Get Knotty Blog

Becoming a Good Designer: The Secret Ingredient is Failure

Becoming a Good Designer: The Secret Ingredient is Failure

Can I tell y’all a secret? There isn’t a single one of my designs that doesn’t have a pile of messy swatches and not-quite-right pieces behind it.

Sometimes I get lucky and this process goes smoothly, easily progressing from a rough draft to a final design with only some minor tweaking along the way.  But most of the time, it's a lot messier than that.  Piles of half finished snippets with trailing ends are the unseen monument behind my supposed "genius" as a designer.

It’s easy to see an artist constantly posting gorgeous finished products, and feel like everything must just magically translate from our brains out of our hands and into our medium with no effort. But the reality is a lot messier, and often full of a lot more fails than we let on. But the secret is that we keep going. And the more we fail, the more chances we have of getting it right.

Failure is often seen as an ugly word.  A waste.  But the reality is that failure teaches us more than successes ever will.  To be a good designer is to know what works and what doesn't, and why.  And no matter how good you get at something, there will always be failures.  There is no magic level of mastery where we stop failing. 

Failure is not a step back, it's a step forward.  And the goal is just to keep moving. So keep failing until you succeed.  And then fail some more. Fail with confidence, with wild abandon, and know that failure does not mean you are a bad artist, it actually means you're a good one.