Posted 07.13.2015 by Josh Krakauer

Design Process: The Struggle is Real

Sometimes the pressure to make something good can be paralyzing.

I sit at my desk and stare at my screen. My headphones are clamped tightly over my ears, and I can hear the soothing sounds of 90’s grunge rock blaring in my ears. (We can talk about my taste in music another time.) I keep repeating to myself, ‘it’s okay to make bad art’, over and over.

This goes against my design soul, and makes the perfectionist in me extremely uneasy. But I start to sketch, and things start to flow. Line by line, I finally get something down on the paper and eventually onto the computer.

Below is a quick video of a very speedy design process.

As a graphic designer it may seem counterproductive to tell yourself to make bad art. But sometimes the pressure to make something good can be paralyzing.

Neil Gaiman once said, “Make good art…Things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.”

The internal pressure to make something extraordinary can stop even the most experienced designer in their tracks. The design process is not easy; it isn’t something that comes quickly. It comes with mistakes, and do-overs, and lots of command z-ing.

Austin Kleon had a great response to Gaiman’s speech, “When the going gets rough, make bad art, too. ‘Good’ can be a stifling word, a word that makes you hesitate and stare at a blank page and second-guess yourself and throw stuff in the trash. What’s important is to get your hands moving and let the images come. Whether it’s good or bad is beside the point. Make art.”

I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to always make great art, but we should minimize the fear of creating bad art. We all have our own process and our own fears, but like Kleon says:

Get your hands moving and let the images come…Make art.

Talya Miller

Talya likes to design and write a variety of things. She’s occasionally awkward and always interneting. She has a soft spot for nerdy nonprofits and well designed books.

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