There are a lot of perceptions about what it’s like to work as a graphic designer. Many people think we’re all fine artists in our free time. Others think that coming up with designs is pretty quick and easy, or that graphic designers are only useful for certain kinds of projects. The reality is quite different. While not all graphic designers are the same, these are my thoughts on what the job is really like and the truth behind some common misconceptions.
1. You don’t have to be “artistic” to be a designer.
When most people picture a graphic designer, they think of a creative genius that effortlessly crafts riveting works of art. However, the reality is usually more grounded. The primary role of a graphic designer is more like that of a problem solver that uses expertise to create functional and user-friendly solutions for clients. Personally, I actually lack traditional fine art skills (like painting and drawing), but that doesn’t hinder my design work. Instead, I rely on other areas of art and my strong foundational design skills to creatively address challenges and develop fresh concepts.
2. Creativity is something that’s earned.
Speaking of creativity, a common misconception is that creativity is something a person is born with or is part of their personality in a fundamental way. It’s actually the opposite in many cases.
When most people picture a graphic designer, they think of a creative genius that effortlessly crafts riveting works of art. However, the reality is usually more grounded.
Creativity is an acquirable skill. Like other skills, time and dedication can hone your creativity and help you solve problems with inventive solutions. I’ve found that keeping an open mind and a constant curiosity about successful designs allows me to continuously expand my creative potential.
3. Feedback bloat can be a challenge.
Have you ever ordered a dish on a whim at a restaurant that you were a little unsure about but took the leap because you trust the chef knows their stuff? Graphic design is a bit like that. It’s essential that we have our client’s faith in our ability to craft visually engaging, functional designs. We value our clients’ feedback; it’s crucial to achieving a successful design. However, frequent revisions and changes can hinder the design process. So, trusting our expertise allows us to create something that both exceeds expectations and meets project objectives efficiently.
4. Clients don’t always pick our favorite option.
Now, that’s not to say that your taste is bad or you’re making the wrong choice. You’re still choosing something that we believe is well-designed enough to present to you as an option. Still, it really feels like there is a fundamental law of the universe where clients just happen to pick our least preferred choice every time.
An emotional connection fuels our drive to deliver designs that resonate deeply with both our clients and ourselves, infusing our projects with a sense of authenticity.
Since we designers are working so closely with each design, we are innately aware of every detail that goes into a concept as well as the reason behind each element. Naturally, we’re going to have our favorites and hope that you’ll agree with our vision.
5. We’re pretty emotionally attached to our work.
Designers are often strongly attached to their work. To be honest, sometimes we get disappointed by feedback or if we have to make changes to something we’re committed to. Of course, we always make an effort to put aside our emotions and make those necessary changes. It is your brand, after all. But when we’re truly pleased with a design, it stings a little to make those alterations and we can’t help but wonder if we could have defended our design further or done something to make you agree with that vision. This emotional connection fuels our drive to deliver designs that resonate deeply with both our clients and ourselves, infusing our projects with a sense of authenticity.
6. Our biggest critics are usually ourselves.
When you are intimately involved with something, it’s easier to see its flaws. Think about it this way: when you’re at home, you probably notice the dust and the defects it has, whereas you probably lack that same perception when visiting someone else’s home. As designers, we can be our own harshest critics. I can’t help but scrutinize every detail of my work and I’m constantly seeking ways to improve and refine my designs so they can be as successful as possible. However, I think this self-critical nature helps push me to go above and beyond, ensuring that each design is the best it can be.