Great Designers Are Spawned From Mediocrity

Great Designers Are Spawned From Mediocrity

Some people are just geniuses when it comes to design. They’re the "Albert Einsteins" of the industry, often forcing you to *facepalm* for the insane brilliance of their concepts and techniques.

In fact, their artistic ability appears so naturally, as if they emerged from their mother’s womb with a graphics tablet already in hand.

Did I mention I hate (hate is such a strong word, more like envy) those people?

We All Start From the Bottom

No matter what our artistic skill level is at the time we become a designer, we all start at our lowest. And the only point at which we finally realize this is when time has passed and we see visible improvement.

As a digital artist, I often hear feedback from other artists who are insecure about their current skill level. And though as discouraging as it may initially be to push forward, I can assure you that the payoff is incredibly rewarding.

My Bout with Mediocrity

This was my first digital painting back in 2007. It’s okay, you can laugh it up.

My Bout with Mediocrity

I made the painting in Corel Paint Shop Pro with an obvious misunderstanding of building layers for volume and intensity. I can now look back on this first attempt and continue to learn from my mistakes, even today.

Digital paintings require time, patience and persistence to continue working on areas you just know aren’t right. At the time, I didn’t understand the significance of painting in layers, and frustrations peaked when it seemed impossible to master quickly.

But as an artist or designer, when you’ve discovered a style that piques your interest, you take on the inevitable journey to continuous growth. View my own progression as an artist from the age of 5 to 20 years old.

Reemerge Into the Design World as a Butterfly

The only way to unsheathe your potential for artistic genius is by embracing growth. Envelope yourself in a cocoon of knowledge and get ready for your talents to blossom.

The following are tips for bringing out the talent within you.

Stick to One Style

You don’t have to be a jack-of-all-trades — it’s exhausting.

Take the time to perfect the style and technique of your choice, leaving room for future branding potential.

Enroll in at Least One Design/Drawing Class

Designers all over the world have proven that it’s not necessary to have a degree in design to be successful.

However, whether you realize it or not, your work exhibits common design principles and understanding these principles is important to functional designs that make sense.

For years, I tried to read every drawing book I could find, but it wasn’t until a drawing professor showed me what I was doing wrong that I was able to jump over my plateau. Something inside me just "clicked".

Once you have your "aha" moment, feel free to scour the unlimited resources on and offline to further your wealth of knowledge.

Switch It Up!

Is the current style, technique, or medium you utilize beginning to bore you to death?

Well, try something new! It didn’t take long before I joined "the occult of Adobe," armed with a pen tablet in hand and ready to embark on the fantasies within my mind.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Take a sketchbook and draw what you see. Create sketched observations of light and shadow. Play with perspective until it starts playing with you — just practice! After all, a person doesn’t just wake up and become an Olympian gold medalist overnight.

Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labor

Two years after my original digital painting faux pas, I recreated an acrylic painting from my teen years in Photoshop.

This moment would soon become an enlightening point in my life where I finally realized my potential.

Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labor

And though I will forever consider myself as an artist on a never-ending path of knowledge and growth, it’s important to stop and embrace those powerful moments of reflection.

Go Ahead, Pat Yourself on the Back!

No need to be shy, take a moment to reflect upon your progress. Reward yourself with a simple acknowledgment of improving from where you once were.

No matter what the road is ahead of you, all that matters right now is this moment.

More Articles on Becoming a Great Designer

Check out these other articles on creativity to help you embrace growth.

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About the Author

Melody Nieves is a friendly, flirty, and eccentric digital artist and marketing enthusiast. Read her titillatingly intellectual posts on the influence of sex in marketing and design at SexiDesign. You can also find her rockin’ it out at her more personal blog, AWalkInMyShoes. Check her out on Twitter as well.

This was published on May 13, 2010


Its really great post!!! Thanks…

abhishek May 13 2010

Talent and hard word get appreciation everywhere.
I do now.

Dan Sunderland May 13 2010

Great inspiration, nice article. I’m from the self taught, self grown world too, so it’s nice to hear other’s experiences :-)

inspirationfeed May 13 2010

Nice article, very inspiring!

1000io May 13 2010

Melody in this portrait you are too pretty to be vectorized!

jeprie May 13 2010

Very nice progression. I’d love to see more of your work from time to time.

Jordan Walker May 13 2010

great article that shows where to draw inspiration from.

Jonathan B May 13 2010

Ty for sharing your experiences and progress :)

Greg Babula May 13 2010

Good read. I think every designer goes through this at one point or another

Melody May 13 2010

Thanks for the wonderful feedback everyone, I hope you’ve all taken the time out to appreciate your own progress today! =)

Scott Corgan May 13 2010

Whats awesome about mediocrity is that it’s NOT the best. Therefore, you can always get better. Always stay humble you will get better at what you do…

Chris May 13 2010

it took me years to get to what i consider good, and compared to some people across the different blogs that I follow I don’t hold a stick to their work. But…my first site was basically a few colors and links, i had no idea how to slice up a site in photoshop, no idea how to make valid mark up, no idea how to write css, but now i am considered at the top of my company when it comes to slicing sites and turning them into fully cross browser compatible XHTML/CSS. Great post, it should give hope for those designers that are trying to get started and don’t think they will ever make it.

Very inspirational post, but is it just me, or does anyone else think that at the tender age of 20, it might be a bit early in Melody’s career to have “realzied her potential”?
She can’t have supported herself by her art for more than a year or so so far…
Keep going, and keep growing Melody. I can’t wait to read the follow up post in 20 years. When you finally hit your stride.

Melody May 13 2010

@Scott, I certainly agree. I also believe that it’s great that every designer and artist builds their own style. That’s what’s so awesome about getting inspired by the community, seeing the different styles and perspectives of artists around the world, and what it took to get them there.

@Chris, It’s nice to hear the sense of pride in your own progression–that’s what I love to see. As you’ve experienced yourself, we all grow and strengthen our skill sets, leading to wondrous opportunities. =)

Ikram Hakimi May 14 2010

love the digital painting

Al Kamal Md. Razib May 14 2010

Great posting ! Thank you so much for sharing.

Divyang May 14 2010

And why should this apply to design only? This applies to any and every profession. Simply “Being Perfect”, isn’t it?


Melody May 14 2010

By potential I meant the fact that I’ve finally begun to understand my teachings and experiences. I don’t mention being at my best, in fact the opposite–that I’m continuing to grow.
I suppose our personal successes along the road reflect our general outlook at success.

Ajeet Gupta Jul 05 2011

Very Nice Post ! Thank you so much for sharing your Knoledge. Genius Work.

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