The Unicorn Designer.

As the owner of a creative agency for 10 years now, I’ve worked with a number of creative professionals ranging in skills and proficiencies. Like many in my position, the ideal candidate is someone who can jump into a wide range of projects with varied deliverables and knock it out of the park. Logo design and branding? Check. Web and UX design? Check. Print and layout. Check. If only it were so simple.

Not only is finding a “unicorn designer” like this nearly impossible, but it’s also an unrealistic expectation to think someone can, or will want to, do it all.

Instead of looking for the perfect person. I look for future potential. And I hope, that those interested in Proof, look for their future potential as well.

Jason Fried is quoted as saying:

“One of the biggest challenges when hiring someone is envisioning the person they’ll become. There’s a lot of future perfect people. People who have the potential to become the perfect person in the perfect role if just given the right opportunity.”

And that’s exactly the sentiment I share. I believe that skills can always be learned and acquired with experience and training, but the way you think – creatively and strategically, is the most important, and most difficult to measure. A lot of future perfect people have been stuck in mediocre positions. They simply haven’t had the opportunity to do their best work.

For me, during the hiring process, I assign a small design project to the final group of candidates. Most recently, I’ve been asking that candidates take a (real) brand in the world, redesign their logo, and come up with a new layout and design for the homepage of their website. While I’m interested in seeing the final product of their work, the way they package and organize design files, etc., what I’m really looking for is a summary of their process. How did they arrive at the final product? What inspired them as they got started? What does their research process look like? How did they translate rough concepts into final designs?

A thoughtful creative process is solid gold to a team like ours at Proof. It’s an incredibly valuable asset and through the way we work, our culture supports thoughtful (not rushed) design. We want to be a branding firm that digs deeper into the process than your traditional design agency.

Thoughtfulness absolutely leads to a better final product, and even if the skills don’t match up just yet with the approach, I’ve witnessed first-hand how quickly creatives acquire new skills when they’re surrounded by talented colleagues.

Whether you’re reading this as someone responsible for hiring within your company, as a creative professional looking for a great place to work, or a potential client looking for a firm to partner with, understand that this mythical “unicorn designer” may not exist, but if the thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and strategic approach is there, the sky’s the limit.

As a team, we push ourselves, and our clients, to always consider the “why” behind the “what”. That starts from the moment you put together your own portfolio, to the moment you present your design to a client. Me? I’m just happy to ride alongside a team of unicorns here at Proof. Our team is truly special, nay, majestic.

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