Saturday, February 27, 2010

Luck vs. Skill

I've been wanting to talk about the relationship between luck and skill for a very long time now. As it turns there is a very thin line between the two - and the relationship is probably completely different to what you'd expect.
A few weeks ago I've had long conversations with Jamie Ford about success (particularly from the sales point of view) - what defines it and what accounts for it. Jamie Ford is a business owner and professor who also happened to write a post for Business Blogs at the time I met him. He argues that optimism plays a large part. This is infact a very true point.
Richard Wiseman wrote an article about luck. According to Wiseman, luck is something you can master rather than a random occurence
of a fortunate event. Luck will hardly ever come out of nowhere, instead something must happen beforehand and that something is the potential which must be noticed and acted upon. Wiseman describes experiments set on people which show that the ones that consider themsleves lucky have it come their way rather often. These are the people who have the right mindset and tend to notice some aspects (which later lead them to getting 'lucky') more easily than the people that consider themselves unlucky. These aspects are what we call opportunities. In other words the ones that have all the luck stay more open. They possess the precise mindstate to recognize and seize an opportunity as soon as it arrives. Luck however is also heavily reliant on skill and for that matter effort as well. I always think that luck is more of a reward which comes as a result of hard work.
As I briefly mentioned in The Plan I'd like to bring up my point of view strictly from my own experiences. I am currently a university student studying design. I work part-time for an advertising agency as a graphic designer. When I talk about my job I often get told that I'm lucky. At first I used to dispute that but lately the more I think about luck the more I realize how plausible that statement may really be. The fundamental reason for my assumptions go back to how I found the job in the first place. But before I go into that and to really get the point across I must go back to about 4-5 months even prior to the job hunting. I was in the first year of my course back then and it all started with a client from Canada through oDesk (more about this here). What begun as a small illustration project turned very time and effort consuming due that very client. Specs would change in a blink of an eye and I had to start over a nearly finished design on two occasions. As the process went on, the deadline was getting closer and as a result I ended up working 18 hours straight. This happened twice. I've never pulled anything like that before and regardless, I still missed that deadline by 4 days. Two things resulted from this. A stunned client when he saw the amount of work I put into the illustrations in such a short period of time (I'll be putting these up on the portfolio once I finish updating the LoveColour Homepage in about 2-4 weeks time) and a very high rating from oDesk. So high infact that it scored me a 24th place amongst 40,000 others on the Best Designers of the Month list. This was the catalyst. It led me to applying to local jobs.

I just so happened to be in the right time at the right place when I applied for my current position. They called me in on the next day and I talked as much as I could about my previous experience and my capabilities. The trick is being confident. It's always about confidence. The oDesk rating was what gave me mine. Of course I mentioned it whenever I could but the real significance in this is that it all happened right at the time my workplace really needed someone. This is where the idea of luck came in. Perfect timing. This whole experience was my reward. Luck however can only take you this far. While it played a significant role in receiving the opportunity, the rest of it was all up to me. I was originally needed only for 30 days; I've been working there for almost 5 months now.
Success is heavily reliant on the amount of resources you have at your disposal and in most cases those can be earned with the amount work you put in. And I think this is the real key here. The more effort you put in the more opportunities you receive. Luck is more like a follow-up. In reality luck IS a skill - have a look at this article written by Richard Wiseman, the one about setting experiments on people to test how lucky they are.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ad of the week

This weeks ad of the week goes to a video that I can't actually post on this blog - you'll find out why as soon as you watch it!
It's quite unique of its kind. Brought to you Nintendo Wii - heres the Creative Ad Trailer for Warrior Land.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Plan

Today is the last day before going back to uni and I can honestly say that getting here wasn't simple. Waking up at 7.30 six days a week and working 40-50 hour weeks was just the beginning. As I reflect on the past few months of the summer holidays though, I can't help but to feel satisfied from what I did with my time. Over the holidays I received very sweet job opportunities ranging from both contract and freelance design work (which I'll talk about in more detail in the "Luck vs. Skill" blog post coming up before the end of this month).
And now that the holidays are almost over all the work is still there (obviously on a smaller scale) the one thing that changed is the added pressure from university. So I thought I'd dedicate this small post to discussing what will be happening to the schedule and availability but more importantly the plan for this Blog and the LoveColour Homepage.

First things first. LoveColour is due to be getting a makeover - hopefully completed by the end of March. (See its current state at I asked around for feedback and constructive criticism from amateurs, professionals and complete randoms. All feedback was recorded and yes, I will put up a separate "LoveColour Feedback" post with everything people have said about LoveColour. Of course all completely uncensored. This should be fun.

I will still try to update the blog as often as I can. I will continue to put up the Quote and the Ad of the Week and at least one weekly post.

Free stuff. Right now I'm focusing on Vector Graphics rather than working on internal application elements like brushes, gradients and so on.
The whole 'free giveaway' idea is always a juggernaut. It's quite time consuming and at this point I don't even know myself how often I'll be able to put these up. I can definitely say though that the next vector giveaway will be the 15-or-so Web 2.0 icons but in a completely different, wacky style for those who might fancy. There are more in planning. Also please feel free to comment for any special requests.

In the slightly longer run (3-4 months from now) I'm also planning to introduce brief but consistent content for the recent high school graduates interested in design. Currently on the top of the list are things like posting Photoshop and Illustrator Tutorials; discussing everything I wished I knew about the industry before finishing high school; and things I've done that were actually mistakes.

Let's hope this coming year of study won't be impossibly scary. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ad of the week

This week's top spot goes to Wilkinson's Razors.
They launched a whole campaign completed with a dedicated web-site, neat flash game and goodies. Site here.
This is a fun little commercial to let people know about the company and the product.
Check it out:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

LoveColour: 15 Free Social Networking Icons

These are especially useful when building out a website or a blog.

I've created 15 vector icons in Illustrator. Download here. Use them for anything you like: skins, applications or even on-screen designs - embedding these on web pages to increase social productivity is only the start!

Icons come in AI and EPS formats.

Monday, February 8, 2010

28 things I believe in.

This is a compilation of principles in life that I feel strongly about. Following them really help. Some I've learned out of my own experience, some - from others. Some are general and some are personal. Here they are:

1. Music heals.
2. Dishonesty, Stealth advertising and Undercover Campaigns backfire.
3. Karma exists and works in a completely logical way.
4. Graphic designers never sleep.
5. Happiness can come out from the simplest of things.
6. Tea.
7. Grabbing every opportunity.
8. Hyping yourself up works.
9. Understanding the future pays.
10. Working on a bed results in higher productivity than from behind the desk.
11. People are the key to opportunities.
12. Failure is a challenge.
13. Supplying with free advice.
14. Creative solutions win. Always.
15. If you are early you're on time. If you're on time you're late.
16. 80/20 principle.
17. 2012 London Olympics Logo may actually be embraced in 2012!
18. Indirect rewards. Pay-offs that are not immediate.
19. Luck is what you get for consistent effort.
20. Writing down your goals increase the chances of achieving them by 25%. (Although a completely made up number, I'd like to think it's not overly far off).
21. 6 hours of sleep is healthier than 8.
22. What I've done today could be done better tomorrow.
23. An open mind is the key to success.
24. Utilising a given resource. Admitting and moving on when it runs out.
25. Constantly finding ways to motivate yourself.
26. Laptops are saviors.
27. Twitter will change the world this coming decade.
28. Rationality is most important.

Thanks for reading. Please comment and let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Commercial of the week

Every week I will be hunting for the best of the best world-wide tv ads and posting them here the following monday.

Here's one for last week:

Free vector icons

Some cool icons I made in Illustrator over the past couple of days. Download the AI file containg all icons here, or click on the thumbnails to get the induvidual AI's.