Stress Management & My First Design Job


4 min read

I was very humbled to be approached by a very sweet girl named Tiffany Truong last week asking to interview me for a paper she's writing in school. She had a list of some really great questions about the stresses that come along with being a graphic designer, along with some questions about my personal story. I thought I'd share it with you guys in hopes that perhaps my insights could help someone else as well!

Thanks for the awesome questions, Tifanny! 

What initially got you interested in Graphic Design? 

Growing up, I had always been fascinated with playing around in Photoshop. Especially in high school! When I was in middle school I got assigned to design a brochure in one of the after school programs I was a part of and, I didn't know it then, but that was the first time I realized I really enjoyed graphic design. 

I loved playing around with designing layouts for blogs, and in high school I even designed a few flyers here and there for school events. So when it came time to choose something to go to college for, I chose to further explore my interest in graphic design. I knew there was only so much I could learn on my own by playing around in Photoshop, so studying it in college just seemed the like the logical choice. My love for it only grew from there. 

How/When did you get your first big break into the field? 

My first graphic design job (the job I currently have right now) pretty much happened on a whim. It was the summer of 2013 and I was looking for a part time job to support myself while I was in school. I applied for different jobs in the area, thinking I'd just work at a restaurant or a retail store. A tea/boba store called Jazen Tea had just recently opened up near my house so I decided to go online to apply for a job at the store. But when I went on their website, I saw there was an opening for a graphic design position. Given that I didn't really have anything to lose by giving it a shot, I applied for it. And four interviews later, I landed my first graphic design job and I've been there ever since. I'm now lead graphic designer on the marketing team, creative director, and head of social media marketing. This August I'll be celebrating my third year with the company. 

What were stressors (stressful things) that you encountered on the way to getting that big break?

The interview process was very thorough. It started off with a phone interview, and then a follow up interview where I was assigned a test assignment. This was my big chance to show them that I had what it took to give them quality work as their graphic designer. I slowly started to realize how badly I wanted to land this job, so the pressure to do well and the stress that came along with that was overwhelming. I submitted my project during the third interview, and to my disappointment, they weren't happy with what I came up with at all. Thankfully, the potential they saw in my portfolio was what granted me one last try to revise my design and show them what I got. So I gave it one last try and then they finally welcomed me to the team. I was so happy!! 

What are some daily stressful aspects of being a graphic designer? 

Meeting deadlines, dealing with last minute changes, and constant requests for revisions that come from clients. The most difficult challenge of all, however, is maintaining the discipline to fight creative blocks and give your best creative work, time and time again, even on days when you don't feel particularly "inspired" to do so. The challenge as a creative professional is that it's your job to be creative on demand. It's your job to know how to cultivate and stimulate your creative juices whenever you need to. The hardest thing I feel is that sometimes you're forced to submit something that may not be your best work, and compromises need to made in order to honor a deadline and maintain your professionalism. It's easy to be a perfectionist, but the biggest thing I've learned is that, while it may be stressful, it's better to get your work in on time rather than turning it in late in an effort to make it perfect. 

How do you deal with daily stressors? How about stressors that come along with a big project? 

I've learned that stress is one of the biggest things that can kill your creativity, so managing your stress is the key to being a successful creative professional. How do I do that? Journaling. Meditation. I go for walks, listen to music, and take breaks when needed. Anything I need to clear my mind and find my center. I also make sure that I get a good amount of sleep every night, because a well rested body and mind is the best way to keep your creative juices flowing and ensure that you're working at your best. 

When it comes to stress, especially the stress that comes along with a big project, the best thing I've learned is that it's all mind over matter. For me, stress comes from a deeply rooted desire to do my best and offer my client the best work that I can offer. It comes from a fear that I won't be able to deliver. So whenever I start to feel myself become overwhelmed with stress I simply take a break, give myself a breather and reassure myself that I'm capable, dedicated, and determined. I remind myself that all I should ask of myself is that I do my best with what I've got. So long as I know that I gave it my all, I can rest assured that I did my job. Reminding myself of that is what's gotten me through even the most daunting of projects.

What are ways that you guys deal with the stresses that come along with your jobs?