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A designer writing about design and maybe some other things. Senior Growth Designer at Parabol

When we focus only on the superstars, we lose sight of the people who tie all the superstars together

Photo: 10'000 Hours/Getty Images

When I was a teenager, I thought I wasn’t good at anything. I was, in my own eyes, mediocre at everything, never the standout or the superstar. As I have navigated my career, I have come to realize that being a generalist, being good at a broad spectrum of subjects, is a superpower, not a weakness. I am constantly curious and learning new things, which sets me up to be able to lead people from different backgrounds because I have experienced their backgrounds, too.

We’re not superstars — and that’s okay

This might seem like an oxymoron, but the very fact that we generalists aren’t superstars is…

Surviving as a Solo Designer

Any designer who spends time reading articles on Medium will have read all about design teams in San Francisco with design leaders, creative directors, and multiple designers. Design is an important, valuable, and significant part of their businesses. It’s exciting to see what these teams are capable of and to learn about how they work — but it also makes me incredibly jealous. As the only designer on my team, most of the topics and process discussed in those articles simply aren’t a reality for me. I need to get creative about how I collect design feedback and grow.


Emotion in Design

Designers frequently get described as the people who make things pretty. It isn’t exactly flattering and it definitely doesn’t capture the full picture of what a designer does. It’s difficult not to bristle at the over-simplified description of our role. When our job is described this way we tend to translate it to “someone else does the thinking and the designer adds fluff,” implying that design doesn’t require any expertise. …

It’s true, being a designer is pretty cool. We get to create amazing things, and many of us can quickly switch between mediums and techniques — print, digital, illustration, motion, etc. — but sometimes we feel pressure for the creator to be just as cool. You know, to be the coffee-loving charismatic hipster that goes to meetups every other day, blogs regularly and is known throughout their local design community.

I’m sure some people like that do exist, but this is for all the designers who feel like they miss the mark on how cool they’re supposed to be.

My awkwardness is unbearable.


The re-emergence of hand lettering has taken over Instagram and has made it a sought-after skill again. The vast array of different styles allow the technique to be incredibly versatile and a worthwhile design consideration. Popping up in an enormous amount of logos (Pinterest, Montage) and page headings (The Boxtrolls, World Baking Day) hand lettering has proven its relevance to digital mediums.

Although it often appears simple, hand lettering can be a complex endeavour, even more so when applying it to responsive web design. …

Alicia Cressall

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