It’s easy to fall into the steady stream of designing what you know, but every know and then something pulls you out of your comfort zone and you have to decide whether to go with it or not.

A few weeks ago I was called by a client and asked if I could do some room sketches with furniture in them (based on some plan views). “Have you got any examples of the sort of thing they want I asked,” and they promptly emailed some sketches through. Ok so they were fairly loose, nothing too polished, so I called the client back. “Sure I can do that” my mouth was saying, while my brain was saying don’t be an idiot you haven’t done anything like this since for years.

After the phone call the realisation set in – they want me to draw something FREEHAND! NOT ON THE COMPUTER! Now while I am a firm believer in sketching, but these are just for my benefit – to organise my thoughts and occasionally I share them with you guys, or show a design savvy client, just to talk through a potential idea. This was going to be the finished article, I will scan in the finished result and apply colours in illustrator or photoshop, but my sketch will be there seen in all its glory (or otherwise). I even started to think about building it in Strata 3D first (back to the comfort zone) and using that to base my sketch on, in a kind of back to front way. From the moment I said yes I have had the vague niggle “can I do this,” in the back of my mind but it has also given me a bit of a buzz, a bit of a challenge.

I have the same problem with web design. So far I have always played it safe and when asked to design a website – declined. Yes, I could sub it out, or have a go myself but I always have that fear of the unknown.

When is it the right time for a novice in any area to accept that first job?

I think if you work with other people it is far easier as there is usually likely to be someone there you can learn from, but when you work for yourself (alone) it is more of a dilemma.

It’s not always the best decision to accept the challenge, I would rather decline a job than do it badly, but sometimes you have to give it a go in order to progress and learn. Its so easy to become complacent doing the same work day in a day out within your comfort zone. Every know and then you need that extra design challenge.

How to you handle those design jobs which are outside your comfort zone, do you take them and do your best to achieve the required result or do you play it safe and stick to what you do best?