Recently, I left from under my rock and ventured out to check out the local talent at an AIGA awards ceremony. Some renowned studios showed up, concluding the night by reaping armfuls worth of awards to no one’s actual surprise. Even then, I managed to rave to one of the creative directors about their recent work for a major franchise, highlighting how much it inspired me as a fresh designer to the scene and anything else you’d think someone akin to a Belieber would say (minus the tear jerking). He was incredibly flattered, but seeing as though I’m still young in my design career, he imparted me with some wisdom: “While it’s great doing work for big companies because the budgets rock, it’s when you do work for the little guy that’s the most challenging – and also the most rewarding.”
When you’re about to graduate the design program, all you hear is gossip about your classmates getting hired by famous studios as if that’s the envy of every designer out there – those studios and their huge budgets and absolute freedom of creative expression. They are paid to do adventurous projects because their clients’ brands allow them to – anything to make them stand out even more than they already do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking on this fact at all, but I think it’s equally as fun and even more gratifying to do projects for a less glamorous but nascent client that hasn’t even made an impact on the world yet – a company that needs your help to make an impression, because they’ve put their heart and soul into their company as much as you do in your work.
A client that needs you? Perhaps I’m being presumptuous in saying that, but when you design for a client who’s in their fresh beginnings, you are involved in a crucial phase of their development. This isn’t just another superfluous advertising campaign for a company that already has a well-established brand, because something more is at stake here: your client’s dream. They have a vision and you are tasked to pave way for their company and put them on the map. The challenges that come with working with smaller clients – from smaller budgets to unique target audiences – presents constraints like no other, but from within those constraints comes the chance for you, your work, and their company to really shine. They do need you!
And all of this for that moment when your client becomes the next Apple/Google/Facebook/etc. and you think, "Holy smokes, I helped them get this far — that's my design!" And that’s why I root for the little guy!