I haven’t always wanted to be a designer. Like most kids I wanted to be a firefighter, a police officer, a cowboy, an astronaut, a professional athlete (more specifically an NBA player and this is funny if you know me because I rarely watch basketball), you know, the usual. Graphic designer never made that list.
In fact, I was never super talented at drawing. Sure I doodled, but nothing ever magnificent. I was always more focused on other things as a child besides being creative. Now I am creative and always have been. Music was always a huge part of my childhood and still is today, but never drawing, painting, or any art involving crafts. Nope. Wasn’t me. It wasn’t until I got to college and FINALLY decided on a major that I fell in love with my creative side.
I ventured into graphic design, video editing, photography and loved it. I thought, “You know I can really make a career out of this!” As I began to think about what it would be like to be a professional graphic designer, I pictured this myself working in the big city with my buds in my ears, sipping on coffee all day long. I would spend time messing around thinking about what to design. I would attend art galleries and venture out into the world for inspiration. I thought I would finally get tattoos and be covered in them because that defines you as a creative person. My hair would always look disheveled, but still some how put together. I would wear t-shirts and hoodies all year round.
Well…I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Let me clarify, that is true for some people and to those people I envy you. I am merely speaking from my experience and if you are reading this with the hopes to someday be a graphic designer, then let me please let you in on a little secret. I will give you 5 misconceptions of the life of a designer.
Misconception #1: It’s always glamorous.
As previously mentioned, I had this vision that I would wake up every morning with a new, fresh project to work on and that it would be my next dream project. This would be repeated every single day because obviously I would finish it in one day. I thought that I would get to just be creative everyday and people would love everything I created the first time around.
This isn’t true.
Sure I have my days where I am looking forward to sitting at my computer opening up my various programs and getting to work, but there are a lot of days where I am stuck on a project. There are some days where I just don’t have any more creative juice left in my tank.
So how do you overcome this?
I don’t know that you ever do, but just knowing that you will have those days and that it’s okay it’s normal, should get you through to the next day. Don’t let this deter you from pursuing this career. It’s great I promise.
Misconception #2: Everyone will LOVE your work the first time around.
Okay…you need to learn REAL fast that you need thick skin to be a graphic designer or you will sink. I remember spending hours on a piece and stepping away thinking, “This may be the best piece I have ever designed,” only present it to the client to hear them say, “This may be the worst piece you have ever designed.”
So the lesson here is to learn that it’s nothing personal to your skills, but merely not what they were looking for. Take the criticism, go back to your desk/office/coffee shop and make it better with the feedback you received. Make it your goal to WOW them the next go round.
Misconception #3: I will be proud of everything I design.
There will come a day in your career where you have high hopes for a project only to get to the final result and hate every element of it. Sometimes the client will change the product so much that it’s no longer recognizable from the initial start of the project.
I know, I know, they hired you for you expertise and you should express your opinion and not back down from it, but in the end, they are the client and a paying client at that. So…GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT! Yes, even if you don’t agree. Just do it and move on to the next project. No one said you had to use it in you portfolio. 🙂
Misconception #4: Clients are willing to pay for my services.
This one is tricky. No one really likes to talk about money. I hate that part of the client interaction, but if you want to eat, the conversation has to happen.
I had this idea that when I presented the final piece to the client, they would have a check with my name on it ready for me with a “Thanks for your incredible work! We even included a nice tip for you *wink*.” Yeah right.
It’s more like hounding the client to pay the invoice or reminding them that they are 30 days past due…60 days past due…90 days past due. It happens. Trust me.
However, I will say that eventually you do get paid and you go on your merry little way a little richer. So it’s a win win. Just hang in there.
Misconception #5: Clients know what they want when they hire me.
I always thought that if I was hired for my services, the client would know exactly what they want when they meet with me. If you need a logo for your company, you would have examples of what you like, what colors you want, what fonts you like, etc. This isn’t always the case.
It boggles my mind how often this happens. I don’t know why you would hire someone to design stuff for you and not know what you really want. It’s also dangerous telling a creative, “Do whatever you would like.” Very dangerous.
Just know that you are going to get this client one day. Best solution to this is to ask a lot of questions because deep down they know what they want. You have to be the one to pull it out of them. Also, what ever you are designing for them, before you get to far into it, send them a very rough draft to get feedback. I normally wouldn’t do that, but in a case like this, it will probably save you time, the client time, and ultimately save the client money. That should make them happy.
I am sure there are more that I missed and if you are a season designer reading this, leave a comment below on some that I missed.
If you are an aspiring designer reading this, I hope this article doesn’t deter you from this career. I merely want to prepare you for what a day is like. In the grand scheme of things, every job has it’s positives and negatives, but being a designer is so much fun and it really is what you make of it. So get to it.
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What are some misconceptions you have about being a graphic designer?
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