Becky Murphy
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
Comparison... a classic. I worked at a design firm with these guys who were really good. The ‘problem’ is that they were good at the stuff I wasn’t wired to do. I was frustrated I wasn’t as talented as them and that I wasn’t getting the kind of projects they were.
Fast forward, and eventually I started REALLY embracing my goofy illustrative style, I started getting comfortable in my own drawing skin. Our boss started giving me the kind of projects that allowed me to draw monsters and make weird lettering. It wasn’t slick branding, but it was exactly what made my work come alive. We all excelled designing the way we were created to create. That shift helped me celebrate their successes (and not see them as failures).
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
Discount the importance of personality. Don’t make vague, generic, trendy projects because A) that’s what you see in the real world and B) that’s what your peers are creating. Make something funny. Make something meaningful. Make something that you have so much fun working on, you’d do it all over again if you had the chance (by the way, this is good criteria for what to put in your portfolio).
You don’t have to go overboard with having a big personality (it can be taken too far), but don’t take yourself too seriously either. Also, don’t write your bio/about page in 3rd person. We know you’re the one writing. And don’t just tell us you love typography. YAWN. But if I find out you’re from Iowa and you’re hilarious and you love to bake? Then I don’t really care what’s on your about page because I think you’re perfect.
Employers want somebody teachable and personable. Be a humble and be cool and you’ll be fine.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
There’s so much! But if we all stay curious, we’ll eventually figure it out. We’re all just learning as we go.
1. I wish I wasn’t afraid to ask questions. I used to have somewhat of a fixed mindset, so I was really worried that if I admitted I didn’t know (as you do when you ask a question), I’d be found out. I was so afraid of not looking smart. When you’re young, you’re expected  not to know. The older I get the more I know I don’t know, so I’m more likely to ask questions without thinking twice about it. It’s ironic how that works.
2. I wish I knew that I already had a lot of value. I was a good designer! But I compared myself to my best classmates and the best designers from the past 100 years. This is just silly! If I hadn’t done that, I would have applied for the biggest and best jobs. I’m beyond thankful for how things turned out, but I don’t want anyone else to sell themselves short. That’s not doing anyone a favor.
I want to tell students that while they might kind of feel like they’re the best they’ll ever be, they’re not. They’re just the best they’ve ever been. There’s a big difference. We’re not defined by our design skills anyway, but especially  not right out of college. You grow so much in these few years outside of school.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
I’ve learned, and am still working on, respecting my boundaries. Boundaries with time and money. This takes a lot of prioritizing and discernment (see the book Essentialism  for help with this).
I generally start my day with yoga. Once I’m at my desk, I do a specific rotation throughout the day: 90 minutes of laser focus, then break for 30. The break includes: reading, tidying, walking, calling friends back, Instagramming, etc.
I’ve been using the bullet journal religiously for my to-do list. It’s the best analog system I’ve ever used.
Other than that, I think Benjamin Franklin said it best. “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
A must read for anyone pricing their own work: Breaking the Time Barrier  by Mike McDerment and Donald Cowper. It’s a quick, free, fun and easy read on realizing how much value we have as designers and how and why we should price to show our worth.
Also, The Five-Minute Journal. It’s not a read (because it’s a journal) and it’s not just for designers. It’s for any human. But it has been transforming for me and I recommend that everybody own a copy.
Becky answered the questions on January 29, 2015.
The answers were published on January 30, 2015.