Top Myths About Graphic Design Careers - Part I

fairyMyths: Every Job Has Them
No matter what you select as your career there are probably a number of myths or misunderstandings about what you do.

For example, people who are self-employed or work at home often hear, "You must have a lot of free time on your hands." Of course, this is farthest from the truth as many who are self-employed often work more than a standard 40-hour workweek.

If you are a graphic designer, enrolled in graphic design school or are thinking about becoming a graphic designer, the following "mythbusters" may provide some illumination and advice on how to handle some of the misconceptions regarding a career in graphic design.

The Myths
gene-roddenberry"The Customer Is Always Right"
When Gene Roddenberry first pitched his science fiction television idea of Star Trek to programming executives, ("the customers"), at NBC in the early 60s the reception to his concept was quite less than favorable.

Executives were concerned about the show being too "cerebral" for the common television viewer. As history has demonstrated, the concept and the television show has outlasted many of the original executives whose common sense view of television programing was in direct opposition against Roddenberry's vision.

Star Trek is syndicated around the world and still commands a loyal and growing fan base even after its first televised episode in 1966.

In a similar way there are times when prevailing "common sense" is overemphasized by graphic design clients. Graphic designers have a responsibility to give their professional feedback on projects (when warranted) to help create the best possible designs.

An observant graphic designer can point out critical flaws in an otherwise "perfect" concept. Keep this in mind when working on your graphic design projects--the customer isn't always right.

mouth-talking"'Constructive Criticism' Is Always Beneficial"
Although this is generally true, you will run into a few clients that go overboard on this -- it isn't so much about improving a concept as much as having an obsessive need to nitpick and be in control.

As a graphic designer it helps to develop a sense of when criticism is actually valid.

Genuine constructive criticism helps you to improve, while nitpicking has the opposite effect -- it demoralizes and is counterproductive. Learn to distinguish between the two and maintain open lines of communication with your clients to resolve any conflicts regarding design ideas or changes.

mona-lisa-painting"Exceptional Talent Is All You Need"
A hiring manager at a graphics firm was fond of saying, "Talent can always improve; attitudes, rarely so..."

Exceptional talent is a strong calling card when applying for a graphic design position but it is rarely the only attribute that graphic design firms seek in their potential hires.

The job of a graphic designer encompasses a great deal of communication between the client, coworkers, and project managers. A design concept gone wrong is usually a design concept that was not communicated effectively among the project team.

In addition to talent and a solid education in graphic design basics from a graphic design college, you must also develop strong communication and teamwork skills.

Next Time...
In part 2 of this series we will cover misunderstandings about creativity, education and other topics related to the field of graphic design. Until then, take care and keep on designing!

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