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Is graphic design enough for a lifetime?

I attended a recent AIGA event in Los Angeles. While there was the usual mingling among peers, and conversations of paper, spot-varnishes, and the latest software, I also sensed two different groups within the participants.

First, designers fresh out of school, just entering the workplace, they appeared enthused about their fresh careers, shy but excited, and graphic design seemed to be the only thing on their minds for the evening. This is what they wanted to do. This was the career they picked to succeed in.

Conversations of the second group — designers having worked for a while within the industry — struck a different chord, their sound-bites floating in the venue came off differently and seemed to circle around plans to create products, start second businesses, reinvent their careers etc.

That of course makes you wonder: is a career in graphic design alone not fulfilling — emotionally and financially — anymore?

I was just curious what category Speak Up participants fall into: are you putting your energy 200% into your design-careers? Do you simply kill your time until retirement, or are you running a different gameplan to strike gold?

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ARCHIVE ID 2316 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON May.23.2005 BY Peter Scherrer
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Comments
Rob’s comment is:

I came into the field only after spending the first decade of my 'working' life as a copywriter. Here are my observations from an outsider/insider look at it.

I think what you find is that many firms and agencies are always looking to hire younger designers who are 'hip' and 'current', as well as less expensive, than older, more established designers.

The more established designers, either begin their own firms or move into management/mentor roles to the younger designers. Which to me, would be the normal progression for a talented designer. Or they go in to academia and teach, or a combination of both. The few that have been extremely financially successful with their work or firms, may continue on in that function while slowly preparing the next generation of design 'stars' for the future.

I don't think these scenarios are that different from other 'creative' fields, including copywriting, architecture, etc... Whether or not they are right, is whole different question. I feel that my work can be as contemporary or as classic as the client requires. My judgement is guided by my environment and experience. For a recent example, the redesign of the DC comics logo. While I can see it's appeal to the current crop of Gameboy, PS II, XBox fans (do they actually spend time away from their video games to read comics?) I also seriously believe that it won't last the 30 incredible years the previous mark managed to 'work' for the brand.

My point is that I don't really believe that good design is age-dependent. Sure, there are great ideas coming from students but there are just as many great ideas coming from experienced designers. The downfall is that we live in a society that glorifies 'youth' and puts getting older in that category of things you should do anything you can to avoid. It's sad really. Because the value of contribution isn't just about age, it's about the individual, their life experiences and their view of things.

And since I got laid off from my big corporate design job a few months back, my 200% is going to keeping my career going and supporting my family. That's one thing most 20-somethings don't have to worry about. Not yet.

On May.23.2005 at 11:33 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

That of course makes you wonder: is a career in graphic design alone not fulfilling — emotionally and financially — anymore?

Well, that's a purely subjective question. Insert *any* career into that question and you'll get the same variety of answers. It all depends on the person.

I was just curious what category Speak Up participants fall into: are you putting your energy 200% into your design-careers?

I did that for about 3/4 years out of school. Now I maybe put 70% effort into it.

I now call myself 'a graphic designer who realizes graphic design isn't really as important as we thought it was'. ;o)

I don't NOT enjoy working as a designer, but it certainly doesn't take precedence over anything else in my life (other than the paying-the-bills thing).

Do you simply kill your time until retirement, or are you running a different gameplan to strike gold?

I've decided strikig gold/fame/what-have-you isn't really a goal I wanted anymore. Of course, that may change again...

On May.23.2005 at 11:41 AM
danny’s comment is:

To revisit the feeling of being a young ambitious designer, try to remember what it was like to be in school - to pay tuition, to work a side job so you could afford your supplies - and then remember what it felt like to finally get paid to do what cost you so much only months before.

For the time being, it's both emotionally and financially fulfilling.

Not to say that all designers eventually become less ambitious. I've come across many that still give 200% - and it's inspiring.

On May.23.2005 at 11:49 AM
ben’s comment is:

Did you have to pay $500 to go to this AIGA event? I'm a young designer who is rather skeptical of the graphic design industry now that I've been out of school a year and a half. I can't ever do what I want, and sometimes I feel like the only guy not wearing a turtleneck in this game of cutthroat. Honestly, I already see I need to either create design on my own to fulfill my creative needs, or buy my way into one of the places that is actually creative. I would also be happy spending some time doing something manual like cutting grass or building something. Many times graphic design is too clean, overproduced, and boring. Maybe, graphic design should have some sort of return to it, like some other professions. Seeing the people who are improved or effected by what you do. Doctors see patients get better, counselors see people change, designers see... I'm not getting anything out of what I'm doing. Maybe I just need a new job, who's hiring?

On May.23.2005 at 12:01 PM
JD’s comment is:

I have been a professional designer for 2o years now. I have always had periods where I have been totally obsessed with design and periods where other parts of my life take the focus. I find that when I am totally obsessed with design I do a lot design exploration, but do not accomplish a lot. However when design is in balance with the rest of my life, I do my best work.

I feel that when I am extremely focused on design I start designing for design sake, when it's just part of the fabric of my life, I am able to design for the sake of communication.

On May.23.2005 at 12:17 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

The different gameplan is a fun question. You often hear actors say, "I got into acting so I could direct," or journalists will say, "I got into the news paper to be on television." Odd how we can take circuitous routes. Honestly, how many designers do that? In Seattle I've met a few. Many get into design, become enamored by Flash and motion graphics, and then go onto making short films or music videos.

One designer-Flash-director-auteurs told me, "This is how I planned it. Design was an in road, that's all. I could never be a designer the rest of my life. It's boring." To which I replied If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all. And when he asked what idiot said that, I answered, "John Cage." His response, "Don't you mean Nicholas Cage?"

On May.23.2005 at 12:32 PM
beto’s comment is:

The graphic design field isn't really that different from most every other job out there. Coming from earning a BFA on the subject (that took me ages to finish while holding jobs) and from a country where ageism in the industry is pathetically strong (i.e: no hires of anyone over 35), I guess it is natural, even expected, to have your mind and perspectives changed after so many years of practicing (about 12, in my case). Given this, it rather sounds like a career in sports; get the best of it and have fun while you're young, but keep thinking on what you're gonna do when you get older.

As discussed on a previous post, in the past -30 or 40 years ago- you really had to have the chops to make it in graphic design, and those talents were largely respected (and highly billable) for a long time. The advent and popularization of computers and desktop publishing software meant, for better or worse, the end of that "golden age" in the industry, cheapening both the industry costs and the public appreciation of graphic design, which in turn has make it lose some of its allure as a respectable profession, IMHO. I prefer to answer the eternal "what do you do" question with something like "I'm an information architect" (which I do often) rather than "I'm a graphic designer". Yep, it can get that bad in some circles.

I am definitely not that twentysomething idealist anymore, willing to work his ass off for peanuts - these days, I am rather concerned with not getting stuck in a rut and/or burned out, career-wise. Design will always be a passion of mine - but I'm not so sure if it has to be in the form of a (low-)paying, lifetime career... the scars of experience get you thinking twice about that.

On May.23.2005 at 12:46 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.

That or one eventually realizes their boring life is now over and it doesn't matter any more. ;o)

On May.23.2005 at 12:49 PM
Bryony’s comment is:

And then there are those who like to do a bit of all, while design dominates their lives. I still design on the computer, but I also manage and develop, organize events and think about books and online competitions. My point is, you can have the 200% design lifestyle without it becoming boring because you are in actuality, doing so much more.

On May.23.2005 at 12:50 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

I ceased referring to myself as a "designer" or as an "art director" and now (officially) title myself "maker and do-er of things." I love designing things and wouldn't trade it for anything, to have gotten into this field after lusting after it for years was extraordinarily satisfying and fulfilling. I found that when I came out of school I was wildly ambitious and idealistic; now, just a few years later, I haven't lost an ounce of the idealism, in fact, its all become more focused even as the banalities and irritations of the real world assault me on a daily basis. Longing to work for the "cool" firms passed on once I realized that chasing status and prestige ALWAYS leads to an empty feeling, and instead of worrying about such trivial shit, I simply put all of my efforts into creating the best, most effective work for my clients. In my undergrad years, I majored in history and continue to study it as much as I study more "relevant" things like typography and color. Continued learning and exploration makes this an endlessly fascinating field for me on a personal level. Sometimes I wish I had larger budgets and smarter clients, but who doesn't? About the only thing I want now is for my office environment to put more value on pure creativity. Aside from that, and after having considered making career changes in the past couple years, there's really nothing I'd rather do at this point.

But maybe I'm still too young to know any better.

On May.23.2005 at 01:07 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

Almost a year ago, I sat at a table with 7 other designers and asked them if they could be anything they wanted to be, would it be a designer. Six said "artist," one said "chef."

I already had my crisis and changed the way I work. One day last year I thought "Wow, I'm now doing exactly what I would be doing even if I won $15 million ..." My second thought was "Yeah, well anyone can give up their job/career/business/life and do exactly what they want to do, but can they make a living at it?"

Indeed.

On May.23.2005 at 01:25 PM
John Dilworth’s comment is:

It's very interesting. There is hardly a carreer path for the full time graphic designer. If you wan't your pay to increase you've got to become exclusively niche and be able to demand more from your clientel, or you need to move into management or creative direction, which pretty much means you will not be a "graphic designer" anymore. That said, 10 years have gone by since I graduated from school with my design degree, and I'm still 100% dedicated to becoming a better designer, and 100% frustrated because I don't quite know where that is going to get me in the next 10 years.

On May.23.2005 at 01:25 PM
John Dilworth’s comment is:

It's very interesting. There is hardly a carreer path for the full time graphic designer. If you wan't your pay to increase you've got to become exclusively niche and be able to demand more from your clientel, or you need to move into management or creative direction, which pretty much means you will not be a "graphic designer" anymore. That said, 10 years have gone by since I graduated from school with my design degree, and I'm still 100% dedicated to becoming a better designer, and 100% frustrated because I don't quite know where that is going to get me in the next 10 years.

On May.23.2005 at 01:25 PM
Ryan Peterson’s comment is:

This is a great topic of discussion.

My Co-Worker and I have pondered this many times after hard days of dealing with unenlightened clients, trying to create something new, making logos bigger, etc.

I'm in my late 20's and I'm already worried about this, so that's got to be bad. With the retirement age going up, can I really be doing this in my 60's? Won't the creative well run dry leaving me without new ideas? Won't my age make me expendable for someone new/fresh/hip and less expensive?

Being 4-5 years out of school I'm in that "Soak up everything graphic design" stage right now. (I guess I wouldn't visit this site on my breaks if I wasn't!)

Any tips from some of the more experienced designers who post here on keeping that passion for design? On securing yourself and your family financially?

At 27 I'm the lead designer with my company, so who will guide me but you?

On May.23.2005 at 01:33 PM
Tan’s comment is:

"It's a marathon, not a sprint."...is one of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten about my career.

A career in design is about patience. When you're fresh out of school, it's difficult to comprehend what's ahead — 5 years, 10 years, 20 years — and what that means in terms of how much work you'll produce, how many things you'll achieve, and how much you'll be challenged.

How far you go, or how much you learn all depends on your own ambitions, drive, and fortitude. Plus, a little luck. If you sit on your ass and expect things to happen, then they never will. Design is a tough, competitive career. It never gets easier, only more complicated. But personally, that challenge keeps me going as much as the love for the profession. Both things fuel your drive to want more, which is essential in keeping you from burnout.

Less than 1/3rd of design graduates make it in the profession for more than 5 years. Less than 10% of design businesses make it beyond four years. I don't think those dire statistics have anything to do with the degree of "fulfillment" that a career in design can provide. It has more to do with the perseverance and smarts to survive and last in a tough, competitive profession.

Love for the profession isn't enough. It's just the entry ticket for the ride.

On May.23.2005 at 01:36 PM
Mark Notermann’s comment is:

I am entering this profession as a second career. After 10 or so years in the screenprinting business, I reached the point where I should either start my own business or get out. I had to really think about how I wanted to spend my time— I had clients waiting for me to open my own shop.

My move to design was based on the premise that I could do better than most of what I saw as a printer, both creatively and professionally.

My first move was to get as far away from ink as possible, and sought to learn Flash and interactive. Problem was, I still didn't understand design. Now in school, I have a foundational understanding of design principles (and ink is starting to look pretty good again). I also understand that more than just typeface and color, design is about an approach to solving problems.

Regardless where my path ultimately ends, my passion is in understanding the world we live in, and communicating what I and others have learned. Graphic design is looking to be a jumping-off point.

Here’s to hoping I grow wings

On May.23.2005 at 02:05 PM
gregor’s comment is:

Almost a year ago, I sat at a table with 7 other designers and asked them if they could be anything they wanted to be, would it be a designer. Six said "artist," one said "chef."

I would expect to hear similar comments as well from many of my colleagues.

I've been designing since college, and took "commercial art" courses in high school and college along with a mentorship in "applied arts," but my 1st career choice was artist (painter) and that's what I went to school for.

As a painter, this worked fine and I was able to make roughly 75% of my annual income this way until my kids were born and both time and financial needs become more demanding/complicated. It became really serious when the kids started talking and said oil paint wasn't a food group.

At that point both my spouse, also a painter, and I had to make hard choices regarding our careers and arts orientation. For her, it was returning to school to get her masters in non-profit management. for me it was moving into graphic design full-time.

In more ways then one it has also become a replacement for painting. to repsond to the basic question posed in the post, "are you putting your energy 200% into your design-careers?," I would say no, not 200%, but maybe, possibly, more than if I had come to graphic design as a direct 1st career choice.

More importantly does design make me feel invigorated, excited and fulfilled? Yes, very definitely. Graphic design continues to excite me each and every day I wake up.

Ryan:

Not sure where you are at in your career (workin for a studio or on your own), but here's steps I've taken:

I'm on my own - running a small studio - enlisting designers I've worked with over the years in times of overflow or for projects that require different skills than I have.

With that in mind, I have set myself up as a studio rather than as a freelancer, which is both a shift in personal perspective as well as structural pieces that need to be in place:

Business Licenses (scorp is best to completely separate business from family finances. llc is slightly les expensive but with somewhat less built in protections)

Business Plan

Business Accounts

An Accountant

An equipped studio in a dedicated space (home office or other) which includes many of the items mentioned in this thread:

From the ground up

And as Tan aptly mentions, your own ambitions, drive, and fortitude is bottom line. Luck and being at the right place at the right time comes in handy as well. And to add to that, having a ife outside of design adds wealth to your life inside of design.

On May.23.2005 at 02:26 PM
Kristian Walker’s comment is:

After 14 years working in studios and agencies, I jumped and started my own firm. I taught design on the side for a while, but I'm not sure if that will be long-term or not. I love being a creative director/designer. I hope that in ten or fifteen years that I'm still as excited about it as I have been for the last.

On May.23.2005 at 03:59 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

I should also add that I, myself, am not really into the whole 'career' concept. I can't imagine doing anything related to the same exact field for 40 years. That's not everyone, of course, but I think I, personally, will be happier if I do change careers every so many years. Having a foundation in design is only going to make those other careers that much more interesting, anyways (since there are aspects of design in every career...or at least, there should be).

My wife, for instance, is ditching her teaching degree and going to become an electrician. I admire that.

On May.23.2005 at 04:04 PM
Bark’s comment is:

Creative minds hunger for challenges and stimulus. Years into a single profession track will make any creative mind restless and weary.

I think it is best for any person in the creative fields to branch out, diversify their talents, change direction and maybe even return to thier roots making these changes every 5 to 7 years or so to prevent burnout.

I spent 7 years as an art director in the agencies before spending 6 years in interactive design followed by the last 3 years of integrated marketing and creative direction. Love my career and not knowing exactly where the path will lead is part of keeps it fresh for me.

On May.23.2005 at 05:30 PM
Peter’s comment is:

I've been in the field--with my own biz--for over 20 years. Lately I've taken the enterprize more seriously, much like Ryan. There's more competition, more theory jargon, and we need to go to greater lengths to be credible to clients. So I'm putting more energy into the design practice, but not into creative! Goals have always been surival, which means different things when you have a family and more stuff. I hope to get out in 15 years without seeing the whole field become commodified and outsourced, which is starting to happen.

On May.23.2005 at 05:55 PM
Michael Holdren’s comment is:

My grandfather once said: "When you're deciding a career, pick something that you either love doing, or know you'll be needed for."

So I picked what I love, and also (in my optimistic point of view) what I think will be needed in this world.

A little over a year ago, some co-workers and I were discussing what we would do if we won the lottery. Two of us said we would still design, but open our own studios to do it.

I look forward to being a designer in my wise, old age. One of the things that plague me now is how I feel I have so much to learn still. I think in 20 or 30 years, there might be a little less to learn and I'll feel a bit more comfortable about my work.

On May.23.2005 at 07:47 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

I love the lotto question: if money wasn't an option, would you still design. As some have already mentioned, they'd still want to be designers. At this moment in time, I would enthusiastically agree. However, there's a lot of options out there to be creative that design magazines don't cover. Designers should keep their eyes open for those opportunities.

I believe those that last a long time in the industry do so by making their own path. They don't measure their accomplishments with others. To find true success, they must define it themselves and work towards it. I'd be surprised if many people that come to SU are just killing time before retirement. Me, I have an NDA with myself so I can't really say what the future holds, but I'm working at least 200% towards it.

On May.23.2005 at 09:35 PM
HQ’s comment is:

20 years designing and still never a dull moment! I added teaching to my repertoire two years ago and found that sharing my knowledge, expertise and love of art and design have made me a more confident and sought after designer; and I love teaching! So much I have decided to return to school this fall and get my MFA. The academic route is working for me.

On May.23.2005 at 11:05 PM
ben’s comment is:

Does graphic design define you?

On May.24.2005 at 08:45 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Ben, you obviously have a pessimistic view towards graphic design and that's perfectly fine and valid — I ain't judgin' or condemnin'. My first question for you, in regards to something you wrote earlier in the discussion ("buy my way into one of the places that is actually creative"), what do you mean by "buying into" one of these places?

Second, if graphic design doesn't define you, it's quite likely that you might be better off doing something else. If the profession you choose to be in, the thing that you are going to do for more than 8 hours a day, the thing that is going to put food in your table doesn't somehow define who you are and what you do in a fulfilling way then it's definitely not worth engaging in it. In my case, I can say that graphic design defines me. For you that may mean that I suscribe to a life of luxury, black turtle necks and an endless self-congratulatory in-crowd… certainly not the case. Graphic design defines me in that, yes, that is what I do for a living: every day I wake up, I go to the office, sit down in front of a computer, move type and images around for a while, talk to clients and vendors and eventually get a check deposited in my bank account. That is a pretty defining situation. But, also, graphic design defines me in the way I look at things, the way I watch a movie, the way I choose which shirt to buy, the way I lay out the furniture in my apartment, the way I deal with people and so forth. Letting your profession define you is not a bad thing…

I was going to say something else but I lost my train of thought…

On May.24.2005 at 09:16 AM
m. kingsley’s comment is:

> I would also be happy spending some time doing something manual like cutting grass or building something.

Or like working as a janitor?

Thank you! I'm here all week!

Sorry, that was a joke for long-time readers.

On May.24.2005 at 09:58 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Second, if graphic design doesn't define you, it's quite likely that you might be better off doing something else.

One's career should never be their defining characteristic. Or, rather, for a lot of people, it shouldn't. It seems to be a very American thing to equate one's career with who they are. Is the rest of the world co-opting that habit?

I agree with the sentiment that if you don't like it, maybe don't make a career out of it, though.

I would also be happy spending some time doing something manual like cutting grass or building something.

The ideal career for me would be half days at a desk, half days lifing heavy objects. I'm building retaining walls in my yard this spring and it's one of the most relaxing things I do. Heavy mental lifting (graphic design) is as stressful as heavy physical lifting. When both are done in moderation, it's a good thing.

On May.24.2005 at 10:17 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> One's career should never be their defining characteristic.

Well, yeah, of course not…not literally. But don't forget that that's how we know people. My brother in law is an architect. My uncle is a doctor. My friend living in Israel is an engineer. My friends living in Mexico are businessmen. Etc. All these people also have hobbies and display certain attitudes that may or may not be defined by their career but linguistically, if you will, we define people by what they do. And, as I said, I don't think that's bad —ï¿œunless you are a pimp or something. Not all people are suited for all professions so it is extremely common that people are an extension of the traits of any given profession. Lawyers are different persons than designers than plumbers than sports athletes. Nothing wrong with what you do letting influence who you are.

On May.24.2005 at 11:20 AM
Lea’s comment is:

Wow, what a loaded question, and a very personal one really. I think one of the difficulties with this question is the fact that many in the graphic design profession enter it because they're trying to marry several different interests: art, technology, paper, advertising, multi-media, writing, presentation etc. And creative people are always restless, trying to find the next spark somewhere, somehow. At least that's my take.

I don't think it's necessarily bad to say "no" to this question. It certainly doesn't mean that you aren't dedicated or passionate to the field--it means that there may be more interests to your life than graphic design. And frankly, that's a good thing.

I don't think "enough" is a proper quesion; It immediately puts people on the defensive for really no reason.

In short, creativity tends to be more reaching than a simpele career designation.

On May.24.2005 at 11:21 AM
Joe Fortunato’s comment is:

I've been in the design industry since I was in art school - about 14 years now. I've had ups and downs, good pay, bad pay, good clients and bad clients.

After all this time, I rarely enjoy designing anything. The alarm clock sucks a little of my soul every morning, just as if I were a banker or a fry cook at McDonald's. The artist inside has left the building.

Design is just what I do. I don't know anything else. I just pay my bills and dream of doing something else - namely playing music.

On May.24.2005 at 04:41 PM
Viviane’s comment is:

Considering that we spend most of our waking hours working, it makes sense to pick a profession you actually love.

I always thought of graphic design as doing all the things I loved about kindergarten — playing with colors, materials and interacting with others — and getting paid for it!

On May.25.2005 at 04:24 PM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

I was going to say something else but I lost my train of thought…

You may have lost your train of thought but it was heading in the right direction.

I love being a graphic designer, call it what you want but I love doing what I do. I became a designer because of who I am, not the other way around. I think being a designer has changed the way I look at the world around me. Such as movies, my apartment and so on. So Armin, I absolutely agree with you.

If you really enjoy what you do it extends into other areas of your life whether you realize it or not. Many of my friends and family point things out that I don't even notice. Sometimes I'll say or do something and they will say "Well that's the creative side or designer talking in you." Well of course, that's who I am!!!

many in the graphic design profession enter it because they're trying to marry several different interests: art, technology, paper, advertising, multi-media, writing, presentation etc.

That's how I found my way to graphic design. Mayber that's just the path some of us take to find the "right fit" profession. I began as an artist, doodling all of the time, playing with my dads compass and drawing sets, his computer he brought home every night (he's an engineer)and my mom is a crafts person, she makes beautiful quilts, dolls and so many other amazing things. Because my father brought home that computer every night I had a knack for computers and I also loved art...so I "married" the two and went to a vocational-technical school for Commercial Art during the second half of my day in high school. Once I found that program I realized I had great potential in it and continued my education to receive a BFA.

I love what I do and although that 200% doesn't always go towards it, it's always there in the back of my mind saying "How could that look better?"

On May.31.2005 at 09:54 AM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

One more thing...

If you are doing your "job" correctly, you really have to dive into your projects. How can you get bored with such a variety of clients? Currently I work full-time for a minor league hockey team and an entertainment venue. I am constantly learning new things and this makes my work interesting. I don't think I could ever get bored being a designer. One day it's hockey, then it's arena football, then it's Rod Stewart. On the other hand in my freelance work it is a pottery place for kids, a new clothing line, a silent movie series. It's always something new and if you enjoy what you do, you research your project and create the best solution for each and every project.

So is it enough for a lifetime? Absolutely!

On May.31.2005 at 10:00 AM
David’s comment is:

I find design to be repetitious. It's largely parted into two groups. Art designers and communication designers. If you want to make money generally you need to communicate a product so you are the clients bitch. Don't get me wrong I don't mind that but it is usually repetitious work. If you are a art designer you are either called David Carson or Neville Brody. You do make money but as a result of your absolute freedom you still need to hammer the bottle on the weekend. It's not rock music and it's not the playboy mansion so it, in my opinion, is just as stale and boring as a job crunching tax codes.

I've decided to create products and over the last 4 months have been largely successful to a point. The point is I still need to keep my communication job to subsidise my art ambitions. Who knows where it will take me but I will say to any new designers or students, look at products early on so you don't end up wishing you'd thought about it sooner. I'm 34 and left college 11 years ago, I so wish I'd thought (or been told when I was at art school) that it's the easiest thing in the world to get a meeting with a toy manufacturer or publisher, they need your ideas because they just write the orders. Also don't take any of my advice seriously, I'm a drunk. ;-)

On Jun.03.2005 at 08:59 AM
Christopher’s comment is:

The actual web design in a lot of sites is not that they could be, i'm really surprissed when i'm looking in google and the first place for "web design" key search, are very ugly sites...

On Sep.01.2005 at 04:07 PM
Christopher’s comment is:

The actual web design in a lot of sites is not that they could be, i'm really surprissed when i'm looking in google and the first place for "web design" key search, are very ugly sites...

On Sep.01.2005 at 04:08 PM
Frank McClung’s comment is:

Graphic Design is ________

boring.

trendy.

one dimensional.

restrictive.

insincere.

manipulated.

self-indulgent.

insecure.

overly simplistic.

CREATIVITY ON TRAINING WHEELS.

There. I've said it. And I feel only slightly better. You may sense my frustration with graphic design. You can't live in it. You can't wear it. With the computer's advent, you can't even touch it anymore. Just a bunch of 1's and 0's. Turn the power off and it doesn't exist (yes, I know, some clients still have money for print). So how do you use it to communicate, to bring about change, to speak to the heart?

You see, I'm decompressing from a two week tour of Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York City. At every turn I was confronted with stunning architectural design, industrial design and interior design. These other design disciplines are far more complex and challenging than graphic design. Graphic designers pat themselves on the back when they come up with an award winning identity, a nifty website or novel ad campaign. But who are we fooling? It's child's play compared to architectural design. If you've ever stood on top of the Empire State Building (or remodeled an old home for that matter), then you'll know what I mean. Several years ago I read an interview with Stefan Sagmeister, one of my favorite graphic designers. He said was tiring of graphic design and wanted to try film. For someone at the top of his field, I thought this odd. I noticed the same about Tibor Kalman who founded the legendary M&Co. He chunked it all at the height of M&Co's success to be the founding editor of the magazine COLORS.

Why?

I think its because graphic design is like having training wheels on your bike when you are first learning to ride. Graphic design provides an easy entry point (thanks to the computer) for other creative fields. We "professionals" may whine about how everyone with Photoshop is now a self-labeled "graphic designer", but I think it's great. For those of us whose creativity was supressed by scores of college classes in math, physics, engineering and other science related drudgery, graphic design is a unintimidating way to discover our heart's visual language. The problem arises once our hearts are able to speak, graphic design and its current outlets (mainly advertising) become a hinderance to personal growth and creativity. Graphic designers should hike into other fields of design as they mature in their creativity. Training wheels are good, but we must remove them or our creativity will become boring, trendy, one dimensional, restricted, self-indulgent, insecure and overly simplistic.

On Sep.03.2005 at 12:11 AM