Small changes, Big impact. – By @elisaczerwenka

By Elisa Czerwenka


Small changes, Big impact.


We have now reached the end of term 1. I still can’t believe how quickly time passed. It feels like a couple of weeks ago, when I walked up the stairs for my first day. One thing I have started doing recently is reflecting on every brief. I am analysing what I have done well and how I can improve.
The last weeks of this term were the most intense for me. While I have grown and learned a lot in my whole time at SCA, the previous two briefs completely changed how I work and how I see myself.

About three weeks ago, I hit my lowest point so far. With built-up pressure, not from anyone else, but myself, I wanted to do better than all the weeks before. At the same time, I was trying to please everyone. And of course, I failed. While my partner and I wrote down plenty of ideas, we killed them immediately if just one mentor had doubts. We took everyone’s feedback to heart and changed everything — multiple times. Then, my partner got ill in the middle of the week. When I was alone in class, I started doubting myself even more. Nothing felt good enough, and I felt like an imposter. Three days before the deadline, Marc asked us to put three posters into a presentation by 2 PM. I had nothing. So what I ended up putting in the deck was probably the single most embarrassing thing I had ever presented. I made two rushed posters in 5 minutes. And they looked exactly like you imagined. They weren’t communicating . As a designer, I never felt so defeated. We ended up killing this idea as well. It didn’t feel right.

So on the day of the deadline, we had nothing. In hindsight, I still can’t believe how that happened. However, to my surprise, we managed to come up with a last-minute campaign and created all executions and a case study video – and that only within 5 hours. Apparently we weren’t the worst in the room, but since when was that a goal? I knew I had to change my process. So I sat at home on the weekend, made myself some hot chocolate and analysed every bit of my week. The last brief before term ended had to be great, not okay or “good”. I wanted to end on a high.

First thing I realised was that I have to be in playful child state if I want to come up with an idea of value. I have to make sure I am having fun. That sounds easy, but it is work, once the stress levels get higher. Furthermore, I have to make sure that I help my partner stay in a playful child too. If they are in the right mode, it will directly reflect on me. Besides, I made sure I slept enough and ate well. Sounds boring, but it works.

Another thing I have done is to change where I sit. After spending two weeks in a dark corner, I knew I had to move right to the centre of the room with more people and more interaction. No more isolation. I am too extroverted to hide in a corner. Also, my partner and I started putting up all our work on the wall right at the entrance. No one could walk by without seeing it and judging it. Peoples’ reactions to something they see while passing-by are probably the most open and honest opinions you can get.
Also, I made sure I was honest with my partner about what we wanted to achieve. We needed to be on the same page. At SCA you have to pick your battles. Sometimes you use a brief to learn, sometimes you want to please the client, sometimes you want to impress your peers, your mentors, and in some weeks, you just want to survive.

My partner and I were clear from day one that we wanted to make something that stands out. We were willing to take risks, including pushing some of the guidelines the clients had given to us. The reason being: We wanted to learn.

So we went to work, and very quickly the work improved. All the little things I had changed slowly paid off. I was more creative and more playful. Most importantly, I regained my confidence. I knew I could do this. So we ended up with an idea that was precisely what we wanted. It was polarising. Some mentors loved it; some hated it. First, we started to worry, but soon we both realised that it was okay. You can not please everyone. Thanks to our regained confidence, we decided to push our work as far as we could. As “good enough” was not what we aimed for. We defended the idea and in the end, got rewarded for it. It was my best piece of work I have made this term, and probably one of the best things I have ever made.

It felt good to end on such a high. But I am also aware that that’s not the end, but only the beginning. Term 1 is done, and I can’t wait to start Term 2. On that note, I wish happy holidays to everyone! I hope you come back relaxed and ready to smash term 2.


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