Monday, August 08, 2011
Can Anyone Be a Graphic Designer?
Photo credit: heyjude from morguefile.com
I recently read an informal survey of over 200 in-house designers about the future of graphic design. In it, the overall consensus is that graphic design will include more electronic delivery (web and on-screen) than print. However, print will become an important component of the overall design and brand messaging. In essence, you need print to drive electronic delivery, and better promote the brand than what electronic delivery can do alone.
Another interesting observation is that designers are being asked to multitask more than ever. Employers are seeking designers who can do print, web, and interactive more and more. This emphasizes the need for designers to always keep their skill sets honed and be constantly in learning mode. The problem is that employers are also having a harder time distinguishing web designers (visual front-end work) from web developers (technical back-end work). And are increasing expecting one designer to fulfill both roles — which is rarely the case when high-level programming and development are demanded along with great visual and brand-consistent results.
The client who doesn't respect the power of good design.
But one of the laments has been around since computers were first used for design. And that is the development of the client "who knows how to design." To be honest, there are employers and clients who do understand design. But the type of person they are describing is the person who has little respect for the power of good design. To them whipping up a flyer or brochure is an half-an-hour job that only requires fonts, pictures, and software — no talent necessary. They are hard to work with because they think it's easy, and they would do it themselves if they didn't have more important things to do.
These types of people are slow to pay, nic-pic every detail, and haggle over pricing. They make suggestions that have little to do with a good communication strategy, but more to do with visual decorating. And they don't respect the graphic designer's time, or individual talents. They only see designers as the hands that express the client's whims.
Design can't be done by anyone. Right?
That being said, is it false that anyone can do design? I would say that it is not false. Rather, it is true. Now, most designers would not agree with this statement. And I understand that. But, anyone can design. Anyone can paint. Anyone can play a piano. Anyone can construct a house. The question isn't whether a guy with a Dell computer can design a brochure. The question is whether that guy can produce effective results worth paying for.
Think about it. When you are on trial for some crime you didn't commit, do you want a lawyer who dabbles in law and has a nephew who watches CSI, or do you want a lawyer who has experience and a track record of good results? Seems pretty obvious. Also, would you pay money to listen to a kid bang on the piano, or to a talented maestro perform music with effortless beauty. Again, seems pretty obvious. So, why would you trust your business's visual reputation on a novice approach?
Yeah, anyone with a computer, software, fonts, and some know-how can produce design. But, it's a gamble whether that will help or hurt the business of the client or employer who feels this way. Just a thought.