How Wannabe Designers Burden the Profession

Mar 17 2011 by Speider Schneider | 111 Comments

Wannabe Designers vs. Professional Designers

Thanks to Facebook, I get odd news and instant anxiety rather quickly. I’m sweating over my keyboard in an attempt to earn enough for my weekly meal and maybe one pill of my medication, when I notice on Facebook a status update that a graphic designer friend has "spent the afternoon riding a fabulous palomino horse, Milton Glaser".

I don’t mind so much except they try to talk to me at design events as if their opinion on the industry or my work and career counts more.

They are wonderful human beings except for the ones that are maniacal, self-delusional freaks, but I’m thankful for one thing: I’m not their spouse, hard at work in a full-time job, seeing a status update on Facebook that says, "Went to the pool today and had too many Margaritas while pondering my next design. Maybe I’ll do a best-selling children’s book!"

What Earns the Title of "Designer"?

Discussions seem to always point to how busy a designer is — or rather, in a cruelty filled cat-scratch with a ring of truth — how not busy they are and why.

Everyone is a designer these days. Many blame it on the personal home computer. With Microsoft Word, anyone who can create a garage sale flier or announcement for a child’s birthday party is a "designer." Some argue they are just not a "professional" designer.

What is the distinction and what does it really matter? In my mind, there are many factors.

You are probably a designer if:

  • You are the weird kid who drew in your schoolbooks while other kids studied hard and told the teacher you weren’t working.
  • You make a living, or at least a good part of it (the economy being what it is), from design.
  • Peers treat you like a professional.
  • You’re somewhere on the first page of Google for something you designed.
  • Relatives demand you do a logo for their new business and you wish lightening would strike you dead right there at the dinner table.
  • You want to strangle people for offering you $50 to design a website for them.
  • You worry about a client paying so you can make the rent and eat.
  • You bitch about having to pay the outrageous price of some design publications.
  • You get angry and call the people in the design magazines "overrated hacks."
  • You consider wearing a hook and eye patch from all the design software you have to pirate.
  • You know the difference between RGB and CMYK and know they are not TV stations.
  • You think crowdsourcing and design contests are eroding the industry.
  • You swear your kids will never go to art school!
  • You are starting to see a point to this article.

You probably are just playing at being a designer if:

  • You were the kid telling on the kid drawing in his/her schoolbooks.
  • When a relative asks you to do the logo for their business you get excited and tweet to your 12 followers about it.
  • When you walk up to a group chatting at a design event, they roll their eyes, become very quiet and scatter quickly — while you are still in mid-sentence.
  • You are on the first page of Google only for being arrested or burning down your house by smoking in bed.
  • You get excited at $50 for designing a website.
  • Your spouse pays all the bills and you have no idea where the checkbook is kept, nor do you care.
  • You subscribe to every design magazine to put on the coffee table but never actually read them.
  • If you read the design magazines, you feel anxiety rising within you because you are jealous of the people in the publications.
  • You ask your spouse to buy the latest version of Adobe CS, 24 hours before it’s released and they do it just to shut you up.
  • You enroll your kids in every art class there is in town and go with them and yell about how their work is "sloppy" and "lazy" until they cry.
  • You think this article is mean and I’m an idiot.

Why the Distinction Matters

Almost daily, we deal with "design-by-committee" from those who feel we are too stupid to be able to do our jobs properly or they, by some thought process, are better due to the corporate pecking order.

Having other "designers" helping knock down our profession in the eyes of clients certainly doesn’t help. Have you ever heard a client offer a low fee and say, "our last designer did it for $50!" The next question should be, "Then why don’t you call him/her to do this project?" The answer would be he/she wasn’t any good.

Have you ever spoken with a client who wanted some spec work first to make sure you could do the work? That’s because the last "designer" screwed up. This is the fallout suffered by working professionals.

At the last Phoenix Design Week, a key speaker, Brian Singer, creative director and founder of Altitude Associates, a San Francisco based creative agency and the creator of The 1000 Journals Project (a global art experiment where journals are passed from hand to hand) made a statement about a design community and the ability to elevate it to epic proportions.

"The way you get ahead in design is by lifting up those around you," Singer said. Sound advice!

It also works the other way around; those around you lower design for you.

There are several professions that have such dilettantes attached. Actors, writers, even dancers, suffer from those who have no talent but push their way into the inner circles of those who do. Would American Idol be as entertaining if it didn’t start with the lame people who think they have singing talent?

While on the board of a top-level professional organization that had two membership levels — professionals, proven with portfolios and the signature of six members and associates who were involved in the arts in some supportive way — there was a question of unjuried shows. It seems some associate members wanted to show their work as well.

While almost all professional members flat out refused the idea of sullying the organization’s reputation, one board member imparted that they should be allowed to join in because the entire membership "might miss seeing some beautiful art."

Needless to say, there was no beautiful art to miss, except for future shows boycotted by professional members. What was left in the shows hurt the organization’s reputation.

See how it works?

Speaking Up

Too often, sitting in a client’s "approval committee," I see an art director beaten into submission by the "designers" in the crowd. When all the opinions are rendered, I turn to the art director and say, "you’re the art director, why don’t you condense all of these comments into the direction you want?"

I am always thanked for trying to bring them back some dignity. The fact is, they didn’t need to lose it.

There has to be enough confrontation to keep our future profitable. If it means scaring away the "wannabes" or correcting non-creatives who relegate designers to the bottom of the food chain, so be it.

If we don’t speak up, soon there will be nothing to say and we become nothing more than a pair of hands, moving things around the screen, smudged with greasy fingers as they point where the logo should be and what type of glitter type they want across the top.

Eventually, a designer will speak up when they are confronted with a failed campaign or branding and they can say, "that’s what you told me to do in committee!"

Find the guts to protect your profession. Even baby steps can help make work more pleasant.

We have to police ourselves in such matters. There is no union or organization to assure professionalism or those who wish to label themselves as "designers." You can either speak up and teach and elevate these people to a professional level or shame them into leaving and hope they will find something new to occupy their playtime.

Mentor art students so they join us in the profession as peers and not as detriments to the industry. Train young designers on your staff how to grow and succeed in the field. Open your mouth and tell those who sit on committees that their ideas, if they have no merit, are not in the best interest of the end user/consumer or final product.

Take back the dignity of having the special gift of being able to use creativity to solve visual problems.

Some handy responses:

  • Those are some interesting ideas. Let me condense them into a cohesive design solution.
  • The elements are balanced to draw in the eye and push it in a circular motion to keep the viewer where we want them to be. Making one element more important that the others will stop the eye and destroy the final message. (This will totally confuse non-designers and no one will be able to argue the point).
  • Why is it you feel I’m incompetent and can’t do the job for which I trained for many years? I was hired on the strength of my past work and only want the strongest solutions for this company’s successes.
  • It’s my job to give you the best visual solution. I can’t be held responsible if this solution is changed by other departments. Certainly you would feel the same way if I were to change the marketing or sales solutions. (This won’t work but they’ll admire your guts as you are escorted out of the building by security).

When it comes to individuals who want to play with the professionals, shun them until they go away and find another group who will let them play. Eventually, his/her spouse will tire of paying for software upgrades and magazine subscriptions.

A gentle way to convince creative dilettantes to stop ruining the industry:

  • Use gibberish in front of them and hope all the other designers join in, like, "I was using the glockenshlorp function on Photoshop and it worked great." (The dilettante will either be embarrassed and walk away or tout the virtues of the glockenshlorp).
  • Say, "I’m sorry, but you need to do at least one design within ten years to be part of this discussion."
  • Just point and laugh at the person until they cry and run away.

There is the dream and then there is the reality. In the dream, someone else is paying your bills no matter how much work you do or don’t do. In reality, you get hungry and homeless from not working and earning enough. Think about that when the make-believe designers tell you how to make your designs better.

Related Content

About the Author

Speider Schneider has designed for Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., Harley-Davidson, ESPN, Mattel, DC and Marvel Comics, LucasFilms, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon among other notable companies. He also speaks at art schools across the United States on business and professional practices. Stalk him on Twitter @speider.

111 Comments

patvillaruz

March 17th, 2011

will… other topic are true.. others are not true.. but its good to know who you are…

Thanks for this.. :)

Todd Halfpenny

March 17th, 2011

So you pirate software? Aren’t you super professional!

Speaking as a developer you’re not only eroding my industry you’re stealing from it… actually you’re coming into my home and taking the meal off my table, a meal I spent all week working hard to buy.

Alex

March 17th, 2011

YESSSSSSSSS! LOVE IT!

great article, realy good and fun to read.
It was if i was saying it myself, totaly share the same thoughts on this matter.

It kinda fits a project i’m working on at the moment. It’s a series of posters and the project name is “The So Called”..

I wonder how many “Designers” comment on this post :O Ohh, maybe it’s me! :P No i designed 2 websites this week and started to develop 1 for clients at my job, so i think i’m a real designer :)

Kamil

March 17th, 2011

Haha, good article ;)
Although points “you’re probably a designer…” and “you’re just playing at being a designer…” are telling me that I am (probably) a designer, while I’m certainly not ;)

cheers!

Ben

March 17th, 2011

The industry is being over-run by these self proclaimed designers and web designers alike.

Good article.

Mahmoud

March 17th, 2011

Great article.

And I guess I qualify as a designer ^_^

rajasegar

March 17th, 2011

Great article, Speider, thanks for sharing….
I liked every bit of it except “glockenshlorp”, I am trying hard to pronounce it, can someone help me… ha ha

Curtis Scott

March 17th, 2011

Good read!

“You are the weird kid who drew in your schoolbooks while other kids studied hard and told the teacher you weren’t working.”

… and my teachers thought it was all a waste of time. ;)

Nathan

March 17th, 2011

This article reeks of personal bias and non professionalism. I’m a fan of the topic, just not the way you present it.

Jen

March 17th, 2011

There is nothing more frustrating than having something you work on painfully ripped apart by people who all fancy themselves “designers” and have no idea what it takes.

I never understand why if the people who ask me for websites are so good at it… then why do they need me?

Alex

March 17th, 2011

“If you read the design magazines, you feel anxiety rising within you because you are jealous of the people in the publications.”

“You get excited at $50 for designing a website.”

“When a relative asks you to do the logo for their business you get excited and tweet to your 12 followers about it.”

I’m a long time follower of this blog and hell, I’ve learnt a lot. I left school when I was 16 and had been what you would describe as “playing at being a designer” but over the last 6 years I’ve had numerous large projects that I’ve pulled off with success, taught myself no less than 5 programming and markup languages and landed myself jobs in agencies, as a freelancer and as an in house designer.

If i could have afforded it I would have gone to college/university but I couldn’t and I had no one to finance me even if I could. I’m rather proud of the fact that I managed to drag myself up from the bottom and make something out of what started as a hobby although it wasn’t easy at all.

I still get chills when I’m looking at the work of the greats but I also realize that I am holding down a successful career in the industry at the moment, despite there being a rather large recession in place at the moment, that this is an industry where you never stop learning and try to learn as much as possible.

I also realize that there are going to be a tonne of people that were in my position and are looking to try and teach themselves a trade in this recently highly accessible industry. These people are going to be looking at the quotes I’ve picked out above and thinking sh*t I fit in to those. I think the post you just wrote is very harmful to the morale and vigor it takes to get started, especially to those at a disadvantage and I also believe that any bad designer can become a good one with time and practice.

Tom Ross

March 17th, 2011

Some good points raised here, although despite the tongue in cheek approach it comes off as a little bitter. I generally just try to surround myself with proper designers, and therefore don’t have to put up with the fakers.

Brad

March 17th, 2011

I’m a young designer finishing up school and just getting my foot in the door as far as the industry is concerned but I’m already able to see everything you’re talking about. I’ve been called brash and slightly idealistic for speaking up and defending my choice of profession. I’m glad to see I’m not alone!

Speider Schneider

March 17th, 2011

Alex, I think you are not getting the main point of the article, but I understand your concern and feelings. Please read the following article and tell me how you feel about yourself afterwards. I think it’ll really pump you up!

http://www.processedidentity.com/article/do-you-really-want-to-be-a-design-rock-star/

Jacob Gube

March 17th, 2011

@Alex: You’ve stated something that I was fearing would be a misinterpretation of the point of this article.

I think a bad designer willing to learn WILL become better. I think a person just starting out, acknowledging their need to be better, is on the right track. This post, though, is aimed at those disillusioned that think they’re designers, that they’re already there. I have worked as a designer and a developer for close to 10 years, and I know have no disillusion that I’m not quite there yet. Every day, I learn something new, even on the weekends. I have no doubt that there are many, many developers and designers out there with much greater skill than me.

Yet, some believe that they can skip all the experience, hardship and learning and automatically classify themselves with you and me; and that hurts us as a whole because our employers — not in the know of the situation on the ground level — are starting to believe them. A great example is the anecdote above where non-designers wanted to share their work to the group and it resulted in a fallout. It seems they think that, “Meh, it’s not that hard to be a designer, I can do it too with no work at all!”

If you’re reading this post, on a website about web design and web development, that means you care enough about your craft to invest your time in self-motivated learning.

Thus, you, the readers, are not the problem; you’re the prototype of the solution.

James

March 17th, 2011

I think Margaret Thatcher’s qoute on being a lady fits here. It was something like:

“Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you arent.”

For lady read designer.

Chow

March 17th, 2011

Nice Article, But”You swear your kids will never go to art school!” ?????
why not if you love what you do?

Tom Leith

March 17th, 2011

So Speider, I try to know my limitations — how should I score myself on the “you might be a designer if…” list? I mean, do I have to hit them all? Maybe I should net them against the “You’re not a designer if…” list ;-)

> We have to police ourselves in such matters. There
> is no union or organization to assure professionalism
> or those who wish to label themselves as “designers.”

The historical organizations that assured professionalism, mentored newbies, controlled (not eliminated) competition and generally chased dilettantes away were called “guilds”. Some of the construction trade unions today still exhibit some guild-like behavior, but the big “industrial” unions don’t. Guilds had the recognition of law much as lawyers, doctors, & cosmetologists(!) do today. I think a widespread revival of the notion of the Guild would be a Good Thing.

Speider Schneider

March 17th, 2011

Well said, Jacob! As a professional, we are ALWAYS learning because we understand we need to grow as professionals. The wanna-be believes they are there with little or no dedication to their craft.

Some comments believe this is too tongue-in-cheek. Some see it as mean and bias. I value and support all opinions. The problem, in the end, is that unprofessional people, touting their professional standing in a field that is unregulated, become a burden to those who must make a living each and every day while repairing the damage of those who sour clients to the very word, “designer.”

And, no, I don’t pirate software. Bad joke. Sorry! One should always pay for and register their software. The joke was intended to show how difficult it is to make a living and pay for software when wanna-bes help cut our pay rates.

Chana

March 17th, 2011

Bravo Speider! Enjoyed every bit. It really hit the nail on the head. Thanks.

Kristelle Toulgoat-Dubois

March 17th, 2011

This article is SO TRUE. I’ve dealt every single one of those situations. One of my most recent encounter with these was a guy who approached my business partner, asking him to design a “simple little blog” for him. When he showed us the example for what he wanted (turns out it was a full custom 10 pages site with wordpress as a cms) my partner very professionally began to ask him more questions about what he wanted, and explained that what he wanted would take a bit longer and be a bit costlier than a simple “blog banner design”. The guy saw him a week later and said that he’d be working with another designer, a “professional in this industry”, who would do the site for close to nothing in exchange for a membership to his new gym. Sounds very professional to me. Anyways, the guy came back to my partner a few days later, telling him he’d just tried to transfer his blog to his server and he’d messed it all up and asked him if he knew how to do any of this stuff and could help him out… I wonder where his “$50 website design professional” went. But we have to respectfully and professionally stand up to these people. It doesn’t make any business sense for us to work with them and it hurts the industry/other designers we are working so hard to protect. I’m glad there’s articles like this, when I first got out of design school, I wasn’t really aware of all the snakes out there and got trapped into these awful situations a few times. But I learned really quickly and now I am constantly working to protect our field. Speider, you are awesome for writing this and I will stalk you on twitter.

Pontus

March 17th, 2011

I agree with Alex.

I mean, what the fuck?

Marty

March 17th, 2011

Truly awful article. Written from a biased and bitter point-of-view. I’ve been in this industry for nearly 15 years and from my experience, these so-called non-designers don’t last long and the type of client that would hire them you don’t want anyway.

However, I’ve also worked with college educated and highly qualified individuals who, through their education and work history, have earned the right to call themselves designer, but are completely awful at what they do. Should we turn our backs to them or mentor them, guide them, train them to be better.

Nearly every single person that comes out of design school, or any college for any profession for that matter, knows only about a 10th of what they need to know in order to make it in this industry. I’ve know very few artists who are great right off the bat, but most think they know it all. It’s our job as industry veterans to no only put them in their place, but also continue their education so they can both support the high-quality of design we expect, and be the leaders in the industry when they take over from us.

I know I wouldn’t be where I am if someone hadn’t taken a chance and mentored me.

Get over it, and move on.

Simon Day

March 17th, 2011

Where do I start :p

I too was fed up with constant emails which all said pretty much the same thing “I want a site like ebay. I have a £100 budget”. The other beauty was “I want you to create a site where people can post messages or images, play games on the site and add all your friends. I don’t have any money but I’ll be charging people to use it and you’ll take a small share”. So they want facebook, won’t pay me but expect people to pay them to use it? /facepalm

The best thing I ever did was put my prices on my site and the time it will take. I am heavily into usability so I create numerous wireframes and visuals which are tested long before I start to write code. My sites take time but with bounce rates in single figures they work very well. I’ve being doing this for 14 years so I expect people to pay for my level of experience.

For the first few years I would accept the £50 sites but those days are long gone. I learnt pretty quickly that it is those very £50 jobs which you will ALWAYS spend the most hours on. If you’re good never belittle yourself and take on badly paid jobs, they will always cost you so much more than not doing them!

J. Jeffryes

March 17th, 2011

The UX industry is starting to fix this problem, because the internet means we can finally measure the ROI of good vs. bad design, and prove to the non-designers that actual talent and experience matters.

But it will take years for that to filter down to the rest of the design world. In the meantime all you can do is collect whatever evidence you can, and fight like hell for respect and compensation.

And totally tangential:

@Jacob Gube the word “disillusioned” means “without illusions”, you wanted to use the word “deluded” instead.

Our language needs policing just like design. ;)

Bea Litao

March 17th, 2011

Aww, I feel kind of guilty with this, but it’s a great eye-opener! I can’t call myself a designer yet since, heck, I can’t even design a proper portfolio for myself!

Sigh. I think the problem with me not being able to become the designer is from lack of enough motivation to do so.

But, thanks for posting this! Makes me want to re-think and re-do things in order to improve, and in order to officially call myself a designer.

Susanna K.

March 17th, 2011

“You are the weird kid who drew in your schoolbooks while other kids studied hard and told the teacher you weren’t working.”

Heh. I saved a lot of my old schoolbooks, particularly my Latin books, because I was so fond of the doodles in them. (The characters in the Latin books made for great comic strips.)

Kris S

March 17th, 2011

Tom, I couldn’t agree more. While this article may have a slight sensational tone to it, I feel I understand his perspective. I am leaving a job where I have dealt with non-designers who were higher on the pecking order, really fat finger the hell out of my work… or in some cases derail it. Having a Guild, may help to separate the wheat from the chaff.

On a side note… Design is a very coveted skill. If you are good at it, you immediately draw the attention and admiration of your piers. Management will identify you as being a thought leader and of good taste. This can really tick off the folks one step above you or on the same playing field(Watch out for the product guy). Once that sets in you can find yourself spending more time politicking than actually doing design work… Therein lies the death of passion and creativity.

I can not vouch for some of the bullying tactics suggested by the author. I have tried some, with little success… IMO Negativity breeds more negativity and eventually it will rub off on your character, or cause you to hate your profession. Personally I am getting pretty f’ing sick of dealing with the bullying type, be it boss or designer. For now I am making design my side dish and development my main. I foresee in the next 5 years getting out of the industry completely and opening a bike / coffee shop… or something along those lines. I am growing very tired of the childish behavior amongst grown professionals… I’ll find a way to make dough some other way.

Craig

March 17th, 2011

I agree with Nathan. This article is written very unprofessionally. You can put yourself in the category of wannabe writer. Like your article that comment is misjudged, rash and yet probably makes entertaining reading.
I thought this was making broad generalisations and your apprehension that this article might be taken the wrong way was on the mark. Alex too brought up a very good point, which you did address. I feel you misjudged the tone and contempt in what you had to say. You don’t need to be arrogant to be objective.

Cosmin Negoita

March 17th, 2011

This is true and sad. I have some mates that are calling themselves “designers”. But they think making crappy forum signatures by editing an image makes them a “designer”…

Jesse Rand

March 17th, 2011

Can’t help but feel like this article is just mean-spirited. I realize what you’re saying, plenty of valid points, but these “wannabes” you describe make up a large portion of aspiring designers. I really hope none of them read this and feel like they shouldn’t approach designers they look up to at networking events.

I’m all for the industry progressing and not regressing, but I also don’t want to see elitist attitudes permeate the design community.

Keep in mind that the ego’s of nearly all artists are both large and fragile, that’s why we need constant approval and back patting.

Then again maybe my arguement is mute since I’m only 25 and have only recently ascended to a “Lead Designer” position at an agency. I’ll need a couple more years of dealing with the pesky tools described above.

Justin Moore-Brown

March 17th, 2011

My God. This article is spot on. Thanks for the candidness and reminding us that there are others feeling and thinking the same way out there!

jetgirl

March 17th, 2011

Yep, having your design done by some rich kid with enough of daddies money to buy a mac and photoshop is the same as letting my 4 year old change the oil in your car. Then you wonder why your engine seizes halfway down the road.

Tyler Herman

March 17th, 2011

I don’t think amateur designers are really that much of a problem but clients and other people who want to contribute to the design process are really out of control. Maybe it is because their jobs are so terrible they want in on the fun (and make yours terrible in the process).

You really need a large pair of marbles to tell the people who are paying you “NO!” but it is the only way to get things done successfully. The more clients I work with and jobs I do the more I find this job is less about design and more about managing and dealing with people and the problems they cause.

mikesh

March 17th, 2011

this post is pathetic and makes me sad. that’s why i never refer too myself as designer. i hate the thought that i could be mixed up with guys who think / write stuff like this…

…yeah i get it; you are one top designer, congratulation and good luck

jcog

March 17th, 2011

Professional don’t used pirated software and your lame attempt to retract that statement is pathetic.

yoyo

March 17th, 2011

Stop complaining about others. Do the work.

nograde

March 17th, 2011

Compassion, and recognition of effort, instead of acknowledgement of successful execution is the reason your high-school art teacher never gave anyone who tried lower than a C. It is also the same reason the design industry sucks. You people complaining that this post was two bitter and harsh are either fortunate enough to have never experienced the industry problems this thread addresses, are offended because you are part of the cause of the problem, or naive enough to tread the design industry like an art class. If an engineer poorly designs a bridge, his/her bridge will fall down, people will die, he/she will loose his/her certification, and probably be put in jail. If a designer poorly executes a design, what are the repercussions? Clearly a chastising blog post is too harsh for their delicate hearts.

Sincerely,
A software developer who respects the design INDUSTRY.

Speider Schneider

March 17th, 2011

Thanks for all the comments and diverse opinions. Most comments on articles are back-patting and what is that worth to the thought an article should inspire and generate? It would be odd and boring if everyone agreed with the article.

Nick Hammond

March 17th, 2011

Could not agree more with all of the points made. And yes, I will definitely be rockin my eyepatch and hook. I’m glad somebody had the balls to come out with an article like this, it needed to be said!

John

March 17th, 2011

Been tring so hard r long to improve my creativity and coding abilities! But to no avail!
IMHO – becoming a designer much like an aatist is a birth right trait that mosst do not have. I envy those who have it. :)

spunkdesign

March 17th, 2011

I’d like to add one more to the “You are probably a designer if” list: you have thick skin. People whose feelings are easily hurt, probably the same people who are taking issue with the tone and message of this article, shouldn’t be designers. Not saying they don’t have the talent and experience, but this industry and its people can be brutal. As a designer, you absolutely must be able to take criticism, even if it’s not constructive, without whining about it. And this is a critical article. Deal with it. Maybe even decide to make yourself better like Bea Litao above.

I invite anyone who doesn’t care for Mr. Speider’s rather sardonic tone to read other articles he’s written. He might be kind of an @$$hole, but he always makes good, solid points in his writing. And they’re worth paying attention to, even if only to see the design industry from a perspective other than your own.

Aaron Moody

March 17th, 2011

Great post, I’m found myself agreeing with all of the points on the “you are a designer if…” section.

I hate it when a family member or friend needs a logo, I hate designing for them, even more than I hate designing for myself.

Kim Phillips

March 17th, 2011

Most designers don’t write that well but this was fun to read. Whenever a client threatens to buy Creative Suite and “do it themselves,” I always encourage it. They weren’t going to be a client much longer anyway, they’ll part with a few thousand dollars, spend their days fighting the learning curve, turn out some drek, then hire an agency and overpay some more. As I always like to say, nobody runs down to Accounting and tells THEM how to do it.

Jesse Kaufman

March 17th, 2011

I may not agree with everything in the post (though I do agree with the vast majority of it), but it was certainly an entertaining read! :) I’ve dealt with sooooo many people that PLAY designer in the last few years … it’s infuriating! they toot their own horn because they came up with a design that’s hideous, but they think looks more amazing than anything anyone else has ever come up with … but, i guess if that’s how they want to represent their company, more power to them … they’ll continue trying to make ends meet with $50 websites that they tweet incessantly about ;)

Remco Steenwijk

March 17th, 2011

I liked the intro, I stopped reading after:
“You’re somewhere on the first page of Google for something you designed.”

Might be the time (23:15 here) and being lazy, might reread later, but that comment just makes no sense at all to me. Judging youre work, or worse, a colleague, by ratings on google. In my opinion, that is just sad.

Michael C

March 17th, 2011

I’m a developer, and I must say I agree with you 100%. I hate it when my friends who are designers have their work ruined by people with no design experience or education. I try to stand up for them when I can, but, as you say, it’s up to the designers to stand up for themselves.

Sean

March 17th, 2011

In the words of Gordon Ramsey: this [article] is Spot On.

As to the pirated software issue – developers need to get over it. When you charge $2,500 for software that you’re going to charge $2,500 more for an update a year later, you can suck it. Something’s wrong when the software costs more than the hardware it’s running on.

designercanbelame

March 17th, 2011

You need a better attitude, as do many designers. Nobody wants to work with somebody that thinks like this. It’s wrong in so many ways. Good luck.

Michael Tuck

March 17th, 2011

Growing up in the American South as I did, we learned a word early on that, unfortunately, has acquired a racial overtone. My family and I had no idea of those overtones, and we used it to describe the bank manager who looked down his nose at my mom when she came in with a loan application, the Avon lady who sashayed around our house and gave Mom backhanded compliments on how “quaint” and “tidy” things were, and the neighbor who filed a lawsuit to make some of us move because our less-than-stylish homes were bringing down his property values. The word is “uppity.” That’s the word that came to mind as I read this article. Never mind that you make some excellent points, the entire tone of the article reinforces the exclusionary “us vs. them,” “privileged vs. unwashed” mindset that so many designers (and members of any professional field) tend to have.

When I took my ignorant, amateur self to SitePoint with nothing but a rudimentary skill set and a superficial, mostly wrong set of conceptions about what did and didn’t constitute good design practices, I was welcomed, given plenty of advice, and made to feel part of the larger community, even if everyone else knew more than I did about Web design. Had I encountered the kind of attitude displayed in this article (and plenty of design forums and tutorials display just such an attitude), I doubt I would have stuck around long enough to learn anything about design; instead of eventually becoming a somewhat skilled semi-professional Web designer who, I would like to believe, has contributed something to the community in return, I would have taken up model-making, or cobbling, or some other avocation. The design world is filled with one-time “wannabes” who received the proper help at the proper time, stuck with it, and learned enough to make themselves useful and happy as designers, on whatever level they chose to achieve. Some few of them have even risen to the heights of the profession.

I fully understand that the design field, like any other creative or “crafty” profession, is plagued with just the kind of people you satirize. Some of them won’t do anything but plague the field. However, your exclusionary approach works to drive everyone off, including the ones who might develop into excellent designers in their own right.

You have the perfect right to express your feelings towards the “other” end of the design field as you choose, and I respect your right to do so. However, I won’t join you in those feelings. The air in the world you inhabit is a bit too rarefied for me.

cre8ivetype

March 17th, 2011

It’s great that you have another avenue for your brilliant commentaries and fabulous insights.

Love it!!

ArleyM

March 17th, 2011

Nursing students at the college where I got my Graphic Design education will get a web design class. These jokers will go on to sell their services and be confident in their abilities to make websites; even though they’re absolute garbage.

I had the pleasure of grading some of these. Yellow Comic Sans unironically over a tiled background animated gif of smoke coming off a bong. No joke.

Dan

March 17th, 2011

“It’s my job to give you the best visual solution. … This won’t work but they’ll admire your guts as you are escorted out of the building by security”

I laughed so hard, then I cried thinking of my 8 hours of meetings tomorrow and 4 hours of design-time. Haha. Sigh.

TheKoolDots

March 17th, 2011

Wow, who let the dogs outs?

eric|von|leckband

March 18th, 2011

Really enjoyed the article.

This is something that I deal with on a daily basis, clients and employers thinking they can get something great for almost nothing. This may come from the lack of knowledge or an understanding on the time and skill needed to create great solutions. As a professional it is sometimes hard not to get a bit bitter and frustrated.

Gadizmo

March 18th, 2011

“They are wonderful human beings except for the ones that are maniacal, self-delusional freaks”

You mean, like you? Your article reads like you are one of the very people you are criticizing. Sadly, you didn’t notice the irony.

BTW, you sir, are not a good writer. You “are just playing at being a writer.” So, take some of your own advice and leave the writing to the writers and go draw something.

paceaux

March 18th, 2011

I like what you’ve written. When I first got started in the web industry about four years ago as a content producer, I really was ready and willing to call myself a designer to anyone who didn’t know better.

It took me interacting with a lot of incredibly talented people who didn’t claim the title Web Designer to realize that I, and many others were abusing the title. I had thought my boss was a web designer until he explained to me that he was, “just a marketing guy who was really good with code.” My boss, who had designed numerous website, actually asked to hire, “a real web designer” – so that he could learn from them.

Using Photoshop for a flyer doesn’t make you a graphic designer any more than customizing a myspace makes you a web developer. what’s upsetting is that Web Design and Development can be done by anyone – without any sort of training. Anyone with zero to marginal experience can claim the title without any clue of how much is really in web design. Once i grew up and realized how much I didn’t know, I stopped telling people I was a designer. And now I correct the people that work for me when they call me one.

JvZ

March 18th, 2011

You Got a point there, but I really don’t like the overall negativity in your article. It made me stop reading halfway.

Lisa

March 18th, 2011

Jacob Gube’s point of view would be my idea on these topics!

Casting spells on everyone isn’t going to do much good. Healthy competition is meant to make you better and give a chance to new comers to try to stand on their feet, learn and become better, mature, share experience and knowledge with the next ones etc. It might sound ideal but it is a good point to start…

Jeff

March 18th, 2011

“Lightening” only kills people in the event of starvation. Har har. Lightning, on the other hand, strikes people dead reasonably often.

Lowly Developer

March 18th, 2011

Take this article, multiply by a thousand and you have the IT industry. Everyone wants to be a “hacker”.

Johann Smith

March 18th, 2011

Thanks for a great article. I’m by no means a designer or a play designer but I do follow the industry incl sixrevisions and persons like JG.

Friends of mine who are professional (nicely paid) designers in agencies and freelance always comments/converse about you’ve said.

Keep up the good work and the scales will tip in favour of the professional designers league, for those climbing the ladder, good luck and keep at it.

nopirate

March 18th, 2011

to pirate software is no joke. you’re hurting other professionals, and one of our problems because we have to lower prices to compete with kids who stay at home behind a template website with ripped work, don’t pay taxes, office costs, accountant, software, etc, and serve no other purpose than for our clients to point there and say: “see this guy charges half of what you do, why can’t you cut those 20% I am asking?”

GracieZG

March 18th, 2011

You are a real designer if you understand copyright laws and abide by them, knowing that piracy is a very slippery slope.

You are a real designer when you recognize private property, and understand that if you steal software, you lower the bar, and set the precedent that it is okay for anyone to steal your art.

J-bone

March 18th, 2011

While I agree with several of your points, they could have been presented in a more mature fashion. Don’t drive drunk and don’t write mad.

yabo

March 18th, 2011

Now you know how application developers feel when web designers pass themselves off as “wannabe” developers. ;)

But I get your points and can relate. Especially when it comes to crowd/out sourcing at slave labor wages. The companies and web sites that push this, hurt and waste everyone’s time in all aspects of IT.

Josh

March 18th, 2011

So, to be a paragon of professional design, you should:

>Attempt to confuse or intimidate anyone who challenges your designs so you don’t have to listen to them.
>Mock anyone who is not an established designer already.
>Cultivate paranoia of being unappreciated.
>Not have any money.

You should not:

>Attain financial security.
>(Related) Take a $50 job, even for a family member; it’s beneath you.
>Help anyone learn to design. (They’re just dragging you down.)
>Acknowledge any publicized accomplishments of others.

“Tongue-in-cheek” doesn’t begin to cover the disrespect inflicted by this article, which is neither professional nor useful. This is a bitter rant by someone who feels unappreciated & is struggling in the design world, encouraging others to adopt an elitist mindset to justify their own.

I sincerely hope that you can find an employer who’s willing to put up with your attitude that everyone who isn’t a starving artist is a mouth-breathing imbecile, and that you find some comfort in dubbing yourself “a true designer.”

nancy crell

March 18th, 2011

How Wannabe Designers Burden the Profession http://t.co/dU0lSbb via @sixrevisions

As a Graphic Designer, Art Director, and Photo Stylist, I have been a part of the design community for over 25 years. There’s a fine line between humility and thinking you know it all. I agree, the learning never stops and once we think we know it all, we cease to be good designers. Bad design is bad design no matter how you package it. Once it is accepted as ‘good enough’, the design community is certainly dummied down, and proper compensation goes down along with it.

Excellence in design cannot be achieved without paying attention to changing trends and constant ‘re education’ of the eye. Those who are not taught this in design school, or more importantly at their places of employment, are at a disadvantage. We all know when a design looks ‘dated’—bad choices in typography are a testament to that, and I find that many ‘beginning’ designers out there don’t have a clue as to the importance of this. It takes years to become adept in type design, but I believe that upholding higher standards begins with good training in school—the ‘real’ training takes place with time and experience.

Surrounding ourselves with professionals in the field is a must, and having a mentor is priceless. I was lucky to have landed my first job with a mentor who’s words still ring in my ears so many years later. Most beginner designers fall in love with their first idea and don’t take the time to develop it. Just as a writer doesn’t necessarily publish their first draft, a graphic designer doesn’t print their first idea. That is why having a mentor is a blessing. A good mentor does not bash the ideas of beginner designers, but rather takes ‘their’ idea and helps them to make it work. This method taught me not only how to design my way to a graphic solution, but more importantly, how to think my way to an effective graphic solution. Every time we do this, we grow, and it is the mastery of this process that makes us professionals.

This is an important lesson because as designers, we find that for many of us, there is a need and/or desire to cross into other areas of design at some point during our careers. We become students once again but this time, we have the benefit of already having the design experience in our bones. It is important to remember we are not only in a new place in our careers, but in life as well and we begin to seek out others who are already living it. Just as we first entered the world of design and became a part of the design community, we find ourselves going through the same process once again.

My career path has led me to interior design, I look towards those who have been doing this a long time, and that is who I surround myself with. As I enter the field of interior designers and assimilate into their world, the learning process begins to unfold. The lessons are always the same—your first idea isn’t necessarily your best idea so get in the habit of taking it to the next level. And… If you want to be a great designer, go where the great designers are.

Speider Schneider

March 18th, 2011

Just to reiterate a point I made in a comment far up the thread, I was joking about pirating software. It was meant to highlight that lower rates don’t allow professionals the funds to buy software. Some people didn’t see the humor in it but that was irresponsible writing on my part. You should never pirate software. You should also never “source” copyrighted photos, copy someone else’s design,use fonts you don’t own, make false claims about your experience and a few more things I won’t blather on about.

Basically…be honest! That is yet another sign of a true professional.

Todd

March 18th, 2011

Loved the article.

sarah

March 18th, 2011

I thoroughly enjoyed this article. Thank you, Speider Schneider, for a laugh with a serious point, and yet another reminder that I’m not alone in my frustration.

To everyone who thought it mean-spirited… perhaps you’re not daily working in the industry. I know if I weren’t I would probably have the same thought, but after dealing with all of the above day in and day out you become a little jaded. Or maybe it’s strong for certain fields of design… but I am a print designer. I have spent the last 5 years of my life fixing crap sent “camera-ready” by “designers.” The saddest part of this is many of them actually have degrees, and ad agencies can sometimes be the worst. (This, I believe, may have something to do with the reference to art school).

Like Alex… I did not attend art school and am self-taught. I tried going to school and it was a complete waste of time (there are good schools I’m sure, just not around here). But Jacob Gube’s comment couldn’t have been said any better. The problem lies with the wannabes’ – not those who are learning. the definition of a wannabe is “a person who tries to be like someone else or to fit in with a particular group of people.” Being a “designer” isn’t the point. It’s the dudes that think they’ve got it all figured out this article is referring to.

Also, I recognized the pirating comment as a joke and nothing more. You could put it under the “playing at being a designer” category but then it would be true and therefore less funny. All of us who actually do this for a living purchase our software, obviously. He’s making a crack at the ungodly sums of money we have to shell out for everything… and didn’t even mention hardware! (I’m still irked about the PowerPC – Intel deal).

Spunkdesign is also correct about thick skin. If you can’t handle criticism you’re in the wrong field.

slabounty

March 18th, 2011

I think I understand why you might be starving after reading this article. If you’re a true professional, in any field, you need to be able to explain what you did and why in layman’s terms. Instead of BSing them with made up reasons (“The elements are balanced to draw in the eye and push it in a circular motion to keep the viewer where we want them to be. Making one element more important that the others will stop the eye and destroy the final message.”) explain to them why you did things.

In short, lose the attitude and you may find more customers willing to pay you decent wages.

Erin

March 18th, 2011

While I am not a designer, I contract them on a regular basis. Speider Schneider is the exact type of designer I would NOT hire. While a designer may know the principles of design, marketers understand sales goals and mentality of their clients. Both designers and marketers need to keep a respectfully open mind to create a strong collaboration.

If I were to say in a forum such as this in my industry “my clients just don’t understand” or “my competition is sub par and I am too good to be lumped together with them,” I would lose ever client I have. It is rude and unprofessional. If your clients don’t understand, educate them. If your competition is weak, differentiate yourself. Then again, that’s a marketers job – a designer wouldn’t understand.

GracieZG

March 18th, 2011

Speider Schneider, good on further clarifying the pirating thing, thanks.

Everyone’s point about thick skin is good. My husband and I, who have our own business, joke about the fact that, presented with three designs, the client will usually choose the one we like the least.

And yes, I have occasionally found myself feeling like “nothing more than a pair of hands, moving things around the screen, smudged with greasy fingers as they point where the logo should be and what type of glitter type they want across the top.” That was funny.

Just one client like that. But oh, she sends me the leads! I just have to step back every so often and collect myself, and step back in and “give her the glitter type” — though I have also learned to present a reasoned argument for my design, and she is appreciating it more and more.

Nik

March 18th, 2011

Hmmm you’re probably not a designer if you spend more time downloading vectors, brushes or fonts than actually using them.

Joshua Rapp

March 18th, 2011

Well done sir. Being a freelancer is a lot of work and dedication, which at times may seem as if you’re slipping into some sort of madness, but the reward is worth it.

It only becomes more ‘interesting’ when there are small children involved. I am now a master of mutli-tasking under pressure.

Speider Schneider

March 18th, 2011

While I don’t want to step on anyone’s opinion on this article or assumptions about me and my career), I do want to comment upon @Erin, as she represents a unique point of view from someone who works with designers.

Erin, the most important thing in any product, be it print or digital, is the final product and how effective it is with the end user. Perhaps I should have added to the “professional” category; “can dissect the marketing and sales information, taking into consideration the demographics of the end user, and creating a product which is a balance of color, type and elements to present the message in the best light.

As I wrote in another article… http://tinyurl.com/47c2lge “Creative Vs. Marketing,” marketing and creative should work in tandem to create the message with BOTH parties playing their roles and using their strengths. Now, with that said, let’s hear from designers on marketing’s input in “design-by-committee.”

You state, “a designer wouldn’t understand.” Well, that is the problem. Designers are seen as children playing in the creative sandbox and marketing is the stern parent that needs to keep us in line and wipe our dirty bottoms. Again, instead of me going on about experiences with design direction from non-creatives without knowledge of the principles that evoke emotion and action in the end user, let’s hear from the readers. My opinion has already been written here…http://tinyurl.com/2fkwofx – “Why Design-By-Committee Should Die!”

In the meantime, please don’t hire me. There’s not enough money in the world for me to put up with your attitude towards designers. When you say “collaboration, you really mean, “listen to me because you aren’t smart enough to know how to reach the demographic of our target.” BAH!

David

March 18th, 2011

1 thing that is very important to a professional designer is the ability to use the spell checker. You evidently do not know how to do this. “Lightning” does not have an “e” in it. How professional is that?

I clicked on the link to this page to read an insightful article on the state of the industry. I did not do it to read your personal gripe session. Some of the people you complain about will learn and grow in their children field. This happens in most professions. Get over yourself!

Marios

March 18th, 2011

I guess my question is Why do you care about Wannabe designers? they do nothing to me, they are worthless, they are just like the knockoffs. You want the original you pay for the original you want fake you pay for fake.

Dennis Erny

March 18th, 2011

Fantastic article. Unlike a few others, I loved the tongue-in-check slant. A quick glance of some of the comments affirms my view that there are WAY to many people in this industry that take themselves WAY too seriously. Lighten up folks…

Nicole

March 18th, 2011

Great article! Being a part of a web design team I can definately relate to the frustrations one can experience when faced with wannabe designers.

While I have the utmost respect for those starting out and skilling up, I cringe when in the company of pretenders. There is a difference . . . and you will see it!

The company I currently work for has decided it would be a fantastic idea to re-employ a ‘designer’ who worked there 10 years ago, to head up the creative team!!! This after the head of marketing couldn’t hack it! The new manager / CD has been selling houses for the past how many years and thinks an enquiry form is a mailto link!!!!!

Needless to say my screen is like a crime scene (in more ways than just the presence of her wannabe prints!).

This is a terrible example of someone who know’s absolutely nothing about the industry (anymore) trying to run the show.

To comment on what Erin in Marketing contributed; firstly from your tone it’s quite clear that you view designers merely as a set of tools to accomplish the task at hand,

. . .’I contract them on a regular basis’ – ‘While a designer may know the principles of design, marketers understand sales goals and mentality of their clients.’. . .

Many marketing campaigns appear to be committee driven; if it’s ‘strong collaboration’ you’re after, why not lend a thought to the fact that design projects aren’t?

MOST marketers I have encountered have a seniority complex and are wannabe designers!

Thanks Speider . . .

brandon

March 18th, 2011

Wow, a bit bitter maybe. Anyway, I LOVE the free market. Any industry that is “over-run” is more like a person that is being out-dated. If you can’t keep up, you’re doing something wrong.

The cassette industry was over-run by CD manufacturers… and then those awful .mp3 people arggghhh…

Anyhow, thanks for taking the time to write the article. And Jacob, thanks for the time you take here, as always.

B

jamie

March 18th, 2011

I don’t think any self respecting designer would pirate design software. You should call yourself a designer if you get annoyed by all the people trying to steal your work. So if it is okay to pirate software, you won’t mind when I steal your design and not pay you for it.

Stephen Kistner

March 19th, 2011

Thanks for this! I always enjoy reading articles about “designers” that pollute the industry and seeing how others deal with the problem. On another note, is it okay if I was the weird kid who drew in his schoolbooks WHILE studying hard?

Speider Schneider

March 19th, 2011

@jamie…I realize there are a lot of comments here and you probably didn’t catch the two where I explained it was a joke. Again, one should never pirate software, fonts or ships off Somalia.

Speider Schneider

March 19th, 2011

@David – Sure, there was one typo. Several more and this could have appeared on CNN.com, FOX.com or BBC.com ;) BTW…always spell a number under ten and don’t use “1″ as in “1 more thing.”

Thanks for reading and noticing. It’ll be corrected on my blog.

christi

March 19th, 2011

Great Article!!! I don’t know why so many are angered. Any designer can relate to this. @Nicole, I agree, I’ve found most marketing professionals are wannabe designers and I especially love when they do their mockups in Microsoft Word and would like you to just recreate in photoshop.

Aardvarked

March 19th, 2011

Extremely bitter article, seek psychological help.

David Leggett

March 20th, 2011

There’s will always be entry level designers. Many of them grow to be phenomenal workers. Some of the best don’t seem to pay any attention to the profession as a whole.

Don’t let this post deter you from continuing your efforts if you feel like you ended up in the “wannabe designer” category.

Speider Schneider

March 20th, 2011

@Aardvarked – You mean with all the people who tweeted, liked and reposted this article? Not enough therapists to go around! ;)

Speider Schneider

March 20th, 2011

@David – the funny thing I that I never said beginners are “wanna-bes.” Everyone has to start at the beginning and grow. Wanna-bes don’t grow as designers or professionals and that’s the point of this article.

A friend of mine comments how he refers to wanna-be’s as “hobbyists.” A good insight! Hobbyists don’t need to make a living at design nor are they bound by our professional practices. There are many creative fields that suffer from this problem.

If someone beginning in the design industry has been put off by this article, please don’t feel deterred. Use it as a warning/lesson in how to strengthen your business and ability to become a professional and actually make a living,despite whatever setbacks may pop up…and there will be plenty. While there are many comments opposed to this article, there are many, many more that applaud and echo it. Best to learn from those who have experienced the problems.

Billy G. Bucktooth

March 21st, 2011

Mr. Spider: Do you drive something like a Hummer, and live far beyond your means whilst making people around you miserable?

Sure sounds like it.

Ped

March 21st, 2011

Great article, well said! It was ever thus…

At the end of the day though, if the client doesn’t like the colour green, it won’t be green. As designers we can only push our point of view so far. But we should still make the effort to argue our case.

Speider Schneider

March 21st, 2011

@Billy G. – Not at all! I don’t drive a Hummer.

Strixy

March 21st, 2011

Speider, Jacob… I’m not sure where this…

“You’ve stated something that I was fearing would be a misinterpretation of the point of this article.”

… doesn’t immediately lead to a seventh revision?

The second half of the article was helpful, productive and enjoyable. That first half could have been dropped completely. It was too narrow, repetitive, mean spirited and unclear. It needed to be shorter, funnier and it could have provided structure for the second half.

It reads like someone had an idea for a cool title, a couple of half finished posts, and someone made a last minute push to try and mash the three together.

not from FIT

March 21st, 2011

you guys seem to be mainly concerned with graphic designers. You should try dealing with the wannabe fashion designers,
oh i can design even if cannot draw but i like to shop and the jersey shore characters + Kardashians are iconic
Truth is you have to let it go and set yourself above/apart the mass of wannabes.
I’ve been around too long to let it bother me anymore.

Jim

March 21st, 2011

FTA: “Having other “designers” helping knock down our profession in the eyes of clients certainly doesn’t help. Have you ever heard a client offer a low fee and say, “our last designer did it for $50!” The next question should be, “Then why don’t you call him/her to do this project?” The answer would be he/she wasn’t any good.”

1. (reasonable) clients don’t keep “wannabe designers.”
2. (reasonable) clients will pay more for quality.
3. imo, the Dunning-Kruger effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect) is the true burden.

Will Richards

March 21st, 2011

This is how I see it.

(1) If a person has been formally educated (college or university) in art/design (holds a degree)

… and/or …

(2) Performs art/design duties on a weekly basis as a professional (corporate/agency/freelance) for $$$

… if this person has (1), (2), or both (1) and (2), then that person is a “designer”. It really is that simple in my mind. I also have an engineering degree, and that alone without the professional experience (which I also have) makes me an “engineer”.

Design (as Engineering) is a discipline. Critical thinking, models, tools, awareness, and processes obtained (by the designer/engineer) in order to solve creative and/or complex problems for themselves or others.

Some of the best designers I have met (not all of course) didn’t have degrees. But there portfolio was sick! Does there lack of education make them a non-designer … a “wannabe”? Of course not.

Does the heavily educated designer more concerned with usability than creativity not deserve the title of designer? Of course.

So whether the person has a Masters in Design or is the local kid with mad design and illustration skills who makes a ton of money creating snow board graphics, both are “designers” and should be treated with respect.

The term “wannabe” as used in this article comes across as elitist. And the tone is bitter IMHO.

I respect all designers and engineers, unless I am disrespected first of course. No high horse here. :)

James De Angelis

March 21st, 2011

What an absolutely awful article. Design writing has hit a new low.

pindari

March 21st, 2011

I showed this to my mom’s friend who’s been designing websites for like 20 years or whenever they were discovered. She uses a text editor and Photoshop version 4.

I had to print it out & show it to her because the only articles she reads are the ones with stuff like charts of css codes for text shadows or whatever is newer stuff she doesn’t know by heart yet.

My mom sent me to talk to her to get career advice & she told me 3 things:

1) Decide if I want to be a programmer or a designer, and if so what kind, or if I want to get rich.

2) My toughest competition should always be the last thing I did.

3) Whatever I pick, my goal should be to get as good at it as I can get, unless I decide I want to be rich. In that case I should either marry a rich dude or sell weapons and not waste time trying to be good at something.

Her favorite thing was the part about “the special gift of being able to use creativity to solve visual problems.”

She says she’s totally going to say that to the next asshat who tells her he wants a “site like amazon,” doesn’t really care what it looks like, and he’s sure she’ll be able to find programmers who will be grateful to do it for the experience.

tom

March 22nd, 2011

Wonderful summary of the worst type of pretentious, insecure, elitist designer (sorry, “Designer”).

The “special gift of being able to use creativity to solve visual problems”? Good lord, get over your own inflated sense of self. In most cases the person who hires you doesn’t want you to use your “special gifts” they want you to make a design that makes them happy.

When good work is being fucked up by an incompetent committee, the correct answer isn’t to say, I’m the artiste, I know better than you sad, non-artist wannabes. If you can’t demonstrate and convince people why what you’ve done is actually right and better – it probably isn’t.

I agree with the poster above, this is a new low for design writing.

Speider Schneider

March 22nd, 2011

The odd thing about many responses is they insert the question of having an art school education. Not once did I equate attending art school as a prerequisite of being a professional. I did attend art school and left after a couple of years because I had a great job for a major corporation and grew my skills over a decade. I went back to art school at night, merely for my degree (which some corporate entities find mandatory).

In such an emotional article, I am not surprised at passionate responses to the contrary and certainly the amount of personal attacks are expected, but when people read between the lines and come up with something that just wasn’t in print, then it crosses into a ridiculous.

A wanna-be is someone who does not have the talent to make a living at the field they target nor do they care to learn, grow and develop in that field. Those entering the field are beginning a journey and are open and hungry for growth. Those that are self trained and grow with experience are admirable for their struggle. It is the deluded individuals who believe anyone can be a designer by merely stating so and are enamored with the “glamour” they equate with the lifestyle of the industry that creates the problems so many comments have stated. If you read the entire article, without reaching the boiling point after the first paragraph, you will see those are the exact words written. Perhaps the humor threw some readers off. For the great majority, it didn’t.

Richard Ambrose

March 22nd, 2011

I found your article both entertaining and interesting. On the positive side my brother rang me up the next day asking me to design a website for free “I’ll do the database stuff, all you have to do is the design bit”. I turned him down and held on to my pride. He couldn’t undertsnad why.

Most people I can work with and a few I accept that I can’t. If I’m unable to stand my ground and justify my ideas to someone who has already decided they like my work then either
1) I’ve misinterpretted the brief – my fault
2) I’ve not given them good enough options – my fault
3) I’ve not picked up that the decision is likely to be though committee because the key decision maker is too scared.

Again my fault! Option 3 is probably best avoided in any profession. When this happens I am reminded of the quote: “Walk through all your parks and alll your cities, you’ll never find statues of committees”

sarah

March 22nd, 2011

@Will Richards – VERY well stated! But the article wasn’t directed at either – my personal opinion after reading, and because he clarifies in a later comment. I think you’ve done a great job defining a “designer” but I also think you are confusing wannabe’s and beginners. I never thought this article was directed at beginners, and to anyone who is reading this and happens to be one – go four comments up and read the points made by pindari – GREAT advice.

Bill

March 24th, 2011

You forgot the most important thing about designers, theres twice as much ego as there is skill.

mavcomm

March 28th, 2011

True! Professional designers unite. Technology has blurred the lines between paste-up and mechanical “artists” and true creative, graphic designers. Some people think that knowing how to use Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, or others turn them into designers. Don’t you just hate it when dedicated printing presses that offer “design” services and then farm these projects out at pro bono rates? Worse when amateurs even try to lecture on the subject of your specialization. Thanks for this post. Had been wanting to write about it.

Wise

April 4th, 2011

Nice article,

but now i’m kinda shamed to call myself a designer, at least i know liltle bit of CSS and HTML to call myself a web (designer)

Edvard

December 7th, 2013

This gave me a lots to think about! Thank you!

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to the comments on this article.