About ideas that fall by the wayside.
Peer Hempel and Finn Rodenberg
January 25, 2022
Failure is not a topic that creatives like to talk about. How come? We asked two of our designers to describe the feeling: our former trainee, Finn Rodenberg, who is currently doing his bachelor’s at FH Bielefeld and will return to us in March, talks to our design lead Peer Hempel about ideals, motivation and changing one’s path.
Finn: When has a project or an idea failed for you?
Peer: Failure is part of every creative process. Everything that you later put on paper or in the digital space goes through a process in which ideas fall by the wayside. Often this moment of failure arises because you can’t realise your absolute ideal – either through spontaneous changes on the client’s side or through an internal change of course. I think that one’s own ideal is often unattainable. But that can also motivate you to always get as close as possible to it.
Finn: Do you ever doubt your designs after experiencing failure?
Peer: No, on the contrary – I tend to stand behind my ideas and would often design in the same way again. It would be stupid to change my attitude just because it’s not understood. In this case, I even provoke people with my designs and make them think, which is also a benefit for me.
Finn: So you stay true to yourself and simply accept failure?
Peer: Absolutely. Our designs fit the client’s brand – but also us. It might very well happen that a group decision causes us to reject the right idea or make the wrong decisions for fear of not being understood. That can be restricting. If this happens often, it has more far-reaching consequences than losing a pitch. The more you deviate from your principles, the more the agency changes – also internally. I’d rather lose five pitches but win one that fits our culture instead.
Finn: How does failure feel like for you personally?
Peer: When you fail, you naturally ask yourself: ‘why?’ Here it’s important to remain rational and look at the situation as a whole. I often take decisions against our projects too personally. For me, design is not a service, but always connected to one’s own personality. That doesn’t always make it easy to deal with the feeling of ‘personal’ failure. It often feels like disappointment.
Finn: What do you think of the saying ‘Failure is an opportunity’?
Peer: Failure is always also a step forward. But of course, one’s own aspiration to deliver a well-rounded project remains – and with it the fear of not living up to one’s own expectations. That can be restricting, but at the same time it’s my greatest motivator to get better, to keep at it, or to take a different path. Failure always accompanies me in my search for the best solution. So there’s something to be said about the cliché ‘You learn from your mistakes’. For me, however, it’s more like ‘You learn more from your mistakes’.