Step Five: Go Ugly Early

by wek on June 26, 2012

I remember talking to a stationery designer I was mentoring sometime in the late winter or early spring of 2009. She was considering launching her line at the National Stationery Show that May, and I had been sharing my experience about what went in to creating a wholesale album and a wholesale stationery collection.

As designers, we all drag our feet at times, hem-hawing around about if all the details are just right. There will always be reasons swirling around in our heads, telling us why we shouldn’t do something. I remember telling her: just GO UGLY EARLY. In other words, quit waiting for the timing to be “just right”. Quit waiting for everything to be “perfect”. Get the broad brushstrokes onto the canvas, and launch.

It’s easier if you’re big picture and can avoid getting caught up in the details. But it’s always necessary for success.

Creativity is an iterative process. It happens best in an evolutionary form. When you add to creativity that we’re always growing personally and professionally, and then try to top it with all the fine-tuned details, and then wait around for the perfect launch moment, nothing would ever happen. The details, in a creative’s mind, will rarely be finalized, especially if you’re always on a pursuit for excellence.

People often ask me how I started a company, and the only simple answer I’ve ever come up with is, “I just did it.” I closed my eyes, held my breath, and jumped. I had a vision of where I wanted to go, and didn’t know how I was going to get there.

You need the vision more than you need the road map. The vision will give you the checklist as you go.

No worksheet today. Today is all about action. Get out there. Go ugly early.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashly June 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Good stuff! Another one of my favorites is “Be what brung ya to the bash…” Decidedly southern and grammatically incorrect, but it’s good advice.


Whitney June 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I love it!!


Elizabeth June 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Great, great post! I love it so much I’m going to share.
Thank you! I SO wish I was coming to the Stationery Academy. It’s one of my future goals.


Cory Miller June 28, 2012 at 2:16 am

Whitney, love this saying / wisdom / advice … too many designers I’ve worked with are wrapped up in or consumed by perfection. This will likely irritate artists, but it’s what most of us need to hear.

Like you say it’s about action … putting yourself and your work out there … and letting what happens happen. Thanks for this reminder!


Kimberly February 16, 2013 at 12:38 am

Ah! I should have gone deeper in the archive before tweeting you about this! This is so true, but hard to grasp! Im working on reminding my self of this ever day!


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