O' Confidence, Where Art Thou?

Over the past four months, I have been working and striving to build up a freelance design business in the POP Signage and Display field, which is my primary area of expertise. However, I have also had feelers out there for regular full-time employment as well, just in case.

I’ve had a few projects come my way from some old contacts as well as new ones, and have been doing well enough to scrape by. In my “downtime” I’ve been busy reformatting and updating my portfolio and got it to a point that I was actually quite proud of.

But the last two months has been brutally dead in terms of activity which is stressful enough. What I wasn’t prepared for, was to hear via third party, that one of the handful of companies out there that I had contacted to look into full-time employment was no longer interested in considering me for a staff design position. Apparently the Creative Director didn’t think my work was very good.

That was about a week ago and my head has been spinning ever since.

Anybody else get kicked in the teeth like that? No offense to the new grads or anything, but I’m not some kid out of school. I’ve been a working professional for over ten years now and have a TON of industry experience to draw from. Logic tells me that I shouldn’t sweat it too much and that I have every reason to be confident and proud of my work. But now I’ve got that nagging thing in my brain that keeps whispering “Give it up. You aren’t really any good.”

Don’t know if anybody has been through this or not, but I feel like I’m in a tailspin right now.

Don’t know if anybody has been through this or not, but I feel like I’m in a tailspin right now.

Kick in full opposite rudder to stop the spin, and pull the stick all the way back into your gut to nose up.

“> Any truth is better than indefinite doubt> .” - > Arthur Conan Doyle

Remove the doubt; eliminate the “third person” (which amounts to hear say) and touch base with the CD. Either way, once you know the situation, first hand, the doubt will go away.

Ever heard of FUD?

Believe in yourself, and get back to promoting your work.

Believe in yourself, and get back to promoting your work.

Thats exactly what I’m doing (as best I can). That particular incident isn’t all by itself the reason for my… funk (for lack of a better word right now). It merely resurrected an old demon that I’ve battled with for as long as I can remember. I’m just curious if anybody else struggles with those self doubts about whether you can really cut it or not.

Just to clarify, I’m not looking for pity or fishing for any patronizing comments. I’m just wondering who else out there deals with this particular psychological nuisance on occasion.

I have always struggled with feelings that my work and designs are not good enough in comparison to others that i bench mark my self against, but this same feeling has also been the driving factor for me to constantly be working on improving my skill set and expanding my design thinking.

The trick is not to let it get you down or into a funk. As for the hearsay it goes to the old saying Opinions are like A$$holes… everyone has one. Maybe the director didn’t think highly of your work, and he is entitled to that opinion. You as a designer must not let his opinion (and keep in mind you have no idea what or how it was truly said so you may be creating your own negativity) derail you.

Chevis W.

I have had similar feelings. What I do when I feel like that is try to accomplish something new in my world of design. A lot of times it is redoing my portfolio. I consider my self weaker at graphics so I will setup a graphics project for myself. Accomplishing something new always seems to cure that funk for me.

I have experienced a similar thing in my workplace. Remember that everyone in the world from the guy who collects your bin to the CEO of a fortune 500 company has an ego, and a fragile one at that. I have found that a few simple things can change your fortunes. 1) Remember people’s names and say them when ever you greet them (2) Never criticise anyone. Nothing good will come of it for you (3) Try to find common ground with people.

I know this may be a side track, but if you expect the worst, life will deliver and your brain needs to think positively about your abilities for your abilities to improve.

The “third party” who told you “that one of the handful of companies out there that I had contacted to look into full-time employment was no longer interested in considering me for a staff design position” didn’t do you any favours by saying that. I know they might be your friend, but why did they tell you this? It’s a confidence shattering thing to say and in direct contradiction to point no. (2) in my list.

Criticism by a “friend” is still criticism. It doesn’t help confidence.

This is some good advice for the work place. It definitely keeps you on friendly and professional terms with your co-workers.

On an unrelated note, I am going to give you +7 internet points for the title of this thread. Well done!

@ NURB = As in journalism, the headline is everything. So I figured we might as well make it interesting by shamelessly stealing from the title of one of my favorite films… I think they actually took it from the man Homer himself.

@Azrehan = You have some excellent points there, but I should probably clarify the situation a little bit by stating that my friend was actively trying to help me out by lobbying this CD on my behalf. They already have a friendly working relationship, so we thought we could use that to gain the inside track. It wasn’t until I called him to ask how things were going and if he’d had a chance to speak to the guy that he just had to tell me what the deal was. If anything, I feel bad for my buddy being put in the crappy situation of having to break the bad news to a good friend.

I’m fighting through the shakiness as best I can, but it still comes back in small waves. The upshot now is that it’s only waves and not the crushing tsunami that it was when it first hit.

I just keep reminding myself that number one, I am never going to please everybody. This guy might just be instinctually opposed to my style. It happens. Not his fault, not my fault, it just is what it is.

The other thing I keep telling myself is that while I might not be the end-all be-all of POP Display design, I do have a lot under my belt that most designers don’t in that I’ve worn many hats in the business including Project Management, Estimating, Purchasing, Production and Installation, and even Sales. All of those things have been very valuable experiences for me and I believe will one day serve me well.

All of those things have been very valuable experiences for me and I believe will one day serve me well.

Which alludes to…

Believe in yourself, and get back to promoting your work.

And this is a thing that I find hard to do and that is incredibly important … play. Have some fun every day; “re-creation” is food for the soul, especially to a “creative” mind.

Oh boy, have I been there!! I think the thing to remember regarding to the comments possibly made by this particular Creative Director is that he may be biased towards a certain school, a certain CAD program or sketching style. Who knows, but the thing to remember is that your style and skills fit in with somebody. It’s not like your experience and skillset is worthless. It’s not, just have the find the right client. Ever notice how while eating at a buffet, you might find a particular dish that is awesome to you and you just can’t get enough? Well, the very same dish might not be so good for someone else. Doesn’t make it a bad dish, just different tastes.

I went through the exact same thing. A large bike company had me interview for basically the same position a number of times. Never got it, but I tried not to let it get me down. I just realized that my skills serve a better purpose towards helping other companies and clients. Or forced me to work on my own business. In the end, everything does happen for a reason, we just don’t see it sometimes.

Allow me to play Devil’s Advocate here.

Did you hear these negative comments directly from the source? Or through the grapevine?

What if this person never had anything bad to say about you at all, and in fact had good things to say. What if the person who gave you that message is threatened by your work and didn’t want you to be hired there so they tried to sabotage your efforts.

Just a thought…


wow, this is quite a timely thread for me as I’ve been going through a similar situation.

Firstly, I saw through Linkedin that my biggest client has connected with another designer and at the same time the work from him has tailed off considerably, so I can only assume he’s moved on. Bearing in mind I have worked with this guy for 3-4 years now and never a complaint… I even supported him at a meeting with a very large electronics firm recently (I pulled out a bunch of renderings that they were super impressed with).

Secondly, a company I do freelance work with was recently advertising for freelancers… nice. Never a complaint from them either.

Thirdly (I’ve been calling it my tri-fector of pain) a company I made contact with and a promise of something in the Fall stopped returning my calls and e-mails. (some good news, they finally replied but shunted me off until Dec/Jan)

So, yes, a deflated ego I am very aware off… it hurts. It’s like going out on a date with someone, having a great time, making plans to meet again and then they never get in touch again. It’s that awful feeling of questioning everything you’ve said and done and trying to see where you went wrong.

On top of all that, work in general has gone into free fall… to a point where I start having delusional world conspiracy against me thoughts :slight_smile:

The only way I’ve managed to keep my mind off it all is by developing some ideas I’ve had and trying to get some kind of prototype and ultimately manufacturing sorted… I have big dreams of retiring at 50 :slight_smile:

@ 6ix = I think you are very close to it. Looking back on everything (and finding out a bit more about this CD) he is coming from a professional background of working in the higher-end of the POP world. That means more budget to work with and allows for much cooler design. I myself have had most of my experience working in the low to mid-range of the industry which means smaller budgets and not as much room for the flashy stuff. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but if I try and put myself in the shoes of the CD, the mid range of portfolio stuff can easily come across as “weak” when compared to the more highly finished work that I would be accustomed to. I very strongly think that is where a large part of this is originating.

But also, it might just be that my “style” is just not what he digs on… no matter how high-end it may or may not be. It could be just that simple.

@ NURB = I appreciate the “devils advocate” approach, but it’s key to bear in mind that my “friend” isn’t just a contact or a former colleague. This is one of my BEST friends…period. We were even roomates for a time early on in our careers. So I don’t think for one second that the issue is with him. To your point about hearings directly versus through the grapevine, I agree. However it’s kind of hard to hear it directly if the guy doesn’t bother to respond or reply despite repeated attempts to contact.

All in all, I’m just chalking this whole thing up as a loss and am moving forward with other things. However I am also doing some proactive projects to build up a body of portfolio work that reflects a higher-end aesthetic so that I will hopefully not be blindsided like that again.

All in all, I’m just chalking this whole thing up as a loss …

Not a loss … you learned something really important here. We all did. Thanks for sharing.

This website provides so much support for the ID community… I wish it had been around for the first fifteen years of my career.

Now, take the rest of the day off; go have some fun. :wink:

@ loafer = sound slike you know exactly the feeling! It’s a crappy boat to be in, but at least we aren’t alone right?

@ Lmo = You are absolutely correct that it’s not a total loss, poor choice of words on my part. What I meant to convey was that I am chalking that particular company / opportunity as a lost cause…at least for the time being.

To your point about learning something, I frankly couldn’t agree more. This whole experience has essentially forced me to take a very serious (and hopefully objective) look at my career. I have gained some very valuable perspective which will only serve to make me stronger as I surge forward.

Anyway, like you recommend, time to go have some fun!

We all doubt ourselves. This comes with being a designer.

I deal with this at least once a year, and I think being in the pkg/pop side of ID makes it a bit harder. We tend to do. The less sexy side of ID. Our pay can sometimes be less and we are surrounded by people that constantly try to cut corners. We also tend to find that companies feel that our design work should be free as most of the time the supplier claims they have “designers”. Because of this it causes us to start to think that we are not as ood s others working for top consultants. The fact is that we are just as great as the others and to be honest they are very interested in what we so. Without us products don’t sale.

As far as being passed up for oppurtunies and getting bumbed…once again, we have all been there. I have been in the situation of getting very far down the interview process, being flown out to home office, doing great at the interview for them to tell me weeks later that the job has been eliminated. It hurts and it sucks! But you have to pick your head up and move one. Lew brings up good points and that is that you are in charge of how you feel and how yu handle things. If you want to be bumbed, then you will stay down and get no where. If you pick your head up and realize that you have lasted over ten years (which you ont ge if yu suck) for a reason, then you will move one and succeed.

Good luck!