Whether you are a student designer just learning graphic design, a graphic designer looking for design employment or if you have just set up as a freelance designer you may experience design rejections at one time or the other.

For those new designers just looking for their first job in the design industry I should imagine its a pretty tough time at the moment, it has always been difficult to get that first elusive design job but during a recession it will be even worse.

I thought I would share some of my previous design rejections just to show that you should not listen to bad comments people make about you or your design work. If it is constructive work on it, but there will always be another person who thinks that same design is great, that’s the subjective nature of graphic design.

I may have shared a few of these in the past but here goes –

At School

The lows

I was always good at art at school and after A levels my art teacher told me I would easily get into a course at my local college to do a One Year Foundation Course in Art. So I went to the interview, and they said my work was not diverse and developed enough, so they would only offer me a 2 year General Art and Design Course. I was gutted – at 18 years old an extra year of study is a long time, I had deliberately stayed on and done my A Levels in order to go on to that course.

The highs

So I did the 2 year General Art and Design course and while I was there realised I was as good as a lot of the people on the Foundation Course. I got offered both of my first choices for a Degree or HND in graphic design after this course too.

Back in Design College

The lows

It was getting near the end of my graphic design college course so I started aplying for jobs. I think it was actually one of my tutors that set me up on an interview with a graphic design company in Leicester. So I got to the interview they looked through my college portfolio and pretty much told me I was rubbish and  – they really did say this – If I was lucky I might get a job in a print company! (no offence to anyone that does – back then design in print companies was pretty basic). So much for encouragement.

The highs

Many year later I went to another design company in Leicester. It was going really well and they were interested, then they asked if I could leave my portfolio to show one of the other directors who wasn’t there. I asked if I could see their work – the work wasn’t good so I had to tell them that I didn’t want to leave my portfolio with them as I didn’t think the job was suitable.

Applying for My First Graphic Design Job

The lows

I remember creating a bizarre pop up curriculum vitae of my head to try and get my self noticed (not sure if it would have been for the right reasons 🙂 ), they took a long time to put together too. I must have sent out about 100 of them and got loads of rejection letters back and only 1 or 2 interviews where I didn’t get the job. There were very few design jobs about at the time especially for new designers.

The highs

Getting my first job a position in the college marketing department designing the marketing materials. I remember getting told they chose me as I was so enthusiastic. So remember it’s not just your work that counts but how you come across as a person and if you will fit in with the team. Once you have your first job its much easier to move on to a better one once you have some real design work experience.

Working

The lows

Getting a harsh telling off from a previous design boss years ago for how I had managed a project. My problem being with it that the account manager was so lazy that he would hand the job over in a complete mess that was impossible to work out and then he would not want to get involved. I put in writing to him what I needed from the account handler to be able to handle the job efficiently.

The highs

My old boss having to handle the same job when I was on holiday and realising and admitting what a complete shambles it was.

The lows

One of my clients a design and print company (that I do some work for) referred a client to me for a logo design. I thought it was a little strange as they would normally take it and give me the work through them (ie taking their cut). I met with client, who hadn’t filled in my logo design questionnaire (she told me she hadn’t had time) so I tried to go through it with her. What she was saying seemed to go against what she was showing me – ie. he scribble of one possible angle she was thinking of. Alarm bells were ringing but I thought I would give it a go. I did the initial concepts and she didn’t like any of them, to her credit she offered to pay for the work to date but I declined, suggesting she should think more about what she wanted before hiring another designer.

The highs

Ok, well its not quite a high, but whenever you do a job like that and the cleint doesn’t like it you wonder, did I do a bad job. My mind was put at ease when I went out for a drink with one of the girls who worked for the company who referred her to me. She said oh, that womans a complete nighmare she is never happy with anything, we have done work for her in the past. Since then I have also had great comments from other clients about my logo designs –

Cut and pasted from a client email

“Wow!  I’m seriously impressed! They look fantastic – exactly what I hoped for and better than what I expected.”

I have had some knock backs but now make a good living working from home as a freelance designer wth nearly 20 years (yikes) experience behind me – so what did those people know anyway! Don’t take the critisism to heart, work on anything you feel is right about these peoples opinions and ignore the others.

What have been your highs and lows in your graphic design career?