Improvements can always be made. Always. It is not possible to go through your career without having every single piece of work you do needing an improvement of some sort. The trick is knowing that the improvements need to be made.

Imagine sitting down at a table with a designer whose work you admire passionately. This person is a living-god in your world and their word is gospel.

Now imagine your sliding a piece of your work across the table.

Think about it for a moment. Really do it. I’ll wait, I’m in no rush.

So, how was it?

I hope for your sake it wasn’t terrifying. I hope you were proud and waiting to hear what advice they had to offer. I hope you were confident in the work you were showing them. I hope you believed in the work.

If this isn’t the case, then why not? It’s time to do something about it.

The work doesn’t have to be as good a theirs, it doesn’t have to be as clever as theirs – after all, isn’t this why you admire them so, because they’re able to think differently to you?

You should be confident in your work. You should be able to say “with this I give you the finest of my skills”. Hell, it doesn’t even need to be good. Just the best that you are capable of.

There is nothing stopping you from moving to the next level

Does the idea of showing your work to the person across the table fills your soul with fear? Many consider this lack of confidence a trait well worth dispensing with. I think the opposite. It is something that you can take amazing advantage of.

You are in an enviable position because you know your skills are lacking. You would be wise to realise that there is nothing stopping you from moving to the next level.

Knowing what you don’t know

What a great place it is to be! You know you aren’t where you’d like to be. You are smart enough to know that something is wrong. It is the uneducated who do not notice when something is amiss. But not you! No, no, no! You know improvements can be made, and made they shall be!

Should you consider your typography skills to be of poor quality, you know what to attack! Devour every book on typography that you can and practice what you learn, over and over and over. Should you know your images are poorly cropped, then look at the work that you admire and mimic it!

Imitate the reasons of others. Decide to understand why their ideas work. Discover why their 8/10pt text is more beautiful than your 8/10pt text. Why their tightly cropped imagery works better. Apply the same ideas to your work and see where it takes you! Don’t copy their work (you’d be the wrong kind of fool should you do so), but understand why it’s beautiful.

To break it down

If there is an aspect of your skillset that bothers you, then you should do everything you can to improve it.

  1. Decide upon the skill in your set that should be thrown to the hounds.
  2. Look at the work the admirable and see how they can do what you cannot.
  3. Understand why it works, read as much as you can on the topic. Lose hours in words.
  4. Let the hounds go hungry and apply this new knowledge! Practice it!
  5. Practice again. And again. Little more reading, then a little more practice.

Knowing where improvements need to be made is how you become great

There is no magic to getting better at any craft, other than knowing who you are and working damn hard. Knowing what skills you lack and where improvements need to be made is how you become great at what you do. Once you know these aspects of yourself, work to rectify them.

Work towards never uttering the words “I know my skills in this area could be improved.”

The trick answer? If you’re lucky, you’ll never, ever, be able to say it.