2017 & Design: Comfortably Uncomfortable?

It's 2017! A fresh 365 days to get up on the 'good foot'. 

Whether it's beginning a diet that has been on hold for a while (January 2016 to be exact), starting that new practice, or creating a new mindset and perspective on things, new years acts as a channel to turn ideas and commitments into actions, but a challenge that most find difficult is understanding that It all starts with the first steps. Just like a baby or a rehab patient, making that first step to get moving is always a doozy. 

New years always bring about a fresh mindset on things for people across the globe. I've never been the advocate of making resolution promises, but seeing the optimism across social media from people around the globe who have had mixed feelings on the circumstances that 2016 brought has struck a nerve of inspiration. Now, I'm not gonna lie. I am not a fan of writing. Wait, I take that back. I actually enjoy writing, but it's always that first step of getting myself into the writing 'mode' that makes it tough. As a designer, I've been advised to start blogging and it has, so far, been a challenge to express myself through writing. After hearing a couple of friends and aquaintences state their ambition to write, I said "why not?". 

We can all admit, 2016 has been a crazy year. No need to go into detail, but it has definitely been out of the norm for most. Although, there has been one thing that has caught my attention more than anything this past year. It was 'getting yourself out of your comfort zone'. This has had it's fair share of rotation in my thoughts and it has made me ask "What is my comfort zone?" 

For some (or most), being in a comfort zone has become a negative notation, and I agree, but if that be the case, how does one define their comfort zone and get out of it? I know for me it was starting this blog. It was uncomfortable starting, but eventually I found comfort to finish; thus inspiring the title. See what I did there? I’m kidding, but getting out of comforts come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe it's relocating. Comfort zones can be, and mostly are, labeled as a locations. I believe most millenials tend to find that breaking their comfort zone means finding yourself living somewhere other than their home, hometown, or even close to their home and hometown. Others may see breaking it by changing their everyday routine by adding extra time to read and workout while others break it by switching a job or career. Whatever the case may be, if it's out of the norm, it's out of your comfort zone. Sounds like 2016, huh? 

As a graphic designer and others like myself, I am presented with new challenges on the daily. Trying to figure how to bring ideas to life visually, not only for myself, but in a way that can be received by a certain audience, and I believe this constantly pulls me out of my comfort zone, but to what extent? Am I expanding my style enough to complete these task in a unique way, or am I making it a routine to finish these projects the same way like filing papers (No disrespect to those who do file papers. Y’all the truth!), and how will this effect my career in the long haul?

Designers, in my opinion, should constantly be looking for ways to break their comfort zone when being approached for new and exciting projects. This doesn’t mean get up and move to California because you got a logo job for your local ice cream shop, but maybe it might be a time reconsider some factors: How can you make this logo differently from what you’ve done in the past if you’ve had a client like this before (unless you have a niche)? Should I charge more? If so, how? How can I get more clients? How do I get more people to know what I do? And the list goes on and on. You may ask “How can a designer be more uncomfortable if they’re never comfortable?”  You probably didn’t ask that but just in case you did, here’s a thought. Like before, it’s easy for designers to fall into a comfort zone in the ways they approach design task. For me, it was easy to turn to illustrator and trace something and throw some color on it and Boom! You got yourself a nice piece of design. After a while, I started to look back at my projects and noticed that there wasn’t anything different I could explain about each one. Nothing was challenging or different about the way the problem was solved. The same went for my career starting off. I was receiving the same type of projects/clients that didn’t help the growth. I considered that my comfort zone and the ‘first steps’ were a challenge in breaking out of that. After trial and error, I’ve began to see shifts in the way my career was growing and still growing.

There are many ways to get uncomfortable in your design career that I believe will make young (or old), creative minds prosper in 2017, but here are few I would like to share that helped and is still helping me:

  1. Understand/find your creative voice.

 Is there something unique about your design style? If so, how can you make it stronger? Most experienced designers tend to showcase their creative voice and tend to work with clients who wants their style. It is also good to have a strong portfolio of different style and utilize platforms like Instagram and Dribbble to show a niche will help your potential clients understand what's your “thing”.


  1. Find projects that will push you. 


    I’m guilty of dodging certain projects cause I felt I wasn’t ready for it, but I encourage to take them on. Hell, mess up so you can learn from them, or surround yourself by people who can help you take on the project and provide feedback to make you think. Utilizing this practice will not only grow you as a designer, but it will build up the courage to laugh and conquer the Goliath sized projects.


SN: Make sure you charge accordingly :)


  1. Switch up your design space.


    Location will sooner or later play a factor in your creative thinking. Don’t be confined by the boarders of surroundings. A change location can rework the wires in your brain in the ways that it processes problems. Being around new people and new areas can help trigger ideas for new projects and solutions for old ones. Location can also be a plus for opportunity. If you find yourself struggling for work, maybe research a market in a different area will help create more opportunities to stamp your creative name. Even just taking a trip every now and then will help you break the ‘comfort zone’ of thinking. In addition, social media has made it very feasible to work outside the perimeters of your location, but I will save that topic for another blog post.  


In order for anything of these to help, work your ass off!


I hope this was helpful and inspired my fellow creative minds in the upcoming year, but I want to hear what you guys have to say about. What are some of your of comfort zones? How do you plan on getting out of them? What were some of the first steps you’ve made?



Have a project idea or just want to talk? Let’s chat! Visit Hankdesigns.com or email me at Hank@hankdesigns.com