direction, yet not get demoralized when all my ideas are shot down?

    I really have to move ahead at this late stage of my life in the world of design. It's time to start kicking but!

  • #2
    I think you mean kicking butt.

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    • #3
      Of course it's good to stay hungry, recognize when you've fallen short of your own aspirations, and reach for something more, but don't forget that you aren't in control of everything. You are where you are...and who you are...as a result of everything in the past; that which you controlled and that which you didn't. Go ahead, kick butt, take risks, but don't fail to find the good right where you stand. I've seen many people over-focused ahead, and missing what's right alongside.
      I'd rather be killed than come to your party, but if you don't invite me, I'll kill myself.

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      • #4
        Sometimes you need to be a bit more diplomatic and plant seeds of idea's and or creativity. Trying to push the door from the other side will always end in tears. getting into a rut can be every designer's worst nightmare, you lose the ability to think creatively and see inspiration in others, instead of fighting the boss encourage them to open up. If they raise objections ask why and cite learning as the reason, this opens a dialogue and if handled right will invariably lead to them trusting your opinion and you being able to suggest creative avenues to explore.

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        • #5
          I am a bit confused in regards to your working relationship with this individual, as you mention working with her and then state working with her soon. Are you freelance? Is your role Graphic Designer?

          Is this Creative Director aware of your background? Accomplishments, work history, skills, etc.

          I ask about the background because sometimes co-workers and bosses aren't convinced (or assume) you don't know what your talking about, unless their aware of your experience on the subject.

          For example, we run a chat system on one of the websites I built for the company I work for. We had a meeting about how to better handle the chat and communicate with customers. I got the impression that my boss was brushing all my ideas aside because they assumed I had no experience on the subject. I reminded my boss that I worked in quality assurance for many years in a customer service department by saying "When I worked the several years in the QA department, we consistently saw that the customers wanted x, y z.." After I mentioned that, it was like a light switch and my boss wanted to hear all my thoughts about the chat.

          Sometimes it takes educating your superior about your strengths if they fail to notice them themselves.

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          • #6
            So how do I make sure I learn as much as I can from her in her creative direction, yet not get demoralized when all my ideas are shot down?
            Ask questions when you would do something differently:

            "Could you clarify the decision to do X? I'm trying to understand."

            Then after you are clear on X and if you still disagree follow up with something like:

            "Do you think [this] and [that] might work better if we do Y because of [this other thing]?"

            Notice how I teed up the suggestion by trying to get on the same page first. Then I proposed the suggestion in the form of an open ended question without basing it on personal opinion.

            As for not getting demoralized, when your ideas get shot down, you should be asking why, what they disagree with, what doesn't work, etc. Don't accept answers that don't help you get to the end goal. No iteration should be a wash, you should learn something from each one.
            Design is not decoration.

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            • #7
              Creative directing isn't everything. It definitely isn't what it use to be in the days of big ad agencies. There's more job security in learning the business from all angles. If you think you should be in a better position given your experience, you might be able to prove it in ways other than making the creative decisions for now.

              After my first 6 years in the biz, I had a job where my immediate supervisor was in the role of a creative director without the title, probably because the company was too small. Rather than compete with him, I decided to embrace my role as an overqualified production artist and let him make all the creative decisions. I figured I would just freelance on the side if I wanted to get more creative. Not having to worry about creative decisions on my full-time paying gig was actually a relief because I could work faster and leave the job at the office. It also gave me time to refine my technical skills. It felt like being a "graphic engineer."

              In the end, my decision and performance earned me a promotion to production manager, which meant that I became my immediate supervisor's peer in the hierarchy of that small company with the specific role of making the jobs run more efficiently and cost effectively. It led to the demise of the creative director role at the company. When it came time to downsize the company, the owner decided that a production manager who could outsource to subordinates was more valuable than a creative director with no subordinates.

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              • #8
                I've never been a creative director and won't be one either... but here are some general life observations I've acquired over the years:

                - Once you're out of school, age has little to do with anything. Thinking "I should be doing X by now" is a recipe for disappointment. Many a person has rushed into a bad situation for thinking that way.

                - Working with/for controlling people is pretty damn common. It's annoying, but it's common. One way to deal with that is to learn to pick your battles or you'll wear yourself out, so learn to let it go over, and over, and over... The posts above also have good suggestions for how to respond when you feel your ideas are being ignored.

                - Don't forget that work is work. If you want to do something to make you feel good about yourself, there are many things other than work. Get a hobby, take classes, meet new groups of people, get out of the house, spend free time on your own designs, etc etc etc. The side benefit of exposing yourself to lots of new things all the time and feeling satisfied with other parts of your life is that your creativity will grow, you'll become more confident, and setbacks at work won't be as consuming.

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