Everyone is affected by their level of self-confidence whether they are aware of it or not. Some people are naturally confident, whereas others tend to find being confident can be a struggle.
Being confident in one aspect of your life doesn't necessarily mean you are confident about everything in your life. Everyone has their strengths and likewise, their weakness's. In this post I want to talk about being a Digital Designer, working in the design industry and having self-confidence.
Wikipedia defines self-confidence as "having confidence in oneself".
Being in the design industry, where it is ever-evolving, competitive and heavily populated it is easy to get lost in the midst of the many designers. Every one of those designers has their own confidence level.
Belief and confidence are two separate entities although they can be entwined. As a designer myself I can honestly say that confidence is something I have gained over time. I think it's important to believe in yourself and your work as this will eventually build your confidence, as it did mine.
Stages of confidence
There are so many stages of a design project - from initial contact, contract signing, inspiration/moodboard creation, designing, presentation, right through to handover and invoicing. Some designers may find that project management of a project is when they are the most confident about their work, others, they may find talking to clients the easiest part.
Every designer is different, every client is different and every project is different. Given this, not one single designer will have been or will be in the same situation as another.
You could say there are just as many or levels of confidence in a designer as there are stages in a client project. The important thing is to remember what your strength is, that way, you can be confident in that and pay more attention to the area that needs it. Ultimately, in this era, your "weak spot" can be someone else's strength, so it's always worth considering asking your colleagues for help/advice, or even outsourcing the task. There is nothing wrong with that!
As a designer, another factor that plays a big part in self-confidence is experience. Taking on, or working on numerous client projects can help you build your portfolio and help you to build self-confidence, all at the same time as gaining valuable experience. Although this is debatable, I more often than not will take on a project no matter the size, as long as I have the time to make sure I can meet the deadline and deliver the required elements. No job is too small when you are building up your experience and confidence.
In this industry, there are a lot of talented individuals. They have their strengths and have clearly learnt how to "hone in" on that strength. As a Designer, it is only natural to compare your work to the work of your colleagues or others in the same field, but at the same time it is important to remind yourself that your strength may lie in a different area. Personally, my strength is understanding the client's design needs and being able to translate that vision into a working, functioning, usable design - whether that be a brand, logo, website or a simple flyer.
Self-taught V Formal education
It is strange to think that having a degree or a set qualification can instil confidence in some shape or form. Some people may also believe that it proves experience and ability. That's not necessarily true. In my opinion, self-taught designers are just as "qualified" as a designer that has had some form of formal education or training. Holding a degree can give you more confidence, however, nowadays there a plenty of designers that do not hold a degree and they should also be holding their heads up high as no-one really teach self-discipline, motivation and willingness to learn. Some employers even prefer designers that are self-taught as they are able to "think outside the box" and deliver even when it is not in their "remit".
When it comes down to your own experience, no-one can really speak on your behalf or understand your situation - unless they have been in your shoes. However, even then, everyone's actions are different. Your reaction to client critique may be different to my reaction. I have learnt and trained my mind into taking any critique positively, not matter how negatively it can be portrayed. It's important to try and keep it positive. I personally believe thinking and acting like this will help me become a better designer in the long run. It's a tough learning curve but one that is important.
Following someone on Twitter, Facebook, or Dribbble and looking up to such a person and keeping their design routine or portfolio in the forefront of your mind can build motivation, encouragement and self-confidence. Sounds silly but being able to see the kind of designer you want to become can help push you to work harder and deliver designs that even you didn't know you had inside you. I'm not talking imitation, but much rather inspiration. Being inspired by other designers can help build your confidence in yourself if you use it the right way!
Overall, as I mentioned at the start of this article, every designer is different. With confidence and strengths in different areas, it's easy to get flustered and think you can't do something, however, it's more important that you take the time to remember and reflect on what you can do and build your strength up. Over time and experience, your confidence will increase and you will be able to look back and think "I did it".