Success and failure. . .
So I had a few small broadcast sets at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas over the weekend. Small things, but fun and quick. Sometimes it's refreshing to crank something out quickly and just see how a client reacts. Strangely enough the process was actually very nice on these; even though it was condensed to just a few days between design, revisions, drafting, and construction. (It always helps to have a good client and a good producer who circulate things to people efficiently, and get answers/responses returned with speed.)
But, upon reviewing the photos and video floating out there in the sub-ether, I'm not sure if I consider the overall project a success or a failure. Or maybe it's a combination of both? Or possibly something else? Here's the dilemma, and it's one I've always encountered as a designer: The client is very happy. The process is smooth and efficient. The project is profitable. Various parties are supplied with the product they need to go off and do their various jobs. Yet I look at photos and videos and all I can see are the mistakes; the little details that are missing, the things that were damaged at load-in, the things that were built or assembled incorrectly, the areas that might have been lit better, etc. etc.
So who is right and who is wrong? Is the project a success or a failure? Or are those questions even answerable? Yes, as a designer it's my job to continually push myself and evaluate everything that I produce. One of the best ways to correct mistakes or to evolve as a designer is through honest self-evaluation. So when do I get to celebrate and declare something a victory? Where is that line, that grey area, between success and failure?
An interesting note is that I used to deal with this question quite a bit with my graduate students. Good students can be the most severe self-evaluators, in both productive and counter-productive ways. I used to try and help those students to develop a healthy amount of self-evaluation coupled with a balanced amount of self-praise. It's a lot easier to do for someone else. And perhaps that's the answer? Self-evaluation isn't entirely achieved in a bubble. It takes input from others before you can successfully parse through that input and come to your own personal conclusions.
Well one thing is for certain, there are few concrete truths when it comes to these things. I suppose another lesson is to learn to love the process, and not let it deter you from jumping into the fray once again.