Some of the first things I learned about design are: that you can’t get attached to your designs, and you can’t have thin skin or big egos when dealing with your supervisors and clients. When starting out, I would argue this is just as important as learning the fundamentals of design.
Last year, one of my design teachers at school fit into the category of the ‘thin skin/big ego’ designer (I understand preferring a particular style, but as a teacher, you need to encourage students to explore and experiment). We would often butt heads with each other over style, when to use certain software, and the practicality of the exercises he would have us do (a ‘cute and fun’ exercise isn’t helping me with my portfolio). It was painfully obvious he was uncomfortable with criticism and stylistic differences.
This is a very collaborative field, you need to learn how to work with others and value their input and criticism. I’ve had a marketing director walk up to my desk, look at my work, and say it’s awful and to start over. The end result? A better, well-designed piece.
Successful design is more than conception and execution; you need the personality. And the experts agree; ego is the worst thing in the world.
When starting out, there are a few traits you need develop as a designer.
You’re always learning. Don’t be a know it all. If you think you’re the smartest man in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Stay teachable and learn to accept criticism. This is to help you and make you better.
Listen to what the client needs. You may love the design you’ve made, but if it doesn’t work for the client, it needs to change. Being open to outside influence and ideas can help create a better solution.
Have Thick Skin
This is probably one of the hardest things to learn as a young designer or student. You need to be ready to defend your work (justify all aspects of the design from type to color to composition). Also, you could spend hours designing something you love, but the client might hate it, and you have to start from scratch. Get used to it and be okay with it.
There’s a lot to learn when studying design, just remember to never stop learning and be open to what other’s have to stay.