Photo of Tera in college with her favorite professor who inspired her to work the hardest.

Photo of Tera in college with her favorite professor who inspired her to work the hardest.

Hello! I’m Tera Smith, and I am so happy to be working with Chatterbox on some exciting graphic design projects for 2014.

When I was asked to write a bit about passion, I immediately thought about the advice I give when students, young designers, or people thinking about going into the design field ask me for insight. I always tell them, you’ve got to be the best. Simple, right? But not necessarily easy. I tell them you’ve got to work the hardest in school, volunteer for projects to get extra experience and meet people, and totally immerse yourself in design. Also, make sure it’s something you really want to do, not just something you want to do right now.

I remember my college experience – I was maybe a little too into my design classes! I skipped a lot of parties to work late at the computer lab, or make sure my mock ups were just right. But I never regretted it then, and I don’t now because I was among the best in my class, and it set me apart. I got a great job as soon as I graduated, and now I can work on the projects I choose and be home with my baby. I knew design was my only calling, and I can confidently say there is nothing else I’d rather do to make a living. I truly love it!

The justification for my extreme advice? There is a LOT of competition in the design field. For some reason, people see it as an easy job, just picking out colors and playing with pretty pictures all day. Or the fun job… are these people even really working? Looks like they just drink coffee and shop online for their next quirky pair of glasses. And Macs! They get to use Macs! I can do that, says everyone who isn’t really sure what they want to be when they grow up.

Not only that, but technology has made it a little too easy for anyone to call themselves a designer. Sure, anyone can whip up some fancy graphics in Power Point or slap together a ready made website, but unless there is real design understanding and a trained, discerning eye behind it, you risk damaging your brand and falling into an average set of peers. You owe it to yourself and the brand you’ve worked so hard to establish to hire a great, passionate designer who will breathe life into your brand and make it sing.

I saw a great quote the other day, “One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man who has it for 30 years who makes a success of his life.” Edward B. Butler had it right when he said that. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you love it enough and have enough passion to make it your life’s work.