I woke up to a nice surprise – my postcards and business cards were featured on FPO, or For Print Only, a design blog showcasing design printed matter. I submitted these in early January, so I figured they didn't cut the mustard and would not be featured. So it made my morning to know that they did indeed cut the mustard.
As an aside, it's funny how self-doubt so quickly fills in the hole that you hoped would be filled by the praises and affirmations of others. If nobody else thinks it is good, then it probably isn't, or so the thinking goes. I think sites like Dribbble, where it's a 24/7 praise fest (or jerking circle, depending on how you view it), exist because designers constantly crave the affirmation of others. Visually-minded creatives are by their very nature show-offs. But we are also visual communicators, and if we fail at that, than we question our very selves — we identify so heavily on what we make that we find it hard to separate ourselves from it. To a certain extent this is normal and healthy, but it gets ugly and out of hand when we do what we do expressly for praise.
I had forgotten that, when I was designing these cards, when I was getting them produced, I thoroughly enjoyed making them in their own right, and whether others loved it or not was very secondary. And then when they were printed and I started sending them out to people and trying to get them some publicity, I started doubting them. What if people don't like them. Why aren't thousands of people tweeting and blogging about them? How come I haven't been carried on the shoulders of the design elite toward my throne of Design Awesomeness yet? I guess I suck and I should just get a different job. Or so the thinking goes.
It's nice to have work featured on blogs, to be affirmed in this way. And as a professional, from a strictly business perspective, one would hope they make work that is worthy of acclaim. That's what we're paid for, and the mentions are often how we get our next gig. But it is symptomatic of our "I Share, Therefore I Am" culture that we fail to see the worth in our work unless it is instantaneously and unanimously regarded by the crowd.
My conclusion: Enjoy your work, make stuff you stand behind, and share it, send it out to anyone who might care. And then move on. Keep walking and don't look back. Be pleasantly surprised when you are praised, receive it, but don't live for it. Don't get stuck in the greedy desire for more and more praise. Most of all, don't let your enjoyment and valuation of what you do be so heavily influenced by what others think. Strive to be at a place where, even if you were objectively bad at what you do, you'd still keep doing it because you love it and don't care what others think.