In his expletive-laced SXSW Interactive session, "Screw F@$k No, Say S*!t Yeah," Michael Nieling, Creative Director at Ocupop, laid out some very straight forward guidelines for producing great work. First and foremost among these is "position yourself as an expert." 

Hustle graphic

Chris Walker, Ocupop

In this day and age everything has been amateurized. Buy a DSLR camera and you’re a “photographer”. Buy Adobe Illustrator and you’re “designer." So, it’s now more important than ever to prove to your clients that you are, in fact, an expert.

How do you do that? You provide them with solutions not options. Don’t give them want they want. Give them what they need. Neiling illustrated this point by saying, “Imagine you took your car to a mechanic and asked them what was wrong with it. And say he replied, ‘Well, your alternator is shot and it needs to be replaced.’ You wouldn’t then respond, ‘Forget that, just top off the tires with air’. It seems ludicrous in that context but as creative professionals we hear that kind of thing everyday.

Jobs quote

By building trust with clients and proving that we are that valued expert, we can produce the kind of work that makes us proud, while also being a solution to their problem. We need to stop talking about how design "looks" and start talking about how design works. We do that, and great work will follow.