Being a designer is like being in the SAS


Ok not really. But yeah, kind of. Most of us are not being flown off to work covert missions in far flung corners of the globe. And while paper cuts are nasty, they can’t compare. However, all of us could learn from the skills that being in an elite force requires. There are some shared qualities that show being a designer is like being in the SAS. I was reading an article about the SAS training regime (which for the life of me I can’t find to reference) where three core attributes were discussed and it struck me how much these applied to the world of creativity.

Ready recruits?



Insanely obvious, but so important and often forgotten. Lack of preparation leads to rushed thinking which leads to bad execution of ideas. Half baked concepts. Filler. I mentioned in a previous post about the frustration when something isn’t as good as you wanted it to be. Often it’s because it wasn’t done properly and preparation is essential to this.

Even with a small budget or tight deadline there’s always time to follow your process, slow down, and think. Make sure you read the brief thoroughly and know what is expected.

Clients, I’m looking at you for this as well. Giving a good brief is essential for us to deliver exactly what you need. And as a creative, if anything is uncertain or unclear, get clarification.



It’s tough sometimes. Not eating cold dead rat while being shot at tough but hard going. There is a lot that we can learn about ourselves from going outside of our comfort zone once in a while. Pushing yourself creatively often leads to greater things. There are always new skills to learn and ways we can expand into the creative unknown. We’ve all said yes to that job then wondered how the hell we’ll go about delivering it. It’s invigorating isn’t it?

There are plenty of other opportunities for our pulses to get racing, being up against a tight deadline and getting it finished on time, thinking on our feet during those ‘difficult’ client meetings and giving the right answer. After 15 years I’m still petrified to open a delivery of fresh print.



This is my favourite one, so please excuse me for banging on about this one a bit more than the others.

I don’t think you can deny that being modest is an attractive quality. And there’s a fine line between being confident and being arrogant. Whether in business or personal relationships, try not to brag or boast. In my opinion it’s crass to only talk about your own accomplishments.

The difficulty is that we do need to promote ourselves and that does come with an element of ‘bigging yourself up’. I know that many people find this extremely difficult but you are not alone. For the most part you can let your talent and success speak for itself. And if you’re lucky, others will do it for you.

Which leads me to the ways you can spread that love. Give credit where it’s due. From a design point of view I’ve often created something as part of a team, without talented developers my website designs would be no more than pretty pictures. If you’ve worked with someone on a project then name them, let others know how much they contributed to its success. Name your influences and highlight other people’s work you enjoy. Better still,  get involved in a community and spread your knowledge and inspiration.

I hope you enjoyed this post, I apologise for the image that accompanies it.

%d bloggers like this: