My mother-in-law, Penny, is a retired nurse. After retiring, she took up weaving. For those of you who don’t know, weaving takes up alot of space. There are baskets of wool everywhere. The loom itself is enormous. Penny’s loom is roughly as big as this one.
She used to have a dining room, now she has a looming room. The loom connects to a computer and has a special attachment that lifts and moves different parts so that she can make exotic patterns and fabrics.
When I am interviewing designers, I sometimes tell them about Penny. She doesn’t get paid to loom. On the contrary, she pays money for equipment and books and materials herslf. She pays to go to conferences. She is heavily involved in the weaving community. She reads books on weaving, she watches videos on weaving. She learned Photoshop just so she can design patterns better!
In short, Penny is obsessed with weaving. Imagine loving something so much that you PAY for the privilege of doing it. Imagine being that immersed in your craft.
Now think about your career. Are you putting in the same effort into your career as Penny is into her “hobby”? There are people I have worked with who clearly do. I have seen people in marketing, sales, programming, HR, support, and (of course) product design all obsess about their craft.
When I learned design was a thing (my blog post about that) I dove deep, I read every book I could find on the subject. I went to every conference. I answered questions on every forum. (I still have posts being read from 10 years ago on UX.stackexchange.com). I designed all of the time. I focused on being a master of my design tools. I tried every piece of software I could find to be inspired. I made up things to design. Obviously, I blogged about design pretty frequently as well.
My question to you (and to the young designers I am interviewing) is this: Why aren’t you as energetic and enthusiastic about design as Penny is about looming?
I can tell you this: When I find people who are that excited about design, I am going to pay them every dollar I can to join the team. They are worth it.