I’m Not a Great Designer, but I’m Great at Design.


I am a perfectionist in every sense of the word when it comes to anything I create or design. I am my own worst critic and I can see every flaw, every element that could have been better. Yet I will never achieve perfection. Not even close.

Over the years I have learned that there is a point when an artist must embrace the moment when his or her work is good enough. There is that time when your beloved creation must be released into the world, ready or not, and that you accept that your work will be appreciated by someone. And if for some reason that it isn’t appreciated, you have to accept that as well. If you can’t do this, you will always be a hostage to your craft and your perfectionism. It’s only when you release your artwork into the world that you can feel totally free.

I Am Not a Great Designer.

I’ve never thought of myself as one of the greatest designers on the planet. Sometimes I don’t even think I’m good enough to call myself a designer. This is supported by the evidence that I’ve never been listed on any important websites about my work or been recognized in the WordPress community for my design skills. I’ve never been interviewed by a prestigious design magazine. And the last awards I’ve won were back in the 5th grade when I won First Place and Special Mention for my custom sketch of a MAC truck. If you look at this from a worldly perspective of required accomplishments, I am a huge failure. But I know this is not entirely true.

I’ve Done Some Great Designs.

If I look back on my career, I’ve created and designed for some of the most awesome brands and people on the planet. HTC, Arnold Palmer, Green Bay Packers, Michael Hyatt, WebDesign.com, iThemes, BMW, NASCAR, Team Penske, Emerson Fittipaldi, Nike Golf, and the top NCAA football teams are all clients I’ve done work for. I created the number one selling apparel product in the nation in 1994-95 for the world famous Eskimo Joes. Not so bad, right?

Then there are the thousands of awesome business and church clients I’ve had the honor to work over 20 years as well. Clients who have voted on my designs with their hard earned dollars. My designs may not be award winning projects, but they have always achieved the desired results that my clients expected and then some. I’ve helped these businesses and churches to be successful through my work and that is very rewarding. Plus, I’ve made an incredible living as a designer and have done very well  in the world of WordPress web design – despite not knowing how to code or design in a web browser. Yet I see people with insanely more talent than me who can’t make a living.

Good Enough IS Great.

All this being said isn’t for my ego or self puffery. I’m not seeking approval for fishing for compliments. I am sharing my story because I know there are other designers out there who are struggling with two things right now:

  1. Believing their work isn’t great enough to send out into the world.
  2. Believing they aren’t doing anything great because they haven’t been defined as great.

First it’s important to realize that as creative people, our work will never be at the place we want it to be. We will always see our flaws and imperfections. There will always be a little more we can do to make our masterpiece better. We have to let it go! Most people will never see your work as you see it. They will never see the mistakes or the imperfections you see. There is a point when you must recognize that your work as a designer or artist is good enough … and then you must send it into the world. Good enough is actually great because you’ve released something into the wild.

Second we have to understand that our greatness is not defined by how the world defines it. I believe that we all want to be recognized for our work and many of us would love nothing more than to achieve that rockstar status we’ve dreamed about all of our lives. Honestly I’ve been there too, even recently. But in the grand scheme of things, fame and recognition isn’t all that important. I think that success and greatness is having the opportunity to work from home, doing something you love to do, and providing a nice living for your family. Besides, if you’re making a living from your skills that is truly success.

I’ve been extremely blessed to live the life I have and need to remind myself that recognition and awards aren’t as nice as being available to my family and friends as I want or as needed.

I just wanted to share with you today to encourage you.

If you don’t believe your work is great, don’t worry about it. Please focus on good enough, it’s truly liberating. Go ahead and launch those ideas and projects into the wild. If you are struggling because you feel you haven’t achieved success as the world defines it, don’t be discouraged! You may not be seen as one of the greats in the world, but I bet you are still doing something great. And that is what matters!

Be confident my friends and go out and do great things!

  • http://gravatar.com/metalbagg metalbagg

    This might be one of the best posts I’ve read in a while, . . . and i read a lot!

    • http://www.jamesdalman.com James Dalman

      Hey man, thanks! That means a lot to me.