In art school I learned what I still consider to be a very valuable lesson: know when to stop. I can be an indecisive person and it was extremely difficult for me to stop finicking with my drawings. I learned by practice that sometimes the more I mess with something, the worse it becomes. Every stroke of my charcoal was permanent and I either liked it or I didn't. And if I didn't, I had to keep working it until I liked it again. This allowed for some serendipity but it can also be frustrating. As I continued to do more work I learned to make informed and conscious decisions as I developed a piece. It was a hard process for me at first. I can be a bit of a control freak (maybe more than I'd like to admit) and the thought of making permanent marks without knowing if I would be happy with the result scared the shit out of me. One of my art professors told me in first year, "Don't be afraid to make that mark, don't hesitate. Have conviction in your strokes". It was valuable advice and one that I still try to practice. Art school taught me to not be afraid to put pencil (or charcoal) to paper, that things are never perfect at first and you keep working at it until your gut tells you it's done.
So experience taught me when to stop. The more drawings I did the more I trusted my gut in knowing that was the last stroke, any more and it would be ruined for me. I knew when I was happy with a piece and that if I kept working on it I wouldn't be any happier, in fact I might just be miserable. It's that intuition and awareness that I still take with me in my life and in my work.
Then I started designing for the web.
The web changes, it's constantly evolving and design for the web can change and most probably will change at some point in time. That's true of anything in technology really. It's very different from working with your hands on something tangible like a drawing or a painting. On the web, what's done is done - for now.
For some of us, it's why we like the web. The web itself is changing and a website can change as you or your company evolves. It's exciting but also a bit uncomfortable. I like the freedom of changing things, improving things, but like I said I can be indecisive. And the web enables the indecisive part of me. I think that experience, age and wisdom should make you more decisive and give you more conviction and confidence in yourself and your decisions. So I don't like to humor my indecision. I respect decisiveness because it is so difficult for me. But the web gives me the freedom to change. I can change my mind every year or two. Heck I can redesign my website every month if I wanted to. Of course, it's easy to do this when it's your own personal project. Working on client work is different. You have a set amount of time to finish something and you do your best work in the time you're given and that's that. Sometimes the best indication of done is when your time is up. That I find comforting. So I try to keep my indecision in check and I think that's part of being a designer. You have difficult decisions to make and you have to outweigh the different paths to take and make the most informed decisions with the time you're given and that's it.
Don't get me wrong, I like designing for the web and I've learned to adapt myself to the flow of the web. We're all learning to embrace the changing nature of the web. We've moved beyond the strict guidelines in print design that made it's way to the web. Responsive design reminds us that the web is dynamic and fluid. Agile development tells us to release now and change often. Apps are updated all the time. The websites you've come to love: the facebooks, the twitters, are constantly being redesigned and re-imagined. New apps crop up that make the previous ones from six months ago feel dated. Apps constantly need updating. Devices are updated every year or so. We learn from our audience and we change things. But change can be good or it can be bad. We need to change for the better and that takes a lot of discipline. We need to ask ourselves, will this redesign help our audience and our business? And what helps our business may not help our audience, and vice versa.
As a professional in this field, I'm excited by this evolution. I find it empowering and challenging. As a creative person I find it both freeing and restricting. As a consumer and as a person, I'm exhausted by all this change.
Sometimes I just want something to be done, finished, in all it's shiny glory as a remnant of that particular point in time, never to be touched again.
Sometimes it would be nice to create something and be done.