6 Ways to Be a Happy Design in a Creative Agency

Being a designer in a creative agency can sometimes try your patience and on the odd occasion, it can push you to the brink of insanity. I understand. The exhaustive workload, repetitive projects and annoying demands from clients to make it “pop” or “make the logo bigger” slowly chips away at your serenity and can ultimately lead to burnout. Here are 6 tips that can help you be more “zen” and less “This is making me crazy!”.

1. Focus on Being Fast and Efficient

When working for a design agency you won’t always be super stoked on all your projects and over time even some of the interesting projects can become mundane. One way to keep interested and engaged in each project is to create a challenge or somewhat of a game for yourself around being fast and efficient. At the end of the day your value is not only your creative ideas but how good you are at executing them in a timely manner. The faster you get the more value you create – and hey if you get really fast then you might be able to ask for a raise. Just Sayin’.

2. Take Satisfaction in the Details

The old adage is that “the love is in the details” so take satisfaction in the little details that you have added that maybe go unnoticed. Often little design decisions or elements won’t be what gets noticed or commented on, but take pride in the small details that you know make the difference. See how many little details you can include that only you notice.

3. Have a Professional Opinion, Not a Position

With your extensive education and experience, it’s hard to hear and accept clients uneducated advice on your designs. But, what is important to keep in mind is that there are design rules and then there are design choices (not to mention that all rules are made to be broken). You want to ensure that you are standing up for good design, without being too attached to the items that are a personal choice. This will help you keep your projects from looking like a design nightmare, while also being able to implement ideas and feedback from the client.

4. Give Thanks

Although working for an agency can drive you nuts sometimes and on those really tough days, your mind can wander off to the dreamland of working for yourself and doing what YOU want. But, there are lots of great things about working for an agency. Usually, when working for an agency designers don’t have to worry about sales, account management, payment collection and all the other aspects that it takes to attract, deliver and make money on doing design work. So while working on a mundane project you can be thankful that you don’t have to collect the money, pay the overhead, or be the account manager that has to deal with that difficult client.

5. Rotate Projects

This one can be tricky, especially when you’re knee deep in deadlines but it’s good if you production studio has a process to switch up designers on repetitive or similar projects. Not only does it allow the designers to have some fun by working on different projects, but it also is a good idea for smooth operations as allows all designers on the team to pick up a project and run with it, which is a good thing if someone leaves unexpectedly or is sick. It is a little bit of a time investment to get other designers up to speed but in the long term it will produce more creative results and allow your studio to run smoothly no matter what happens.

6. Take on Side Projects

Accept that working for an agency will probably not always allow you fully express your creativity. However, you can easily take on side projects of your choice that will allow you the creative freedom you desire or that you feel very strongly about. And this is a great way to make some extra money while getting your creative groove on, but you may also want to consider volunteering for a cause that is important to you. You might find that volunteer work satisfies that creative itch that your paid work doesn’t always fulfill.

What are some other things you do to keep happy working in a design firm?

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Cheryl Chung

Cheryl Chung

UX / Interaction Architect

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