Saturday, October 18, 2008

Designer Myths - Busted

Many people really don’t understand what a graphic designer does. Over the years I have heard many different things about what my job entails. Here are a few of those myths:

You make things look pretty.
You draw all day.
You press a button and poof your design is done.
My kid could do that on his computer.
I have a computer, I can do that.

In a way all these things are true, but yet far from the truth too.

We do make things look “pretty,” but we do so much more than that. We take rough sketches and abstract ideas and flesh them out. There have been many a day when I have been given a very (and I mean very) rough drawing (a few lines and scratches) and some Sanskrit scrawled across it and asked to turn it into something. After a few questions to get a better understanding of the expectation, I begin designing. Usually, a couple hours later I have a workable draft that the client is pleased with. After going back and forth a few times to clarify things, we end up with a product both the client and myself are pleased with.

As for “drawing all day,” yes, sometimes I do. Most days though are spent talking with clients about their projects and working on the computer to create the art for them. Some days are spent drawing and taking ideas and bringing them to life. Each day is different and each day is spent working on different aspects of jobs.

There are days that I wish I could “press a button” and the design would be done. Unfortunately, or fortunately for designers, it is not that easy. Each design takes time to figure out, plan, explore possibilities, and place each element. We do “press a button” (actually, many buttons) as we work on the computer to refine our designs.

“My kid could do that on his computer.” He could. “I have a computer, I can do that.” You can. Anyone can “do it,” but designers are trained and most have years of experience designing and creating. We know how to use the right fonts, images and layouts to promote your product or business.

A design result may look simple, but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Anyone can sing a song – but not everyone is Luciano Pavarotti. It may seem easy just to swish paint on a canvas to come up with something that rivals an abstract masterpiece – until you actually try it.

I have talked with various clients, and they wonder what it is I do and why it takes time. They always see the end result, but they don’t see all the work that goes into it and all the prototypes and drafts that preceded it.

Designers can educate clients on their process. Help them understand that these and other myths are only partly true. There is more to good design than meets the eye.

It may look simple in the end product, but it’s usually not easy to achieve.


Nicole Dornsife said...

Ugh, tell me about it. Actually they have "I make things look pretty" and "I draw all day" or similar quotes on shirts on At least they did when I bought my Helvetica "light, regular, bold, black" coffee mug.

Found you from Twitter btw.

Grafixgibbs said...

I've actually gotten to the point where that doesn't bother me so much. I now try to educate the client on what it is we really do.