How to select a project? It’s different for every designer, and the answer shouldn’t be to take all of projects that come our way. Designers should know who they want to work with and what to seek out. For me? I look for passion first and foremost. If a client has passion for his or her business, there’s a good chance great work will come from it. Yes, we need money to live. Yes, I deserve payment for the work that I do. All of that goes without saying. But if a client comes to me with passion for a project, I will always try my best to make it happen.

The reason for this is simple: good work breeds more good work. Doesn’t matter if it’s a huge client with deep pockets or a small-time mom & pop indy store. If the design looks fantastic, wonderful things are sure to follow.

There are many causes for this great design truth ranging from the very practical to the very mystical. When a designer is thriving at his craft, discoveries are made. Techniques are born through new color combinations, layout ideas, and visual solutions. A tangible ‘click’ occurs in the right side of the brain, resulting in a sudden euphoric amalgamation of creative perspectives. In short, good work is done and lessons are carried over to the next project. From one good moment come many more. Before long, a body of work is born and a creative fingerprint emerges.

And then, along come better clients. And just what makes a client better? Certainly this is in the eye of the beholder but it’s fair to say that we, as designers, all prefer working with people who get us. The best clients are the ones that don’t need their arms twisted. They don’t need intense discussion to make a vision come through. The best clients are the ones that share in our creative vision from the get go (although there’s nothing wrong with construction criticism.)

However, good clients don’t simply appear out of thin air. They are cultivated as a consequence of the process. Good clients will show up when that body of work and that creative fingerprint is evident. You won’t find them, they will find you. 

The lesson then is this: place passion above all else. Look for projects that don’t just sound fun but are being managed by quality, passionate people. Look for people who are hungry to do great things and understand that much of it begins and ends with excellent design. The subject of the project does not guarantee the result, the people do.