One of the Singapore design circle’s most recognised personalities, Kelley Cheng shares her tips on how to succeed in the business without losing your passion.
Kelley Cheng Editor, Curator, Designer, Video Director, Educator, Entrepreneur
Being a designer is tough. If you are working for people and things get to be too much, you can just walk away. However, if you are running your own studio, no matter how difficult things get, you need to stay strong - find solutions, find compromise, find help, and most importantly, find friends - to ride through the dark times. Here’s advice for young designers wishing to start their own company:
ADOPT A MENTOR
It helps to get advice from someone with more experience. They may offer a solution that never even occurred to you. It also helps to have a second opinion when things get difficult.
HAVE A SUPPORT GROUP
I’m grateful that I have found true friends in my life; some I went to school with, and others I got to know through work. They always make me feel better when things get rough. We can bitch and laugh about it one drunken night, and then be more ready than ever to face the next day's challenges.
LEARN NOT TO TAKE CLIENTS’ COMMENTS PERSONALLY
This is easier said than done, but you must always remember this: never take clients’ comments as a personal attack.
PICK YOUR BATTLES
You will meet unreasonable and impossible clients along the way. When that happens, just try your best to finish the job quickly. No matter how well you do, they will will never be satisfied.
FIND WAYS TO RELAX
There will be extremely stressful or painful days. Be it taking a walk, going to the beach, or doing meditation or yoga, you need a distraction on such days.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Sometimes, clients can be unreasonable and ask for the impossible, or multiple rounds of changes.
DON’T STOP LEARNING
Success comes with hard work and practice. Don’t ever stop learning.
INSPIRATION COMES FROM EVERYWHERE
Go to the museum, go watch a dance, go for an afternoon walk, go for a morning coffee.
EAT WELL AND EXERCISE
I am guilty of not doing enough of this myself, but if you don’t have a healthy body, everything else doesn’t matter. Lastly, when things hit rock bottom, it can really only get better – provided you try to make it better. And stop waiting for that tall, dark, handsome stranger because he might not exist. Instead, make the most of your current situation because it might lead you to places you’d never imagined.
Being successful in the design business takes plenty of hard work, sweat and tears. As an industry veteran, Kelley makes it a point to ensure new designers are aware of what they are getting into.
Photo SARAH CHOO