RAW Tuesdays: The Truth About Design Is........

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When I first started working in the "real world" of graphic design, I realized just how absolutely wrong I had been for the last five years or so. I had this ideal in my head of what my job would be like: Cute, artsy, modern furniture with an equally artsy and quirky coffee mug, all the while designing beautiful flyers and web banners all day long, spinning in my bright orange chair, and having the time of my life.

*record scratch*

Okay, so I didn't think to that extreme, but I did have a pretty high ideal of what it would be like. Of course my professors for the last five years have been telling me the harsh reality of being a designer over and over again but did I listen? No. I wanted to believe that I would get exactly what I wanted after college, which would be a fun job with decent pay.

Not that you can't find that after college, but more often than not, students fresh out of design school do not get to fulfill that wishful thinking. Why? Want to know the honest and brutal truth? Because there are designers that are a better fit for that fun, hip, and awesome company. Nobody wants to hear that of course, neither do I....but it's the truth. So does that mean we should all just throw in the towel to our design careers? Of course not. But what most of us designers don't realize is that we are not looking for that right 'fit'. We are simply looking for jobs--plain and simple.



These three components determine what job we will get or can get.....and honestly, many of us are afraid to take on a craptastic job with decent pay because something better might come along. I mention this because I feel that it's a unique mindset to designers in general. I rarely ever hear my engineering or accounting friends say "but something better might come along....". No, they take a job because it pays well for their field of knowledge. But designers, whether you're a fashion designer, interior designer, or special effects editor, generally have an 'ideal' of where they want to work. Let's face it, we are creative people. It's only fair for us to want to find a job that we will enjoy. But with so many creative jobs out there, why is it so hard to find that job for every designer?

Because it has to be the right FIT.

The truth about design is--it's always changing. It's always going to change you as a designer.

Think of your favorite music artist. Do they ever really stay the same? And although we may argue that the new Mariah Carey will never ever compare to the 90's Mariah Carey, she is still Mariah Carey. The music evolved and thus, so did she.

Designers are all really just walking and thinking 'brands'. We change our aesthetics accordingly. And like a musician, we like to change our looks to something that fits our current state of mind. But we're all unique and we all have something about us that makes us different. That doesn't mean we are all Paul Rands, Karl Lagerfelds, or David LaChapelles of our generation. We aren't all that special. But we are still unique as designers. We have our own identity. Even if we copy and steal ideas from other designers all the time, we still have an identity. And the hardest thing about being a designer is figuring out who you are and what that identity is. Super serious. It's soul crushing to not know your identity while trying to call yourself a designer.

In my opinion, I think some people get exactly where they want to be because they just happen to belong there. I'm sure that's the most bullshit answer you'll ever hear, but it's true. Call it luck if you want, or 'fate' to others, some people just find the right fit easily. For the rest of us though, it's a struggle and it requires a bit of trial and error. Going back to the point about finding a job, I think those of us who fear the 'craptastic job' should still take the job willingly. Because whether it's freelance or actual job, I've always thought that I didn't find the right 'fit', but I never regret taking on those jobs or clients because at the very least, I learned something from those 'craptastic' jobs. If you aren't learning something new, then maybe you really just need to search for something else, but designers are always changing and there is so much more out there than we think we know. Why not try things? Because quite honestly, some of us may never actually find that perfect 'fit'. Some of us may have to wait years, working at a job we'll hate until we find that right 'fit'. But the one thing I know for sure is that through every good and bad experience as a designer, I have come closer to finding out my identity. And honestly, that alone feels pretty damn good. Even if you don't find that fit, know your identity and what you love about being a designer.

Really, all of this is just me saying, "I FEEL YOU BRO." I've been there. I'm still there. I'm still struggling and still wondering what that 'fit' might be, but it's so so so easy to lose heart. It's so easy for creatives to throw in the towel and think, "well I'm just not a good designer...." and hell, maybe I'm really not that great of a designer but that doesn't mean I don't love design. Being a designer is not for everyone and it's definitely not easy. Once you find your identity, you have to still adapt to the ever changing design world. And some people just lose themselves completely because they are either afraid of change or embrace too much change. Designers need to find a balance--a harmony if you will, between the soul of the person they are and their personal branding. And once you achieve that harmony....well, I guess they call that 'happiness'.

I wanted to start a new segment on my blog called "RAW Tuesdays" (RAW: Ramblings After Work) to keep design fresh in my mind. I've neglected my own love for design for a long time now and working full time has mentally drained me. I'd get home from work around 7pm and mindlessly play rage inducing games of League of Legends and then be sad that I'd only have an hour left before bed. So I'm trying to be more proactive with my blog to keep my soul from slowly dying. Oh and in case any of my old readers are wondering what happened to the "365 days" project, shhhh.......you saw nothing.


  1. Girl, I feel you are speaking exactly what I feel! I couldn't put it in words better than you. The fantasy of being a designer was what I pictured as well... *le sigh* Why is that? Reality check! I definitely think it's all about being at the right place at the right time, to find that perfect fit. In the meanwhile, for those of us stuck in the not-so-ideal design jobs, we need to to get our creative outlet in our free time at home, otherwise we will go crazy. I'm glad that you are doing that with this blog! Even though I can imagine how tired you may be when you come home. For me, unfortunately I don't even get to do design at my job (in food service), because I'm still searching for any design job at all, so I really need to discipline myself to keep being creative in personal projects. It's nice to hear you write about the reality of a designer though. I need to keep that in mind when I finally get a design job.

    1. Yeah and honestly sometimes I think it's better to work a non design job than a design job I'll end up hating lol but that's the struggle I guess. I'm sure when you get your design job you'll feel the same way, unless you just happen to land a super sweet job you like which in that case, HALLELUJAH! And I hope that does happen lol but if it doesn't, just keep yourself motivated. I know I'd lose all my love for design if I weren't trying so damn hard to keep it alive. I'm hoping this blog will help me with that. :)

    2. Yeah so true, I been contemplating on whether to pursue more in web development because I actually have a love of coding as well. But I can't say anything until I try the design job route first. I still have to graduate school though, I took a break off this semester because all my classes were taken. Since you're working at a design firm now, I have to ask you - is a degree really important?? I feel like it's taking forever! Haha, but thanks again for sharing the realities of being a graphic designer .. I look forward to reading more of your blog entries!

    3. Hey Janis! I honestly feel like design school was........kinda 50/50 in terms of "was it worth it". In some ways, I feel that I could've just learned everything on my own (and really, you can....) in other ways, I feel like design school forced me to be a better designer.

      I was actually going to blog about this in a post lol because I know a lot of my friends ask me if design school was worth it, but I honestly feel like it depends on the person. I think if you can learn things on your own and not be distracted, you can totally just learn all the things you can learn in school on your own.

      But if you're like me, I needed that push because I was lazy. So design school helped me kind of define myself as a designer, if that makes any sense?

      Although I think if I could go back, I would've went to a university for design school instead of an actual design school because tuition is just way too high.