Design Edge Magazine recently launched a new section on their website and invited my friend David Berman and I to be regular contributors. My column is called Design School Didn’t Tell You… and my first post, This industry will drive you crazy, is below:
The graphic design industry has driven me crazy.
OK, that might not be entirely true, but after more than two decades as a professional designer, I feel like there are so many more important topics to discuss other than whether I ‘like’ a logo redesign, what font so-and-so used, what the latest colour trends are, or what software or technology is superior, etc. And if I get into one more conversation about inspiration or see another circle “design process” diagram (Ooooooh! You do research too?), I think I might hurt somebody.
As I enter my 15th year of managing my own brand and communication design firm, the issues that keep me interested are things like how to identify and attract clients I actually enjoy collaborating with, how to create effective strategies and initiatives that create results for them, how to derive reward and happiness from my career, and of course how to make money while doing all of the above without feeling like an unethical sell out.
The communication design industry has been in a perpetual state of flux, more so the past decade than ever before, and design schools are pumping out more grads than there are jobs. With the intense competition these days, I’m so glad I’m not a design grad just starting my career. I’m not sure I could do it to be totally honest. So when I speak with young designers, many of whom seem to have been coddled and carry themselves with a sense of self-entitlement these days, I give them the straight goods if they ask.
So my plan for these posts will be to avoid theoretical rhetoric or the ubiquitous navel gazing I see too frequently among graphic designers, and tackle issues relating to what happens BEHIND design. Myths and motivations, tricks and shortcuts, practical tactics, and pragmatic issues that a communication designer may face at various times during their career. I’m known for strong opinions and a forthright — many say blunt — style, and my opinions will be my own and may rub some the wrong way, but that’s fine. Hopefully it sparks some intelligent discourse, and if I’m proven wrong, then I’ll admit it and we’ll all learn together.
I feel like if I was starting out again, I’d want to be told the truth so that I could turn it into a competitive advantage. An edge. And this publication is called Design EDGE, right? Right. So with these missives I plan to discuss issues that seem, to me anyway, to have been glossed over or skipped entirely by most design schools. I can’t guarantee that I have all the answers or that following my advice will work for everyone practicing design professionally, but I promise to tell the truth and provide some food for thought.
Hopefully together we can find ways to enjoy our design careers without going crazy.