The world is going through a hard time. People all over the world are getting laid off, and especially freelance designers are facing a lot of uncertainty.
Most of us are seeing our designs either rejected or postponed, and that can feel like a low blow. Rejected designs can lead to imposter syndrome – something that we do not need on top of everything else.
So today, we are going to deal with rejected designs in a positive and even lucrative way. Because we can all use a little inspiration.
How to deal with rejection and rejected designs
Having your designs rejected is never going to be easy. Even the most experienced designers don’t like to feel like they’ve missed the mark.
The key point is to put it into perspective. 9 out of 10 times is nothing personal against your work, it’s about taste or context.
Rather than being upset, it’s better to reflect and ask for feedback. Why is it not working? Can I improve upon it, or should I just start over?
You won’t see most people talk about their failures, but most likely, they failed a lot before getting where they are today. And since failing is part of our jobs as designers (and as human beings), let’s just try to shift our mentality, and deal with it in the best possible way.
3 Projects that celebrate rejected designs
I’m sure there are a lot more projects that share rejected designs, but I consider these three the most interesting to follow and to be inspired.
Described by the author as a Curated Graveyard of both good and bad ideas, this project shows how it’s possible to take unused pieces of design and turn them into something new.
It’s also a living proof that even the most experienced designers have rejected or unfinished pieces that never see the light of the day.
Just like the previous project, Nearly is a celebration of projects that never went public.
Two graphic design students decided to create this platform to support colleagues that might feel anxious when comparing their success to others. As such, Nearly acts as a statement. It shows that all creatives, especially those still in school, have to experiment a lot, fail a lot, and try again. All of that is normal and part of the process.
Rejected design Instagram account
In a less formal tone, this Instagram account focuses specifically on rejected logo designs.
The idea is simple, and everyone can participate. You just have to send the rejected and the chosen logo, the brief, and your name. After that, they will create a post with both concepts side by side and let the audience give their input.
Not surprisingly, the rejected designs are often as good or even better than the preferred concepts.
List of suggestions
If you’re not so sure about submitting your rejected work to someone’s project, there are a couple of other ideas that you can try and see what works best for you. Here’s a list of some suggestions.
1. Reuse in a similar context
Do you feel like your rejected concept is a good one that could be used in something else? Then don’t waste it! Save it for another time.
You might have a scenario where you can use the same idea and alter it to work to a different client. You won’t be using the same design exactly, you will be reusing something already good.
2. Create assets to build a passive income
This idea works better with customizable pieces, such as templates.
If you spend a lot of time creating those pieces just to have them rejected, or on the other hand, you started something promising but had to go for another direction.
Maybe now it’s a good time to revise those items and see if you can sell them in a market place, or better yet, start your own online shop.
3. Sell at a more affordable price
You know those projects you did just for practice but turned out pretty good? It usually happens a lot with logo concepts. Have you ever thought about selling them at a lower price than your usual feed?
I know this is not a good practice, and I don’t approve of designers that do this without considering all the implications.
What I’m defending with this idea is that some clients might not have the budget for a full branding package yet. In those cases, we can advise them into putting their money in one of our rejected ideas, while they can’t afford to pay us for the real deal. It will still be better than spending money on one of those logo generators that spit bad ideas constantly.
4. Help someone with fewer resources
This option stands on the other side of the situation. You might not feel good about charging money for something that was rejected by a previous client. That’s perfectly normal. But what about using it to help someone with no resources?
Look up some non-profit organizations that could use a designer. Most likely, you already have some concepts that can be adapted to their needs and make a significant impact.
5. Create a compendium of flops
So maybe none of the previous ideas are your cup of tea. Yet, I still think you should keep a record of misses.
If they’re bad ideas or executions, you can get back to them later and appreciate how you have evolved from that point on. If they are good, you can keep your personal collection of inspirational work. Instead of just going to Pinterest or the internet for research, you can also go for your private curated work.
6. Share on social media
A more obvious solution, but one that can give more visibility to your work process and help your online presence.
We always choose to show the finished product, but it’s great for other designers and future employees to have the chance to peak our brains and see our process. Even if your project isn’t finished, it can still give a good idea of your personal approach.
7. Create a project series
My last suggestion is to come up with your own project, where you showcase a series of rejected designs. Maybe they can be grouped by theme, type of work, or anything else that you find relevant and worth sharing.
Remember that everyone shares their success, but only a few are brave enough to share their failures.
What do you think of these suggestions? Have you tried any of them before?
Let us know how do you deal with rejected designs, what’s your usual process and what else will you try.