Hey everybody! I’ve had this idea for this Article for a really long time, I’m really excited to finally be doing it. This article is going to be geared towards students or other people who are interested in becoming a designer. I know when I was going to school and when I was getting my first couple of jobs. There was a lot I didn’t know about working in the industry. I really like sharing that knowledge with people who are interested in the industry or trying to break into it. Students who are studying to become designer: this is for you!
About This Article
For this Article i wanted to start out with more of a general overview about what it’s like to be a designer: should you be one? What kinds of things do you need to become a designer and is it the right career path for you? I didn’t really know exactly what the day-to-day would be like when I was a student studying design. But now that I’ve had seven or so years under my belt of working in design, I kind of know a little bit about what it takes and what the day to day is going to look like for you. The first thing you need to know is exactly what is design. Now I know there has been books written on this and there could be tons and tons of stuff to say here, but basically design is solving a problem in a meaningful way. Probably the #1 misconception about design is that it’s just “making things pretty.” And while there are some aspects to making design visually appealing, that’s really only the top layer of design. It goes much deeper than that. Ultimately, what matters is if it solves a problem.
Design Is Not Art
Another thing design is not is art. We need art, we love art, we need to appreciate beauty and that’s why we love things like music and movies, going to the theater, going to a gallery and being in awe of these beautiful pieces of art. But that’s not really what design is. Art is something that makes you feel something, something that’s up for a lot of interpretation. It oftentimes is art for art’s sake. While design can be beautiful, that’s not the point of it. Design is not art.
Design Is Not Your Own
Similarly, you can’t think of design as something personal towards you as a designer. You are not creating things for yourself most of the time it’s for a client or the company you’re working for. You’re not designing things just because you like them. You’re actually solving problems on behalf of another person or another company. In order to be a designer, you really need to be able to put yourself aside, think in terms of the ultimate viewer, the audience, or the user that’s going to be using the design, looking at the design, and that’s really who you’re working for, not yourself.
Do You Need An Education?
If you’re thinking about being a designer, you may be wondering if you need to go to college, if you can teach yourself, if you can just kind of wing it and see what happens, um, I’ll probably do another video on the college vs. self-taught idea, but basically, as long as you’re getting education somewhere, you need that. Most people who are designers have some kind of innate, just raw talent. But you do need to refine your technical skills, uh, in order to be a successful, professional designer. So, whether that’s through school, though, um, a design or art program in college, or by, uh, teaching yourself through online videos or from books, taking classes here and there. So as long as you have something, I think you can be successful, but you do need some sort of design education.
Things You Have To
If you’re gonna be a designer, there are certain things you have to be really into. Because, hey, if this is what you’re gonna do every day, you might as well like it.
Love Your Design
So obviously, number 1, you have to love design. You have to love the theories behind design, the reasons for design… you have to really value it. If you don’t value design, you’re not going to convince a client to value your design. So, it really has to be something in you that you truly believe in and understand and can hopefully convey that through your work and to clients. You also have to love helping people solve real problems. I know I’ve had many projects for clients that are in an industry completely outside of what I’m interested in. But at the end of the day, it was my job to learn from them, see what their world was like so that I could, in turn, be empathetic toward their audience, their users, and design something for them, even though it may not be something I would ever normally come across. You kind of have to be able to get outside of yourself and really understand that you are doing a service for a client, not yourself, and be OK with it.
The Creative Process
Another thing you have to really like to do in order to be a designer is to enjoy the creative process. The majority of your time is going to be sitting down, usually by yourself, taking every step of the creative process all the way through. Design is a job, and you have to put in the hours. So if you don’t love the actual process of doing design, maybe you shouldn’t be a designer.
Some Pros & Cons
Now I want to go into some pros and cons about being a designer.
CON: Creative Block
The first con kind of goes along with what I just went over, which is the creative process. And sometimes there are times where you just hit that wall, that creative block and it’s really hard to get new ideas because you’ve been sitting down for too long or you’ve been staring at your computer too long. Yeah, creative block is real.
CON: Designing Not For Yourself
Another thing, which I also kind of went over, is that you’re working for other people, not necessarily yourself. And if you love design just for the aspect of creating things that you personally find beautiful and appealing and that you love it because it’s your personal signature style going out into the world, that’s awesome. But, for the most of us, we are doing design on behalf of other people, and, you know, not everyone likes that.
Pros To Being A Designer
Alright, so now to the pros of being a designer.
PROS: Use Your Creativity
First of all, you get to use your own creativity and in using that innate gift that you have of seeing things and seeing systems and wanting things to be useful and better looking and more successful. Using that and applying that to actual problems in the real world. It’s really satisfying when you’ve completed a design and then it either goes to print or the website goes live or the app goes to the app store and people are actually seeing it and using it and solving the problem that you set out to solve. It’s a really satisfying thing knowing that you’re helping people do something that they couldn’t do before. That’s a really cool part about design. Being able to affect real change in people’s everyday lives.
PROS: Cool Work Environment
Another pro which I personally love is that the design industry tends to be pretty laid back, um, we’re obviously a more creative, progressive, fun field and so a lot of office environments are really casual.
PROS: Design Community
Another pro is that the design community is awesome. I’ve met so many cool people just in different networking events, different clubs I’ve joined. Everyone’s just super cool and laid back. I don’t know if it’s like that in other industries, but I really like how tight-knit the design industry seems to be. Another thing I want to go over is what to expect in your sort of day-to-day life as a designer. If you teach yourself design, or if you go to school, they don’t necessarily teach you what to expect, um, just like an average day on the job.
Busy All Day
So, I wanted to kind of go over that. Although a lot of the time is spent doing the creative process, whether it’s sketching, or mocking up a full design comp, or making revisions on a design, there’s also gonna be some regular office stuff. So, whether that’s emailing your clients, meetings with your client, especially in the beginning of the process, you definitely need to meet with your client, whether that’s in person or over a phone call or video call. If you work in-house for a company where you’re designing for that company, you still need to meet with people who are gonna be signing off on the design, people that are asking for the design.
Bunch of Ideas
There is still gonna be some of that relationship building on the job. Sometimes you may be in the thick of the creative process and just sketching and sketching and sketching, coming up with a bunch of ideas and throwing everything together, maybe making an inspiration board. But there may be some other days where you’re doing some stuff that’s not quite as exciting. So that could be something as simple as resizing a design that you did for another application. For example, if I designed an ad for one magazine, well now we wanna use that same design in a different magazine and their page size is slightly larger or smaller. I may take my design I did for a website on a phone and now I need to make that work on a desktop.
Those are the more menial tasks that I do find are a good bit of what you do. It’s not all coming up with new ideas and really getting down to the nitty-gritty of the design problem at hand, but there’s other smaller, less exciting things that you’re also gonna have to do on the job. And sometimes it’s honestly nice to be able to do something that doesn’t require as much, um, creative thinking and, um, you know, sometimes it’s nice to just have a break and let your mind just kind of numb out for a while. Just kind of nice to have that mix.
That’s All for Now
So, with all of this I hope you know more about what it takes to be a designer? What you can expect working as a designer in the industry? Thank you, guys, so much for reading. If you like this please give it a thumbs-up, I’d really appreciate it. I’m really hoping to make this a bigger Blog. I’m going to have Articles on all kinds of things related to working in design. How to find a job? What people are looking for in an interview? What types of careers are there for designers? How to get your foot in the door? How to get in the tech industry? if you’re traditionally trained in graphic design, all kinds of stuff. Hopefully you’ll find me again, and can’t wait to talk to you next time. Thank you so much, bye!
Also Checkout our previous article on Women in Wikimedia Programs. Also do read Inspire New Readers: What is the New Readers program?