Craft doesn’t mean giving up who you are

Developing a craft doesn’t mean giving up who you are.

It doesn’t mean losing every single minute of the day to your work.

What a miserable way to spend what little hours we have.

That’s how I feel, at least.

When I talk about getting up early or staying up late, it’s because I think this is what you need to do if your options are few.

If you don’t get what you want out of your day job, if you don’t get the hours you need to develop your craft at work, and developing your craft means something to you, then steal the time from wherever you possibly can.

But not at the expense of crafting who you are as a person.

Don’t dismiss every book in favour of only the most technical and confusing and detail-packed ones related to your industry.

I did that for a while and burnt out quickly – reading fiction has proven far more motivating and, often, invigorating and educational, than many of the design books I’ve read.

Not to mention that stepping away from reading about your craft keeps you energised enough to want to return to it daily.

If the only time you have, without major sacrifice and pain, is your hours at work, then that’s the time you spend honing your craft. Spend them mindfully, think about the processes you go through, how you can improve, where you go wrong.

And if where you spend your hours everyday doesn’t afford you the opportunity to develop your craft, and developing your craft means the world to you, then get another job. If that isn’t an option, then yes, perhaps get up earlier, stay up later.

Craft, to me, is about enhancing the life you already have, making you a more professional designer, one who takes pride in their work and doesn’t see their past jobs as things to slot into a folio, but as steps towards a joyfully unfindable goal. It’s about providing value for our visitors, our customers, our audience, and especially ourselves.

There’s no point in sacrificing who you are at the expense of becoming someone you wouldn’t want to be. Not even in the pursuit of craftsmanship.