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Creative professional, designer, author. Lover of chocolate, coffee, laughter, and football. Teaching and inspiring through design.
A puzzle piece separated from the rest of the puzzle

You know how it is. You spend days, weeks, months — maybe even years — working on a project. You put the work in. You send the email, make the presentation, upload the file or press the submit button. Your expectation is praise and acceptance. You are waiting for the crescendo of applause as you take a bow for a job well done. But the reality isn’t always as glorious. Instead, you receive criticism, dislike, change requests — maybe even what you deem as disrespectful feedback. This isn’t what you expected at all, and now, you’ve failed. …

Can we go back to the basics? Let me explain…

I had a discovery call with a client and asked them what their company’s mission was. They went on to read from a paragraph listed on their website. I could tell they were reading because 1) I had already read this very same paragraph beforehand and 2) it was quite obvious that the statement was being read.

You might clutch your pearls or gasp in disbelief that a business owner, CEO, or leader would not be able to easily answer this question. But I believe this is more of a common issue than you would think. …

An animation of a checklist

There are plenty of productivity articles to go around. I’ve experimented with many methods to get stuff done, and no matter what it looks like, the “to-do” list eventually becomes overwhelming. One day, as I was writing my tasks down, my mind wandered to a childhood favorite gospel song—It’s Already Done. Then I looked down at my latest sticky note, crumpled it up, and rewrote it with a new perspective and framing of words.

Here’s the method that I currently practice to get things done. Whatever your method of madness is, there’s one key thing you must do:

You have…

Blindfolded designer shooting arrows but missing the target.

Bad clients are the worse. I know because I used to complain about them all the time.

They make you despise answering the phone, fear opening emails, and dread the awkward Zoom calls that ruin your mood for the rest of the day. They nitpick over fonts, unapologetically change the scope, respect no boundaries, and undeniably wake up thinking about ways in which to torture their lowly designers. And there are probably hundreds, maybe even thousands, of online groups and forums where designers could endlessly compare stories about the most egregious experiences created by these terrible people.

No doubt, bad…

A whimsical illustration represented by a montage of people learning by reading a book, holding a pencil, working on the computer.

Just ask Google. It’s one of the easiest ways to get an answer to your question. But is that really the best method to acquire knowledge?

“Googling” is an entry point, but shouldn’t be a final destination for deep learning. An observation that I’ve made over the years, now illuminated by my newfound experience as an adjunct professor, is that some people just scratch the surface when it comes to learning. If they can’t find the answer or solution right away at an entry point — the first page of a Google search, asking a question on Facebook, watching just…

Dominoes toppling each other

Do you think Carolyn Davidson, creator of the Nike logo, had any idea that her design would become an iconic cultural symbol, worldwide?

As a recent college graduate, she was offered a job by Phil Knight, founder of Nike (then called Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc.). His company needed a symbol to represent “movement” for an upcoming shoe line and Carolyn provided them five concepts drawn on a napkin. One of those concepts happened to be the infamous “swoosh”. She was paid $35 for her concept (this was in the 1970s) and after a bit of refinement, it was used as…

I just wanna make stuff!

I don’t consider myself a creative genius by any means, but I am pretty proud of some of the things I’ve created over the years. I even manage to impress myself every once in a while. From client projects to my own creative initiatives in the forms of books, products, tees, and teachings — I believe I’ve executed some projects that were worth a bit of hype (at least for a moment in time). But that seems to be my problem, a lack of marketing chops that allow me to further promote an important creative work, whether it be to…

Show that your work is about more than just aesthetics.

Illustration of paper, pencil, calculator, phone, and magnifying glass

We’ve all heard the statement “quality over quantity”, which usually rings true in most cases. But quantifying has its advantages, too. Take a look at these two statements below and determine which one stands out more:

“That was a good conference.”


“I was blown away by some dynamic speakers who helped me craft five creative action steps to book my next six-figure deal!”

The second description sounds a lot more appealing, right? That’s because the second statement quantified the type of action steps needed to produce specific results. …

Delivering excellence versus overdelivering.

Client in a car receiving an anonymous bag from the designer in a drive-thru window

I could already taste it. The enticing smell of those savory and perfectly seasoned fries was faintly calling me from a distance. I pulled into the drive-thru and ordered large fries from my fave southern fast-food spot. All I needed were those hot, crispy-soft fries to hold me over for the next couple of hours. I’m greeted by the friendly cashier who not only hands me the bag of steaming hot and unhealthy goodness but also offers me something else.

— “Would you like this root beer? We accidentally made an extra one.”

— “Um, okay sure.”

I took it…

It all started with a voicemail notification. I had just woken up from a nap on a Friday evening. I checked the voicemail to hear my recruiter on the other end: “Shannel, I regret to inform you that you have been released from your position, effective today. Let me know a good time to meet up if you want to get your stuff.” Groggy and confused, I played the message over again to make sure I heard it correctly. I was being laid off from a contract design job at a major corporation that I was doing well at, so…

Shannel Wheeler

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