If You Feel Like A 'Fraud' As A Designer, Read This

If You Feel Like A 'Fraud' As A Designer, Read This

"I’m a designer.”

However simple that short, three word sentence may appear, for years I couldn't say it - because I didn't believe it.

I felt like I was a fake, a fraud, 'playing' at the idea while I watched other 'real' designers work on amazing projects as they talked in their 'I'm-a-real-designer lingo'.


Hex codes.

Hero images.

Say what??

I felt because I didn't always know what they were talking about, because I didn't know all the 'proper' words for stuff, I wasn't a 'proper' designer. I allowed myself to feel insignificant. I'd always keep quiet, not wanting to get 'found out' - then hit Google up the first chance I got.

The weird thing though, I actually DID know what it was, or how to do the thing they were talking about more often than not. I just didn't know the ‘right’ words or terms.

At 17 I went spent two years at Graphic Design school (in the years when you designed on paper, with pens and ink and stuff, I never once touched a MacBook while there...), it made for an awesome social life.

Yet when I went on to Uni, I quit. Twice.

You see I love learning new things yet formal education bores the pants off of me - I wanna learn what I wanna learn (and know), not what I'm told I 'should'. My head has got enough going on without cramming it full of stuff I don't have interest or use for in the future.

It has come with it's downside like not (always) knowing the fancy industry names for stuff, or owning a signed piece of paper to say I'm 'qualified'.

Yet, I'm a Designer.

(See how much easier that is for me to say now? Ahhhhh...)

Design and creativity runs through my veins. It's in everything I do and touch. It's the eyes I see the world through.

I don’t do it because I have to, I do it because I can’t NOT do it.

It doesn't stop at the end of the day when I close the MacBook on a (paying) clients project, because then you'll find me doing it for fun - grabbing sheets of paper to practice writing pages and pages of script, or edit the photos I took at the weekend.

All just for me. In my time. Sans money. All for the simple straight up pleasure of creating something new and beautiful to look at in the world.

A couple years ago looked at a number of designers and photographers I deeply admired, both in terms of work and 'success' within their industries. And you know what I found?

All bar one was also self taught.

It made something 'click'.

Maybe this feeling like a fraud thing I'd been carrying around, the one that had me doubt myself, my style, my abilities… Maybe it was all just in my head.

Maybe no one else around me even cared.

Sure I don't have a formal stamped sheet of paper, or know all of the lingo and yet I also no longer cared about that either.

Neither of those outweigh 20,000+ hours I've spent learning, practicing, implementing my skills, or the truck load of unwavering passion in my tum.

Not a single one of my clients to date has given a damn about that non existent piece of paper either - and they really don't care for the techie 'lingo'.

They've hired me for my style. My vibe. The energy and passion for what I do that bursts (beautifully) all over their websites and books and packaging.

So am I - and are you - a 'fraud' for not having that stamped and signed piece of paper?

Maybe you'll have a different opinion, but these days I'm comfortably saying 'no', while holding my (design) head high.

Ruth Ridgeway

Hey, I’m Ruth

I teach designers how to start, grow and simplify their design business.