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Evaluating your own work

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While I was in college I took a ton of art classes. One of my favorite courses was my oil painting course. The amount of technical skill I developed was incredible. It helped me to refocus how I approach art and my craft. One of the most valuable things I learned, and took away with me to translate to other creative endeavors is the ability to step back and evaluate my own work.

I believe I have good taste. I am constantly inspired by the world around me. Everything from restaurant menus, billboards, music, nature and the threading on my clothes are all things that never go unnoticed. I strive daily to be intentional about what I put in my life and how I live my life. This is something that is influenced by viewing the world around me and surrounding myself with things that are designed well. It creates for good living.

The toughest thing for any designer is the ability to take their eye for good taste, quality, and creativity and pour that back into one’s own work. How do we translate this to our work? It starts with an objective and unbiased approach.

That creative spark that first fueled your inspiration has seeded motivation within yourself. Great. Now get over yourself. Those sparks of inspiration do not make you special, they make you driven, motivated, and constantly pursuing your vocation. Once the magic and pixie dust wears off, you became faced with the daunting task of spending hours and hours behind a screen, canvas, or sketchbook tirelessly trying to create something that will hold up to the things that inspire you daily.

You have to separate the creativity from the technical work.

Stepping back from your work means to get outside of yourself and switch your train of thought. Shift gears and become focused on the technical parts of your work. All of those things you learned or unlearned in art school. All of those mistakes you’ve made before. All of the things you’ve done right in the past. Are you translating those lessons learned technically into what you are working on right now?

Ask yourself objective questions. Talk to yourself. It’s okay, no one will hear you. Is the execution of your piece meeting the original intended goal? Is the execution up to the quality and standards you would expect from yourself?

Is it good enough? Yes? Then no, it’s not done. Good enough is not good enough. Strive to make every piece great.

Revisit, revise and take your time. Get away from your work once in a while. Not all work comes from these brilliant stokes of magic and inspiration. Its hard work. Its getting into the trenches and putting in the hours. Focus on switching from creative and technical throughout your process and watch the quality of your work drastically improve.