There are many misconceptions about what exactly graphic design is, how it's done and why it's not something that just anyone can do. So below, I explore the biggest myths about graphic design.
8. Graphic Design is Easy
Just because graphic designers sit in front of a computer all day, does not mean that graphic design is easy. Graphic designers are not magicians. Doing great work takes thought and brainpower, it's not just about knowing how to use software programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. Just like other professions, being a graphic designer takes skill, experience, expertise, knowledge and dedication. It also takes a ton of self-motivation, since the industry is always changing. It's up to designers to constantly educate themselves about the changing trends and technologies.
7. Graphic Designers are NOT "Starving Artists"
When you're just starting out in any profession, you may not be at the highest pay grade. However, just like other professions, the harder you work, the better you become and the more in-demand your work becomes, thus upping your salary. Top level designers are often promoted to managerial positions including Art Director, Creative Director or Chief Creative Officer. Graphic design can be very lucrative, IF you work hard and have a great eye for good design. But it doesn't happen overnight, it takes years — sometimes decades — to get there.
6. Graphic Designers Know What You're Thinking
It would be great if we graphic designers were mind-readers and knew what you wanted something to look like without having to tell us. We love to hear what your thoughts on the design are, in fact, clear objectives on a project would help the process go much smoother. Ideally, you'd give us some of your thoughts, and we'd translate it into a great idea or design, using our creative license to come up with something great.
5. Graphic Design Customers are Always Right
Sometimes people think that the customer is in total control of the output because designers are paid to do their demands. Unfortunately, this is a huge misconception about the value of the artistry behind the design. Graphic designers spend many years perfecting their craft, and apply styles and techniques learned through education and experience to create a great and effective product for their customers. While collaboration with the customer is ideal, it's best to remember why you have asked for creative design help in the first place.
4. "Fixing" or "Editing" a Design is as Fast as a Flick of the Wrist
With the help of technology, designers can execute their work faster and with more efficiency, but asking a designer to create a design or edit a design within just a matter of hours is a fallacy. Good design has never resulted from rushed work because designers take time to carefully plan and procure each piece they work on. This may include thoughtful brainstorming, research or other planning to come up with the best possible solution for the assignment. NEVER tell a designer, "This shouldn't take long."
3. Graphic Designers are Not [always] Technology Experts
We designers are usually pretty resourceful when it comes to technology. We can typically figure out a new software or test out a new hardware with ease. But just because we spend all day using technology, doesn't mean we don't know how (or want) to fix your printer, your email, your PowerPoint that's doing something weird, your PC (!) that froze, or your phone settings that don't work. Most of the time, if we don't know something, we'll probably do the same thing you should have done in the first place...we GOOGLE IT!
2. Graphic Designers can Design without Actual Content
Without content, what is the design? It's a guess at what something might look like, but it's not anywhere close to a real, functional design. It's a huge waste of a graphic designer's time, and frankly quite rude (unless you've accounted for this guesswork with the appropriate compensation) to ask a designer to design without content. It's similar to saying "Hey, can you build me this house without a blueprint?" or, "I'd like a meal, but there are no ingredients." It's extremely unproductive (for a multitude of reasons) to work without content. By the time there actually is content, not only is the designer over-worked and tired of the piece, but the piece has been over-worked and is not the best it could be, due to multiple rounds of content-less or inadequate content edits. Content drives design, just like form follows function. It's an age-old saying that withstands the test of time.
1. Anyone Can Be a Graphic Designer
This is perhaps the biggest myth of all. Knowing how to open Photoshop and "play around" does not make you a designer. Having taken one graphic design course in college does not make you a designer. Using graphic design terminology does not make you a designer. Knowing the names of a few fonts does not make you a designer. I think you get the gist, here.
Just like not anyone can be a doctor, a lawyer, a professional basketball player or a chef, not just anyone can be a graphic designer. Graphic design is a lifestyle. We designers live and breathe art and design, we appreciate culture, color, texture, fonts and photography, we educate and dedicate ourselves to the craft. We have spent time and energy practicing what we do. It's not just an "eye" for design that we have, but a true passion and talent that we hone, each and every day. Most of us even design as a hobby, because we love it and can't live without it.