Letting go of old work
The longer I spend in the design industry, obviously the more projects I put behind me (which is a good thing). However, as any good designer or developer, I put a lot of passion in my work and become very connected to my projects. But, often times, when a project is done, the designer moves on and things are left in the hands of someone else.
Whenever I’ve moved on from a job, it’s been very difficult to let go. I periodically (and sometimes more often then periodically), monitor the web sites I worked on or created, just to see how things are progressing. Recently, I’ve found some things not necessarily progressing poorly, but definitely not progressing in the direction I would have moved them. And moreso, not in the direction I had imagined I started them down.
The most common advice (particularly from people not in the industry), is that it’s not my problem anymore. Or that there’s nothing I can do about it. And in a way, this is very true advice. However, it doesn’t relieve the disappointment I feel by seeing something I’ve worked hard at, and put a lot of time (years, in some cases) and effort into creating. I know I can’t be bitter, especially since I moved on from these jobs by my own choice. Some of these were full-time jobs that it was just time for me to move on. Others were freelance projects that I had circumstances that were out of my control. But in any case, it’s still difficult to let go from old work.
I suppose every former client has their own good reasoning for taking the project in the direction they are, and again, I can’t say that they are doing anything “wrong” (well, except in one or two cases), but still, not easy. Today, I came across an interesting read on webworkerdaily.com: “When Clients Mess Things Up“. It offered a few tips (particularly for freelance or consultancy jobs) on what do to when clients want to push things on their own.
The full list is interesting, but I would have to say #1 seems like the best, yet also the hardest to follow pice of advice: “Take out the emotion”. This doesn’t mean to take out the emotion when you are working on the project, this means that once the project is done, and your piece of the puzzle is complete, move on and don’t let yourself fret over what happens next. Some of the other advice is to be proactive at being involved on the project in the future (which is also good advice), but sometimes that just isn’t a possibility, so you need to just let it go.
While it’s hard to let go, it can’t stop me from creating new projects, and from putting in the same time and passion into them. It just means that I have to deliver the best that I can deliver, and what happens after that is what will happen. Hard as it may be, sometimes it’s just the best thing for the designer to do.