This week starts a series that I will be writing based on song lyrics. Some that you may be familiar with and some you may not. But music is a huge part of who I am as a person, as a creative, and as a designer. I refer back to specific songs or types of music when I am designing to help me with my process. I think there are a lot of different lyrics that can be applied to a creative mindset and I want to share a little bit of how I use them over the coming weeks.
This week I’ve been really thinking about the song “Iris” by one of my all time favorite bands, Goo Goo Dolls.
Specifically the lyrics “And I don’t want the world to see me, cause I don’t think that they’d understand. When everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am”. As creatives we need have this attitude too often.
We don’t want people to see imperfection in our work because we have to keep up with our own expectation of ourselves. The context of this song is about a relationship; and so the context of these lyrics applies to creatives and our relationship to others in regards to the things we create. We need to be confident and show ourselves and our work.
We don’t want to let people see the real us or our real work because we are afraid that it won’t be understood or that it won’t be appreciated.
Recently I have decided to really start practicing my hand lettering. I tend to be a perfectionist in my design work on all levels so showing “WIP” (work in progress) is not really a thing I like to do, because then people see the imperfections, and they won’t understand me or what I’m trying to do. But something that Sean Wes did awhile back really inspired me. He is always encouraging people to “iterate in public”, to make mistakes and have it be okay, because people will relate to you. It didn’t really stick with me until he posted a lettering piece he did with a spelling error, and he left it up! I would have taken it down, and done it over, and apologized or made a joke about needing a proofreader. But he left it up and showed me that he actually does what he says, he shows himself. He lets people see him, mistakes and all.
We need to not be afraid of letting the world see us, we have to be brave in our creative pursuits but also brave in our sharing of them. It is not easy to show rough sketches of logos, or practice lettering pieces with inconsistent lines and curves, because it might be inviting criticism. But in my recent experience, I think it actually will make you more confident if you can share your progress, share that you and your skills are a work in progress.
People will understand you and your creative journeys even better if you show yourself.
People appreciate transparency, they are just looking for someone else who shows themselves shamelessly in their work and makes mistakes just like they do. They want to follow people who have embraced their flaws and imperfect work; people who want to keep improving until they get to a beautiful finished product. Creatives are some of the most confident (and sometimes prideful) people I know, including myself; we are also the most self-conscious of the work that we create because it came from us-from inside of us-and that is very personal. They will understand us and our work so much better if we can show the sometimes broken and messed up steps along the way.
want to be the kind of creative who is confident in all aspects of my work, not just the polished final product. Don’t be afraid to let the world see you, they want to see you. There is a whole world of people just waiting to see your work. They will appreciate your bravery and be there to watch you as you make more creative, more innovative, and more amazing work. I hope you keep all these things in mind the next time you hear Johnny Rzeznik sing “Iris” and are encouraged. Design and music make a wonderful world. I hope you’ll join me here. Because design matters.