Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Graphic Designers Out the Wazhoo

In a recent article in the August 31st Business Week magazine the discussion of a glut of graphic designers is discussed. There is some disagreement on whether this is the case or not, but the problem that comes clear is that the quality of designers coming into the field is often suspect.

What's a bit scary is that these designers will get freelance jobs because there is a current increase of this type of work. The estimated 20,000 to 40,000 designer wannabes entering the field every year will influence not only the quality of design, but how the business community views the design field.

The problem stems from the promises and function of art schools and trade schools. Some of these schools promise employment doing a "fun" career tract like graphic design. While some promise more realistic goals, these potential students have expectations of an illustrious career doing something they may not have the talent to do. According to the article,

"Many course catalogs implicitly promise to prepare students for the job market. Indeed students and their parents believe that after two or four years of study a relatively rosy future awaits them and therefore pay off those hovering loans."

But the problem doesn't begin necessarily in the design or trade schools. The field of design is confusing to most average people. As stated in the article,

"Despite increased visibility and recognition in the press ... most students actually know very little about graphic design other than it pays better than fine art. A New York City high school guidance counselor consulted for this article admitted that she routinely sends her art students to art schools for "general art" rather than focused design because she does not understand the distinction. "I believe the student will figure out their major once in a program," she says. But inconsistent design curricula adds to confusion, and when counselors and students are not familiar with the field itself, they cannot make informed decisions about which schools to attend."

On the positive side the marketplace will weed out the truly professional from the novice or incompetent graduate. This happens in other fields as well. But in the meantime, it is important for businesses to understand that their selection of a designer can effect their image profoundly. So choose wisely.

AIGA can be of some help.

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