Graphic design sucks Pt.1

Over the short, six-year history of my design studio I have often been asked “What do you do?” This question usually follows my own expression that “I work for a design studio” or “I own a design firm” or maybe “I am a communication designer.” Sometimes, I think I could avoid altogether the “What do I do?” by simply saying “I own a graphic design studio.” This never sits well for me or feels entirely comfortable either; the clients that we have developed brand positions for, or mediated their ideation sessions, or designed their brand identities would not recognize us if I said we were a graphic design studio. If I am honest with myself I don’t want to say I work in graphic design because I have come to the conclusion that graphic design is not considered a serious profession. 

There are many, many, far to many graphic designers minted from countless certificate programs, art schools, on-line courses, bachelor’s and associate programs. We are approached every year by the eager graduates that think their portfolios will help them land that first coveted position as a graphic designer. But they won’t; the portfolios are all the same; same projects every year, same typographic explorations, same “brand” case studies which really are “design a logo for an existing company” or even better “create a fictionalized company and design a logo”; zero ideas about brand position, market analysis, competition, mission or company offerings. Graphic design is taught on a surface level, there is very little depth of education and I am convinced this is why people think that graphic designers are simply concerned with aesthetics and why businesses think this is true even more. One of the easiest questions I ask in any interview is “Name three designers that have influenced you?” 98% fail, can’t do it, complete blank stares, abject horror that I have asked some strange esoteric question. Why cannot graphic design teach it’s own history? Create best practices? Enumerate the value of design, delineate between poor design and good design. Why aren’t some basic business courses required in the curriculum? Presentation skills taught? 

The brochure for my graphic design school would read “Graphic design is concerned with business; if you want to make pretty shit for yourself go to art school.”

Graphic design sucks Pt.1

Over the short, six-year history of my design studio I have often been asked “What do you do?” This question usually follows my own expression that “I work for a design studio” or “I own a design firm” or maybe “I am a communication designer.” Sometimes, I think I could avoid altogether the “What do I do?” by simply saying “I own a graphic design studio.” This never sits well for me or feels entirely comfortable either; the clients that we have developed brand positions for, or mediated their ideation sessions, or designed their brand identities would not recognize us if I said we were a graphic design studio. If I am honest with myself I don’t want to say I work in graphic design because I have come to the conclusion that graphic design is not considered a serious profession. 

There are many, many, far to many graphic designers minted from countless certificate programs, art schools, on-line courses, bachelor’s and associate programs. We are approached every year by the eager graduates that think their portfolios will help them land that first coveted position as a graphic designer. But they won’t; the portfolios are all the same; same projects every year, same typographic explorations, same “brand” case studies which really are “design a logo for an existing company” or even better “create a fictionalized company and design a logo”; zero ideas about brand position, market analysis, competition, mission or company offerings. Graphic design is taught on a surface level, there is very little depth of education and I am convinced this is why people think that graphic designers are simply concerned with aesthetics and why businesses think this is true even more. One of the easiest questions I ask in any interview is “Name three designers that have influenced you?” 98% fail, can’t do it, complete blank stares, abject horror that I have asked some strange esoteric question. Why cannot graphic design teach it’s own history? Create best practices? Enumerate the value of design, delineate between poor design and good design. Why aren’t some basic business courses required in the curriculum? Presentation skills taught? 

The brochure for my graphic design school would read “Graphic design is concerned with business; if you want to make pretty shit for yourself go to art school.”

Posted 2 years ago & Filed under graphic design, communication design, profession, 46 notes

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