Portrait No. 21

Chris Do

Teacher. designer, entrepreneur, cocky and wise. INSPIRING.

Sunday, January 26, 2020
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He‘s cocky, overly self-confident and a bit too arrogant for my taste. I don’t like Chris Do. But I love him.

It was around the time when the idea of portrait52 emerged that I discovered The Futur’s videos on YouTube. The feeling of discontent about my professional freelancing career drove to to spending a lot of time with entertainment content on different streaming platforms. I used to place the videos on a scale of 1 to 10 according to the degree of satisfaction I was feeling while watching them. Cooking shows ranged high the scale. Good cooks are much like a good designers. They choose their ingredients for a dish with care and consideration, use hierarchy for focus, making one element the star. The other ingredients are there to balance out the dish, making it harmonious and pleasing for both the eyes and the stomach.

The best part about being a designer is the ability to earn a living while doing something you truly love and would probably do for free. That is happiness.” (Chris Do)

It took me quite a few cooking shows to understand that I wasn’t making any progress. In the kitchen, maybe. I experimented a lot and improved a few dishes I used to make all the time. If you ask my wife, she might say otherwise. But my professional life was still at an impasse. I started looking for solutions to a problem I couldn’t quite grasp. I knew design was my thing, I had always loved it and I wanted to go on being a designer. But I was executing much more than I was actually designing. Clients trusted their subjective personal taste more than my objective expertise. And they weren’t paying me well enough for the compromises I was making on my work.

“The worst part [about being a designer] is that if you don’t learn the language of business, you may limit your growth and be relegated to the role of an ‘order taker’.” (Chris Do)

I don’t know how I came across the first Chris Do video, but when I heard the man talk, I burst into tears. Not literally. From my professional eyes. It wasn’t an emotional moment, it was more like an intellectual revelation. All this time I was trying to understand what the problem was, thinking I had stupid or cheap clients, which was mostly the case, or that I wasn’t good enough, which also was the case sometimes. But in fact I was just really bad at the business part of my freelancing. I had never learned the language, and I couldn’t really communicate.

“Everyone has an opinion. Everyone will tell you [..] what they think of you, your work, your motivation, etc… The question is, why do you care? Why do you give credence to the opinion of others? How does it help you?” (Chris Do)

So I started learning the language. I’m still learning it. If I went to school and got grades on my progress, I’d probably be a precarious B or a solid C right now. It’s not the vocabulary or the syntax, I’ve actually got pretty good at the theoretical part. Putting all of it into practice is what’s causing me headaches. Asking for my value’s worth, keeping my objectivity focused during a project, judging other people’s opinions right. Allowing critique, learning from it, while trusting my instincts and my expertise completely. And putting my ego aside, because ego has no place in the business of design.

To all those considering a freelancing or entrepreneurial career in the creative business: next time you turn on YouTube, search for “the futur” instead of “do farts burn” or “cute cats videos” (not judging here), click that subscribe button and start watching. And implementing, and watching, and implementing again. Then let us know of your progress.