Devil’s Advocate: What Sucks About Being a Graphic Designer

While this may be a harsh title for a subject I enjoy, the fact remains, my career path is not perfect. Even if you are passionate about something, it is normal to come to grips with it not being flawless. Graphic design is no exception, as it is not a profession for the majority.

In an earlier post, I alluded to a date I had with someone on the fast track to a lucrative job position. Specifically, she is getting ready to graduate law school and has a job lined up post graduation.  At one time, I had similar aspirations, as I can debate with the best. Somewhere in my undergrad journey, I realized I could not get excited enough to wake up, punch a clock and, more or less, argue for a living (although, I found out she certainly does). Suddenly, I realized my journey was not as cut and dry (or immediately profitable) as hers. This was intimidating.

Starting salaries in design are not the greatest and I have learned that you have to take on several other skill-sets (hence my return to school) to get noticed in the job market. My best friends are police officers and working in sales with very good salaries, yet I cannot help but question my career choices from time to time.

I have been fortunate to work with people that I can connect with on a creative level. Every now and then, especially earlier in my journey, I would come up with an “out of the box” idea. Clever doesn’t always translate into effective. Even based on where I might sit in an office, folks can judge an unfinished product. There are times when a designer can get stumped and just has to think things over. Unfortunately, not all employers “get” this and think I’m just daydreaming.

Fashions trends come and go, the same can be said of design. Stylish fonts and design elements constantly change, take a look how often your favorite website might tweak their look. Technology is moving at a rapid speed. Will there be new software that will overtake the Adobe empire? Do I have to upgrade to every version to remain educated? Design forces you to always stay current.

So the pays starts off lousy, you are only as good as your last design and the job constantly changes. What am I thinking staying on this path? I think a better question to ask is, “Can I really see myself doing this job for the rest of my life?” In the cases of being a lawyer, sales representative or working in non-profit, the answer is no (though I appreciate those jobs). While trepidation lies in my uncertainties, it also makes my path exciting. Joe Strummer of the band, The Clash, once said, “The future is unknown.” To try to predict the where graphic design is headed, one could say the same, but it is a challenge I am up for.

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4 Responses
  1. [...] my last post, I wrote about my chosen profession/career path and why it, for lack of a better term, sucks. Why [...]

  2. Stacy Gitlin says:

    HI Jon,
    Your writing is always entertaining. Each word gives me a look into your voice and who you are but I’m not sure there is a devil’s advocate stance anywhere in here. In the beginning I just thought you were taking your time, setting up for the punch. But the punch never came. Not only that but you start with being a graphic designer sucks only to do a 180 and say “is the creative outlet that has and will continue to motivate my career.” Does it no longer suck?
    You use title breaks in many of your blog entries. I’m not sure it works here. Usually they set up a sepearte train of thought or a huge wall of text. I would think this entry in a singular stream of opinion. The entry is not long enough to need so many breaks in thought. When you stop, so does the reader.

  3. Ashley Fraser says:

    Jon,
    I was thinking the same as Stacy in regards to the title breaks. Normally really great and an easy way for you and the reader to change thought gears, here, a little choppy. Maybe try it again removing all or even just some of them.
    I am not sure I totally understood this assignment to be able to say whether this was a good devil’s advocate or not. Reading this week’s assignment it was called an “unexpected theses” instead of arguing something against the norm. For the most part you argued against yourself about continuing graphic design, your niche, but in your sum it up you still said how great it was for you. I took the assignment as, you had to choose a stance and follow it all the way through. For mine, I don’t 100% think teens are bad drivers and should wait until 18 but that would have been arguing both sides.
    Overall, good writing as usual, not sure you followed my interpretation on the assignment but I don’t know that I got it right either. This would be a good one to get some feedback from the professor on.

  4. admin says:

    You are both right. I was a little too “big picture” with my ideas and should have taken a stronger stance towards something within design, rather than question my line of work. Good feedback guys, thanks.

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