My Love/Hate Relationship
I want to start off with something appropriate for the design student readers. But I also want to share some personal sentiments, as this is our official introduction to one another. So I present the Top 10 things I LOVE & HATE about being a designer:
First, my LOVE List:
Flexible hours that can change day to day — I love the excitement of gearing up for a project, the concentration of making it perfect, and glory of presenting it. When I'm super busy, it's a rush of creative-fueled adrenaline! And when I'm not busy, it's a chance to refuel.
Learning about everything else that's not design — Most likely when you're designing a piece of branding or collateral, it's not for another graphic designer. Therefore, you have to immerse yourself in the research of that subject. I've learned so much about a range of topics other than design in my career. And I love every chance to learn about something new.
Colors! — Names of colors, numbers of colors, swatches of smooth, printed ink color—color has mood-altering effects and it heightens the senses.
Getting away with edgy fashion choices in the workplace — It's true, as a "Creative" you get questioned a lot less for an outfit choice that borders on odd... in fact, I think many clients expect it.
Leaving at 4pm for Happy Hour with your co-Creatives is absolutely considered a "staff-meeting."
Always having access to the latest version of Photoshop — It's useful for work or play.
Still being able to impress people with my drawing skills — Just like my tiny comedienne, I still enjoy a good round of applause now and again.
Surfing the Internet and playing around on cool websites is considered "research".
Typefaces! — Yes, I really do like typefaces! —Looking at them. Drawing them. Smelling them. And I do like Futura! (As in my shirt above.) Thanks Paul Renner!
When you tell people you're a designer, their usual response is, "oh, cool!"
Now, for my HATE (or dislike very much) List:
Sitting inside at a computer on a pretty day. — Sure, you'd think you'd be able to take your work outside, but it would be way to inefficient to drag out your computer, tablet, Pantone books, paper swatches, sketch pad, back-up drive, the extra-large monitor that makes design so much easier, and then forward your desk phone on top of all of that!
Clients that dumb down work. — Yep, it's going to happen. Eventually, someone's going to take your tasty, brilliant work and water it down for the masses.
The amount of money I have spent on equipment/art supplies/computer hardware (particularly of the Macintosh variety). — I should have a bumper sticker that says "My desktop costs more than your diamond." (©Sheri F. Selph, just in case.)
Freelance taxes — Art and accounting is a headache waiting to happen.
Same day creative comps that are due before lunch — Hello, stress!! No amount of coffee is going to make me this much of a morning person.
Font obsessiveness — "I see the Papyrus on your sign, and it's going to drive me crazy thinking about it all day!"
Being undervalued as a designer — A copy of Photoshop on a computer does not a designer make. I cannot say that being undervalued has happened to me that much. I have been lucky. But when it does happen, it can really put a damper on things.
Technology overload — I always wanted to be a designer not tech support. But any computer while eventually have problems, and when nobody knows how to fix your because it's not like everyone else's, you'll have to do it yourself.
Thinking about the money I could've made being a doctor/salesperson/programmer/financial analyst etc. — Let's face it, there are more lucrative careers than being a designer these days. But then again, you don't get to hear people say, "oh, cool!" quite as much.
Not being able to just "turn off" and relax — Sorry, being a designer is a 24/7 deal...even when you're not working, you're still working—still scheming, still brainstorming, still thumbnailing in your head, still analyzing your television commercials for messaging, still looking for unique color and font combos... It's more than a job, it's a life-calling.
So, that's my Love/Hate relationship with graphic design. As with any academically pursued field I think there are going to be days where you love it and days where you wish you were doing something entirely different. There are many days where I wish I had pursued something different/easier/harder/more-impactful. But I just weigh the good and the bad and in the end, I can't imagine not being a designer.
For my undecided students: I hope that this has clarified some parts about what being a graphic designer can sometimes entail. It's not always an easy road. But at the end of the day, you either live it and you love it—or you move on a little bit more aware of the world than you were before.
(Photography in this post was tweaked in Photoshop CC using layer masks: an adjustment layer was made with the B&W adjustment and the red channel was pulled up to darken the letters which are printed in red—creating more contrast between the background of the shirt and the screen-print. Shirt design is from The Social Dept where you can get your own Futura shirt.)