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8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed

As a graphic design instructor, and as a professional designer, I hear the same things over and over again. I’m not sure where the rumors started, or how they continue to grow, but I thought it was time that someone set the record straight.


Myth #1: All Graphic Designers are Rich

I probably hear this from new students more than anyone else. Some of them are in school because they love design and can’t imagine doing anything else. But, a surprisingly large percentage of them are expecting to leave their graduation ceremony in a limousine. Somehow, they have gotten the message that graphic design will bring them fame and fortune. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this simply isn’t the way it works.

Design is an extremely competitive field, and therefore, companies don’t need to go broke to keep their design departments staffed. There is always someone out there willing to work for less, and unfortunately, that keeps our salary rate pretty low right out of school. If you’re talented, and you put in the time and the work, you will move up the pay scale. But, be realistic. You’re not going to be making doctor or lawyer money. Not unless you want to do the hard stuff. If you have the drive and talent to be a back-end programmer, then you might take home a pretty nice paycheck.

I don’t think that most of us are starving, but I know that many of us work a 9 to 5 and freelance on the side just to make ends meet. If you really want to know what type of salary to expect as a graphic designer, read this Creative Opera post, “Design FAQ: How Much Money Do Graphic Designers Make?”

mandaspacer

Myth #2: It’s an Easy Job

When I tell people I’m a Graphic Designer, the usual response is, “Oh, that must be FUN!” as if Graphic Design isn’t a real job. I’ve had clients say, “I wish I could come to your office and play all day with you instead of working.” I’ve had students who have answered my “What made you choose Graphic Design?” question with, “It’s an easy job. I want an easy job.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s it’s not easy, it’s not a game, and it’s not a joke. Designers work long hours, under extremely tight deadlines, for demanding clients. We are expected to do design work, customer service, accounting, and sales. We are the ultimate multi-taskers, working on several projects at once , and we are expected to constantly come up with fresh creative ideas. Any designer who owns their own firm has all of the responsibilities of any other company owner. Just because the end product might be clever or beautiful, that doesn’t mean that a lot of hard work, sweat, and tears weren’t sacrificed for that end result. If you love design, you should do it. If you’re looking for an easy job, look elsewhere.

mandaspacer

Myth #3: The Studying Ends After College

If you don’t like books or if you don’t like constantly learning new things, graphic design may not be the field for you. When I look back at my college books, I laugh. We were using Photoshop 3, and Illustrator had just started to replace Correl Draw. It has been up to me, for the last 10 years, to constantly read books, study tutorials, and attend classes to make sure that my skills upgraded with the design programs. Not only did I have to keep up with the latest software, I had to keep up with the world. As a print designer, I had to take it upon myself to expand my skillset to include Dreamweaver, HTML, XHTML, and CSS. I taught myself Flash and I’m doing my best to figure out PHP. I own enough books to start a small library, and I probably spend as much time updating my skills and learning new things as I do working on paid projects.

It is important to stay on top of the latest programs, the newest trends, and to continually expand your skillset. Why? Graphic design is extremely competitive. If you’re not constantly learning, you’re going to get passed up by those who are.

mandaspacer

Myth #4: Designers Don’t Have to Deal with People

It seems that many designers have this lovely image of their future selves sitting in front of two gorgeous wide-screen Apple displays while rocking out to their favorite band — designing in peaceful bliss for 8 hours each day. There might be a few jobs like this available somewhere. But, for most of us, we will be dealing with clients — or a sales team — on a daily basis. Be ready for constant interruptions, jumping from project to project as the calls come in. Be ready for meetings, phone conferences, and a hundred daily emails. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the position of Project Manager, hounding clients who seem to have dropped the ball on a project, or following up with past clients.

People want to communicate with their designer. And, in order to create a successful end product, it is in your best interest to form a relationship with your clients  — even if their calls interrupt your favorite song.

mandaspacer

Myth #5: Clients Realize that the Designer Knows Best, and will Give them Freedom to Design

Probably one of the hardest concepts for a student or a new designer to grasp is that after school is over, they are done designing for themselves. Sure, there is the rare (and treasured) client that will trust you to make all of the right decisions. But, most clients come in armed with myths #2 and #7 and assume that they can do your job just as well or better than you can. They will direct every detail and revise your designs into the ground.

Once you are working for a paying client, it doesn’t matter what colors you like, what fonts you like, or that the design would be cleaner if some text was cut. If the client wants to squeeze 3 full 8.5 x 11 sheets of text onto a regular tri-fold brochure, it is up to you to make it work. If the company colors are mauve and royal blue, it’s up to you to make it work. This can be extremely frustrating at first, but remember, it’s the client who needs to be happy here. Not you. It’s not your job to create something you love. It’s your job to create something your client loves.

Try to look at each client as a challenge. First, you must try to read their mind. What do they want? How can I create something they will love? Then, you have to give them what they want, and still try to maintain solid design principles. Go in knowing that there will be many revisions. Expect that the client may make things difficult by demanding you use a certain image or by adding a bunch of copy. And, then, when it happens, use it as a test to see how talented you really are. Make it work. The sooner you come to terms with the fact that the client is the boss — not you — the better.

mandaspacer

Myth #6: Designers Can Easily Start their own Company right out of School

So many students live with the belief that they will start their own multi-million dollar company the day after they graduate. I see the seniors in class gathering their friends and designing business cards so they can all partner up and rake in the money. Now, I’m not saying that it hasn’t been done, or that it’s impossible. But, I am saying that it is highly unlikely that you will go straight from the classroom to owner of your own company with no prior experience. And, it’s not smart to assume so.

You do learn a lot in school. But, you don’t learn half of the things that you’ll need to know to run a company. Those are things that you learn on the job. You’re not going to learn how to deal with clients, how to handle contracts, estimates, and billing, or how to hire illustrators and printers at school. You’re not going have a network of reliable people right out of school. You’re not going to know how to run a meeting, how to set up a conference call, or how to keep track of hundreds of open jobs. It is important that you build a foundation for yourself with professional experience before you venture off on your own.

If you’re hoping to start your own design business someday, try to find a job in a smaller company where you can have your hands in many departments. You’ll learn a lot that way. If you have the patience, work for a few different companies so that you can see that there are different ways to run a successful firm. Start building your freelance cliental, make sure you have some savings, figure out your taxes, get your insurance and a retirement plan in order, and THEN take the leap and start your own company. The road will be much easier this way, and much more likely to end in success.

mandaspacer

Myth #7: Anyone Can Do It

As designers, we get a lot of “Oh, my cousin is a designer,” or “My friend is a designer,” just to find out that these people know a little Photoshop, or create invitations with Word. The two examples I seem to run across the most is those who have played with Photoshop Elements, and those who have created their first website with FrontPage. People think that because they can remove red-eye or make a photo sepia-tone, they are on their way to a second career in Graphic Design. These are the people I am up against when a client says “I have a neighbor who will design my website for $50.00.”

Don’t let these individuals affect you. Don’t drop your prices to meet theirs or become overly competitive with them. It is okay that people find design to be an enjoyable hobby. If any of them want to become full-time designers, they will still have to complete the courses and learn the skills that you already have. In the meantime, try not to be frustrated. You’re going to hear it the rest of your career. Everyone thinks they are a designer, and you just have to be secure enough to stay professional and let them be. You know that there is a lot of talent, time, and dedication involved with becoming a professional designer, so try not to roll your eyes or feel threatened. It should make you feel good to know that you have a job that others actually want to do for fun in their spare time. Lucky you!

mandaspacer

Myth #8: There are Plenty of Dream Jobs to Go Around

I’ve found that most student designers share the same dreams. They want to test video games, create album covers (only for their favorite bands), design t-shirts, or spend their days color-correcting images in Photoshop. Your dreams may be different, and that’s probably good. The problem is that some students are so set on these dream jobs, that they forget to make themselves marketable just in case they can’t land one of these rare positions. Try to be realistic. Expand your skill-set just in case. Don’t close your mind to other possibilities. There just aren’t that many of these jobs available. If you can’t make it as a video game tester, you’ll be glad that you took your other classes seriously so that you can land a job as a character designer instead. As a designer, you can never know too much. And, if you have a wide range of knowledge, you’ll be surprised how many other awesome jobs you’ll have to choose from!

Want to better your chances of landing your dream job? You might want to read the Creative Opera post, “6 Things You can Do Now to Help Guarantee that You will have a Design Job after Graduation”

Hungry for more design myths? Check out 8 MORE Graphic Design Myths!

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109 Responses

8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed…

As a graphic design instructor, and as a professional designer, I hear the same things over and over again. I’m not sure where the rumors started, or how they continue to grow, but I thought it was time that someone set the record straight….

04.08.09

Awesome article. Very well said, and straight to the point. Out of school I thought a few of those things myself. This article needs to go out to all college students.

04.08.09

I know exactly where this quote: “I wish I could come to your office and play all day with you instead of working.” came from :)

This is definitely a great article. Luckily, I myself never thought I would make mad bank so I diversified (coding, audio and such) to keep employable.

Manda Reply:

Shhhhhhhhhh…… :D
Sadly, I’ve heard this from more than one client!

[...] 8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed [...]

04.08.09

If we’re addressing students, I might add

#9 Your Design Is Always Right
Time and time again, young designers I’ve worked with have impervious to criticism egos. Not to their fault though because you couldn’t succeed as a designer without it. The problem is that with a lack of experience and real-world knowledge, that ego needs to be kept in check to really succeed and to avoid all these other myths.

I think it’s the toughest part to overcome; to know your actual worth, stick up for it, and not let an inflated self-idealized persona take over.

Manda Reply:

I think you have a very valid point. It’s important to learn when to let go. You just can’t be successful as a designer if you don’t take the time to listen to your clients. They know what they want and they are paying the bill, so most of the time, that makes them right!

04.08.09

Great points Manda, I think I’ll send this on to some of my clients, lol

04.08.09

One of my favorites is that most clients (outside of the creative industry) honestly believe that because things are done via computer mainly that it should be much faster, revisions should be a breeze and cost little to nothing because it’s already there. What most of them don’t understand is the entire creative process in general. Concepts alone could take forever which is why 9-5 is completely out of the question.

Manda Reply:

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this one! This is so true! Not only do clients not understand the time it takes to do any type of design work, but friends and family have a hard time with this as well. People will look at a logo and say, THIS is what you’ve been working on for the last three weeks?!?! Nobody realizes that it took 200 designs to get to the final product. I’ve even heard people say, why don’t you skip the thumbnails and comps and just give me one good one!! LOL!

04.08.09

I love this article! … I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so TRUE. I’m forwarding this to my Marketing Director. Thanks!

04.08.09

Great points. I’d also add that there is more to design than the tools one uses. I can’t believe how many people have told me they want to do something themselves so they’re planning on buying and learning Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop or whatever. Or they’ll “design” a Web site in PowerPoint and ask me how to make it a live site on the Web.

Somehow they think that because we work on computers, the computer does all the work. The knowledge we gained during all those years we spent learning about typography, design, usability, HTML, CSS, marketing, etc. are supposed to be magically included in a program’s feature set.

Manda Reply:

I think that is an EXCELLENT point! I’ve also experienced (as I’m sure you have) people who purchase those programs and then ask you to just “teach me how to use it real quick” as if a 20 minute lesson will cover everything they need to know!!

04.08.09

If I had a nickle for every time I have run into these “myths” in the last 12 years I would be a rich designer, but not from graphic design. Great article!

Manda Reply:

I’m glad you can share in my experiences! I’m so glad I wrote this article — it feels so good to know I’m not alone. It’s like my own little support group :)

[...] 8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed (tags: graphicdesign design freelance) [...]

04.08.09

Great points Manda, I would also add that I’ve seen a lot of misunderstanding concerning sales – aspiring freelancers somehow feel they can become successful without really learning how to market and sell their services. I had one student ask me, “I want to freelance, but what if I don’t like to sell”, I jokingly replied, “Then I would learn how to farm.”

I’ve found that many students feel that being a PhotoShop expert will alone bring clients in the door, when in fact the freelancers that are the most successful aren’t necessarily the most creatively gifted.

PS – love your blog here, Manda – if you’d like to check out a couple of evaluation copies of the books I’ve written for creative freelancers, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to hook you up so you can check them out.

Jeremy
beingastarvingartistsucks.com

Manda Reply:

I absolutely agree with you. I think that sales is a challenge for many of us. We are comfortable selling a product for a client, but not as comfortable selling ourselves. Sales is a HUGE part of freelance – and it’s important that new designers are aware of that right out of the gate.

04.08.09

My favorite is the people that look at your work and say “Hey I can do that”. Its more than doing the work, it’s coming up with concepts and executing them.

Great article!

Manda Reply:

That’s the truth!! Of course it looks easy after you see the final product! You’re so right — the concept is where real skill comes into play.

04.08.09

What really ticks me off is when a client who payed me half the price because “she had no money” comes up to me after 3 months and says “Do you think you charged me rightly for that project”.

I dont think they get what effort goes into the design process from now on I make sure the client know beforehand how much work is involved.

Manda Reply:

:) I don’t think non-designers will ever understand how much work goes into design. I try to explain the process to my clients, and I’ve been very lucky that they have been understanding — but you’re right, many aren’t. I also think it’s human-nature to be cheap about stuff. I used to be a server, and when people would complain about the food, and we would cut the price of the bill in half to make them happy, they would still be complaining on their way out. Sigh.

I also think it’s funny when I agree to do something free (for a charity or something) and they want to completely control everything – with 20 rounds of revisions. Now, when I do work for free, I explain to people that they will be getting free work, and I will be getting free reign so that I walk out with a nice portfolio piece. I also explain to them that they will be last on my priority list because paying clients will come first. It’s the only way to stay sane!

[...] 8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed | Creative Opera: Design Advice and Creative Inspiration Excellent myths revealed! Be sure to read this if you are in College. (tags: design freelance blogs graphicdesign tutorial) [...]

04.08.09

Manda, I just came across your blog and really like your style of writing – so lively and easy to read :)

Manda Reply:

That makes me feel so good! I’m so glad you like it!

04.08.09

Excellent list. i really agree with the myth “Myth #4: Designers Don’t Have to Deal with People”… maybe in a perfect world, but 70% of the job is milking the client for “useful” and insightful information to execute the design.

and i don’t even wannna get started on “Myth #1: All Graphic Designers are Rich”.. as if… all money made, goes right back into purchasing computers, scanners, plugs, cameras, books, seminars, memberships, promotional material, and lets not forget programs. my non-designer friends think that some how they just appear in my apartment and dont buy the excuse that i cant go to the pub because i just dropped $1400 on a new laptop, so i can lounge and learn on the road.

Manda Reply:

LOL! I know exactly what you mean!! I always talk about how broke I am, but then I see the looks I get from people when they hear that I purchased a new computer or they’re with me when I spend a fortune in the bookstore. It’s all for work! Trust me, I’d rather spend that money on a Hawaiian vacation!!

04.08.09

Myth #9: Oh, You’re A Designer? Will You Help Me Fix My Email…
Not everyone will get exactly what your job is. You are a designer, you probably work with photoshop or some other graphic editing program, and you create digital, artisitc graphics, but that does not mean you know everything else. Just because you are a designer, people might overestimate your abilities with other things like web development or a different field of graphic design. You, as the designer might also overestimate your abilities with other fields of similar fields, but remember all the work you’ve put into becoming a designer, and know that for all the other fields, it takes just as much!

Manda Reply:

I can’t believe that I didn’t think of this one! I get this ALL of the time!! I ALWAYS have people asking me to fix their computers, restore their hard-drives, or set up a network for them. I don’t know how to do ANY of that stuff! Those jobs are for IT people – not designers! Luckily, I’ve finally connected with some trustworthy people that I can recommend when someone needs IT work or advanced programming stuff (and who I can call when I need those things myself!)

04.08.09

Thanks this is extremely useful article for a beginner like me :)

04.08.09

I agree for that myth as far as how you look at side point. It’s true that all graphic designer are rich. They have a treasure in their mind. They have created everything for this world to became rich of treasure, material possession, property, assets and another related. take alook why several artist are poor while they still alive or not paid enough for their life but after they died, their artwork was become most high in value and sold for another record in auction. At the other point, the simplest thing can be most successful product in the market. Why we must to think hard for all this. I belive that everything is simple. let people follow their path only if they have talent, their talent will give them a path to their success. I just remember that “When the people of the world all know beauty as beauty, There arises the recognition of ugliness.” and “Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.”

Once upon a time, we didn’t know many profession like today. even profession for design only. I just realize that this world become complicated. If you have idea to another dream job, let you make other profession list to added for this world and people follow you.

Manda Reply:

I do agree with you ref. We are rich in our own way. I wouldn’t trade my job for anything. I absolutely love it. But, some people get into this field just for the money, and I want them to know that designers just aren’t rolling in cash. We get to be creative and do what we love — so we have to take a smaller paycheck in return.

04.08.09

well, the first thread i checked is the one that i feel all first semister students of GD should read… i know just as much as anyone how hard it is to actually get a job after you graduate. also most of the people i talked to and told i was a graphic designer thought it was all bananas and dancing with toothbrushes, or just thought i was a programmer of some sort and asked what languages i knew. then seemed dissapointed when i told them it was strictly on the design end. the only real advise i could give to any new student is dont get sucked into the commercial for you school, like; you could be a game tester, or animation is the hot new degree! i went for animation and have been kicking myself for the last three years for not going into web development. most companies are looking for a programmer who happens to know design right now because the economy is so terrible.

but i have to say manda this is a very well put together site! did you program it yourself!?

Manda Reply:

Hi Jeff,

I was laughing as I read your comment because I started to get my Master’s Degree in animation, and I had to quit because I ran out of money. But, I WANT an animation degree! I think video games are going to become a big part of the educational process in the future, and I thought it would be great to create educational environments through animation. I know that it’s more in demand in some parts of the country than others (if you’re in the US?), but I think that it will be a growing field – and I know that animators will make more money than straight designers. On the other hand, I see your point about what is most commonly needed right now. There are a lot more web development jobs available than there are animation jobs. The good news is, though, with your animation background, you can probably teach yourself html, xhtml, css and php without too much trouble. There are a lot of great books out there, and I highly recommend Lynda.com (only $25/month). If you learn those basic skills, and design a few kick-ass websites as samples, you’ll be landing web design jobs in no time.

I’m glad you like the site :) I absolutely did NOT program it from scratch. LOL! I wish I could say that I did!! I used WordPress (which I LOVE by the way). I found a basic theme and heavily customized it with CSS and custom images. I love working with XHTML and CSS, but I’m still learning PHP, so I didn’t feel ready to create a blog from scratch. Plus, I wanted this site to be about the content more than the design – it needed to work more than it needed to be pretty! I’m already planning a redesign though, with a theme I’ll build myself, but I haven’t had time to work on it much yet. If you want to present anything to the world in an easy-to-update, easy-to-organize, easy-to-customize way, I don’t think you could choose anything better than WordPress. I had this whole site up and running in two days — in between working on other stuff — and I had never used WordPress before. The best part about it is that it’s free! Plus, if you’re planning to try to learn CSS or PHP, playing with customizing the WordPress themes is a great way to start.

04.08.09

@Manda
thanks for the heads up on how you built the site! i’m going to have to look into WordPress.

also, i’m not saying that animation was the wrong way to go. just that as a major for a bac degree it might not be the way to go if you want a job right away. animation is a very time consuming process and for someone like me who sees the final picture before the lines it would be much easier for me to do rough sketches and hand it to a design team to do my evil bidding! muahahahaha… alas all they would do right now is ask who the hell i am and tell me to go get their coffee… but i can dream right!?

04.08.09

i wanted to also add that learning programming languages is a snap anymore, with all of those idiots guides and what not. oddly enough, i have a background in programming since long before i knew i could draw. the fact of the matter is, unless you have uber time on your hands or know a programmer (who wont leave a signature in the code and then try to yank your ideas) design will almost always take a back seat to code. but there are a few games as of recent on the PS3 network that have shown that games can be art. see: tori emaki, linger in shadows. but i will agree more than anyone that games WILL be the future

Manda Reply:

It’s funny that you feel that design always takes a back-seat to code. I think there are many coders out there who probably feel that design always gets the majority of the attention. In reality, we need each other — but if you have the time and the mind to learn both, it just makes you that much more valuable! It sounds like you are on the right track. It never hurts to animation in your back pocket as a secret weapon :)

04.08.09

I would never have believed someone saying Graphic Design jobs are easy. Most clients can’t design, but still have some idea of what they want in their heads. Since they can’t articulate it, it is up to the designer to read their mind and come up with the design, something that with pickier clients is nothing but trial and error.

~ Kristi

Manda Reply:

You’ve hit the nail right on the head with the trial and error comment. We designers have to be mind readers — no easy task!!

04.08.09

LOL at Myth #1.

Manda Reply:

:) At least we can chuckle at our poorness.

04.08.09

I’m reading this and realizing that all these are true for my job in corrugated design as well. People think that they can do my job because it’s “just a box” and they have AutoCAD. Just because your computer says something is possible doesn’t mean it works in real life. The worst thing in the world is when a client needs a complicated package and refuses to give you the product, because they think they can handle it. I waste SOOOOO much time making the revisions to YOUR designs.
Also I’m now realizing how all the office/business skills I’ve picked up in corrugated design apply to graphic design. I’ve never thought of it that way. Great blog Manda!!!

Manda Reply:

I think you have it harder even than the print and web designers. Clients probably understand your craft least of all, and probably make the most insane requests. I feel for you, George. You actually bring up another great point that I should have added to my list. Myth #127: If the client starts the project themselves, it will save time and money. There is NOTHING worse than trying to sort out bad web files, bad flash files, or 12-page brochures in RGB with low-res photos and no bleeds. Sigh. It takes twice as long as designing from scratch!!

:) I’m glad you like the blog. I hope you come back to visit again!

[...] site called Creative Opera lists 8 common myths about the design profession. Good reading for anyone considering a career in the [...]

04.08.09

This is a great! Thank you for the list. I’m sending it to my clients. Would you please do another debunker? Include stuff like … no more than a couple of font families per project, bolding all the text is bad, 10-7pt type is legible, people really can read white text on dark backgrounds, scrolling is ok, etc …

Kumail.H.: “.. they will be getting free work, and I will be getting free reign ..”
HaHa! Wouldn’t that be nice? Some of my non-profits are harder to work with than my paying clients. The nice thing is, I can remain truer to my design solutions by being more stubborn about implementing their inexperienced compromises.

LOL: Why don’t you skip the thumbnails and comps and just give me one good one!!

“Its more than doing the work, it’s coming up with concepts and executing them.” Yes! So many creative concepts poorly compromised in execution – sigh

Manda Reply:

I’m happy you enjoyed the list! I think you have a great idea. I will absolutely add it to my list of future blog posts!! I should have it up in the next month or so. I’ll have to add: You don’t need to underline your headlines. People can tell they are headlines — even if they aren’t a different color, bold, huge, AND underlined!

04.08.09

What gets me is when clients think that design is so “easy” that they actually ask me to teach them how to design. Granted, I’ve given a few tutorials concerning Illustrator and design to people who ask (and pay!) in the past, but I had one client who thought that because he could make a site through the WYSIWYG editor in Dreamweaver that he could create his company’s coffee shop and social media site the same way.

It took me five years to get to where I am with design, with and without professional training as well as an apprenticeship under a more advanced designer. Yes, I feel it is possible through very, very hard work to learn how to design, but the results vary by individual. The advice I give to most who are starting out is to take a few classes, absorb what books and RSS feeds they can, and work in an agency for a while (like I did when I was first starting).

My other pet peeve was seeing the designers in some of the agencies I work for essentially stay at status quo; design is a newer field, and it is still evolving and changing with technology and time, as well as fashion trends. =/

Manda Reply:

You’ve mentioned ANOTHER great example that I wish I had included in the post!! I get asked that all of the time — can’t you just show me how to do it? Can you imagine going to a mechanic and saying “Just show me how to change my oil,” or asking a doctor to show you how to read lab results? Personally, if I’m not being paid to teach, I just can’t do it. I’m going to be paying off my student loans for the next 25 years (design school and some masters classes), and I’m CONSTANTLY reading books and going through tutorials online to update my skills. How can someone expect you to just give all of that hard work and time away? I agree with your method. Send them in the direction of books, the internet and classes. I’m all for a person learning about design. Just do it the right way — with school — like the rest of us!

04.08.09

Really great article! I agree with everything you have written. It’s funny when people think it’s all fun and games and that anyone with a copy of Photoshop is a designer (and photographer for that matter). It’s painful seeing things that have obviously been created in Word or Powerpoint…

Manda Reply:

I’m glad you enjoyed the article!! PowerPoint and Word designs are the WORST!! Although even worse than seeing them is when someone starts one, and asks you to finish it (keeping it in Word or PowerPoint) so that they can make changes to it or update it later themselves. Ugh!

[...] original en inglés: http://www.creativeopera.com/2009/8-common-graphic-design-myths/ (Valora este Post)  Loading [...]

04.08.09

I am not graphic designer. I own and run my own website design agency and work with designers in the team. I loved this article – it’s great. I am going to pinch some of the principles and apply them to website design if you don’t mind!

Myth5 is the one that gets me the most, I just cannot understand why a client would come to us for a website and then tell me how I am going to do it??!!?!

Manda Reply:

I’m really happy that you liked the article!! I think that most of these myths can easily be applied to all fields of design. There is just this general opinion (by those not in our field) that anyone can do it — which is why Myth 5 is so common :) I’m not sure how we’re going to do it, but we designers have got to find a way to get people to take our career field more seriously!

[...] 8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed [...]

04.08.09

@Livia

Amen to that. Or people who take design courses and think Photoshop is the only application they will ever need to use. Design is one of those unique professions where more software skills does not mean better design skills. As someone else once put it, it’s nice that you know how to do X, Y, and Z in (insert Adobe Software name here), but do you know WHY you do X, Y, and Z?

Manda Reply:

I agree with Livia also. The other funny thing about Photoshop is that because a person can do a few things with the automated tools, they feel that they are Photoshop experts. There are SOME people out there who DO only use Photoshop (photo editors, special effects people, etc.) and if used correctly, it is a VERY complex and EXTREMELY deep program!! And, as you are saying, Jon, even if you do know Photoshop inside and out, it’s not going to do you any good without advanced design skills and the trained eye for color, balance, etc. it takes to create a professional design piece with it.

04.08.09

Nice article Manda :) thanks for sharing !
This will help me out in the future , I know that designing is hard but I wan to do it,people dont do it just for the money do it when you love it.
If you dont love it you will not handle this job anyway if you work just for the money you will not be ready to work at night or weekend and i think you work will not be so good. ( I am so damnn sorry )
And btw you should not start with customizing wordpress-themes you should study them check out the code see how it works and you will know how to create a theme, its pretty easy ( and if I can say that with 16 years,then its much easier for you people.
(Sorry for my english quite bad I know xD)

Manda Reply:

Hi Sanid! Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoyed the post :) I have seen your blog, and have seen your posts on Abduzeedo so I know that you absolutely understand the hard work that goes into graphic design. You are extremely motivated, and I know that is going to pay off for you in your career as a designer.

As for my use of a WordPress theme for this blog, haha, I know that you are right — I should take the time to create my own theme. I want to, and I plan to (even though this theme has been very good to me – thank you cuikai!). It’s been on my to-do list since I launched this blog. But, it is extremely difficult to find the extra time. Client projects always have to come first, and I really wanted to get this blog going. So, I am using a theme for now, but I am planning a redesign shortly!

[...] my personal experience I managed to compile them and added few from a well known blog “Creative Opera”. I hope this will be helpful for designers and clients [...]

04.08.09

Very nice design & info! I’m just migrating from Blogger to WordPress, and I’m having a tuff time figuring out how to ‘look presentable.’

Your site’s an inspiration. I’ll definitely check out your design services, too.

04.08.09

Hey Manda,

Excellent article! I really enjoyed reading this post!… so, keep posting ;)

Ovi Dogar

04.08.09

So true. Great posts. Keep them coming!

04.08.09

Great article, Manda!

I’ve heard too many ‘oh, can’t you just tweak this in Photoshop and give it to us in 10 mins’ crap, from the NON-designer’s at my former job I just stared at them like they were mad, and said’ ‘Sure, why don’t YOU show me how it’s done in TEN minutes!?’

LOL. The look on their faces… Plus I was the one that I had to stay till 2 am making sure those visuals were perfect. Them?In their beds at 2 with just a single care: would the visuals be ready for their 10 am presentation.

Oh and I’ve come across certain companies that hire designers and actually have a clause in their contracts that say they can’t freelance outside the office. Talk about not being paid enough! And yes, it is legal here unfortunately.

04.08.09

Hi Manda

I so much loved this article. I’m dealing with these myths for ages. Would like to add #128 “GD get up at 11am, always run around in black turtlenecks and go to posh parties” and #130 “I’ve set up the 60 page catalogue in power point for you – makes it easier for you to set up the job for the printer”

I think we have to live with it.

Cheers from Sydney
Astrid

[...] July 18, 2009 [...]

04.08.09

Finally! Those Graphic Design Myths are well and truly “Busted” great post…
.-= countzeero´s last blog ..Inspirational Quotes #22 =-.

04.08.09

Hello! You can see from my blog link that I LOVED this article!

Favorite part of the article under Myth #2: “Designers work long hours, under extremely tight deadlines, for demanding clients. We are expected to do design work, customer service, accounting, and sales. We are the ultimate multi-taskers, working on several projects at once , and we are expected to constantly come up with fresh creative ideas. Any designer who owns their own firm has all of the responsibilities of any other company owner. Just because the end product might be clever or beautiful, that doesn’t mean that a lot of hard work, sweat, and tears weren’t sacrificed for that end result. If you love design, you should do it. If you’re looking for an easy job, look elsewhere.”

Thanks for bringing these myths to light!!
.-= Stephanie Scharf´s last blog ..8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed =-.

04.08.09

I gotta show my mom and pop this.. I got a couple of issues that need addressing :P
.-= Ian Hutchinson´s last blog ..Purina – Iniciativa PET =-.

[...] 8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed | Creative Opera Design Blog: Creative Advice and Inspiration…creativeopera.com [...]

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04.08.09

I’d only disagree with the one on reading books – if you want to be a designer you need to read, read and read. Not just books on design or the latest software (in fact I’d say that if you have to read a book on the latest Photoshop to help you move from one version to another, you’re probably not going to be a great designer) but books on the world, life, novels, the lot.
Good designers are polymaths – one, because it makes you much more likely to understand your client and two, because if all you can do at dinner parties is talk about design, you’ll soon stop being invited…
.-= Jonathan´s last blog ..<strike>Big Brother</strike> Amazon is Watching You =-.

04.08.09

Indeed, people tends to look at designers as a job that almost anyone who can just present any design be it graphical or otherwise easily. The fact is that most claimed designer’s works are mediocre and doesn’t have even have great portfolio to brag about. In today context, I think it will be essential to actually know more than just design.
.-= Terrance´s last blog ..The Autopsy Of WordPress As CMS With 25 Great WP Plugins & Designs =-.

04.08.09

This is a great post – I think it would make things a whole lot easier for everyone if there were less designers working within these paradigms. Myth no.5 is so true, many new designers don’t realize this. I also think that the myth about designers not having to deal with people is also very problematic. So much of being a designer involves working with people, whether it be your clients, other designers or printers. I’ve especially found that having strong lines of communication with printers is essential. I’ve recently been working with a printer (http://www.digitallizard.com/graphic-designer.php) that allows me to have an online portal from which my clients can directly order prints. It’s really made the whole process much smoother.

[...] LIBREMENTE del artículo: Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed (Vecindad [...]

04.08.09

This is so true I used to think as well until I decided to be a web designer. Thanks for sharing this great post I will tweet it for the rest of the world to see and learn.

04.08.09

I think it’s funny that I have never heard any of these myths. I guess I shouldn’t say ALL of those myths. I’ve heard of one or two of them, but never believed it. Like anyone can do it and you can get your dream job right out of school. I’m not a fool. All my life I have been designing things, and I’ve seen work from those who said they were “designers.” And I know that education will never stop. I think that will be one of the best things about my career as a designer. Right now I am learning how to design a web site at my internship. The Web Designers here have taught me so much, it was like taking two extra courses. There is always going to be more to learn, even if you’ve been in the industry for years.

[...] You can read the article in its entirety here. [...]

04.08.09

Each one of these made me laugh a little inside. I just got told I made a lot of money today because they “knew what designers made”. Huge myth.
.-= Mark´s last blog ..Inexpensive Ways to Market Your Business =-.

[...] 8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed by CreativeOpera.com [...]

04.08.09

Loved the article, so true! Here’s what I have to offer:

Myth #9:
The graphic designer is also an illustrator. The designer can do technical illustrations, create cartoon characters, transform the photo of Aunt
Sally into an engraving the size of a postage stamp. All at no extra fee.

While many graphic designers can, and do this work, many also subcontract illustration, just as they subcontract photography, and they, or the vendors, require separate compensation. The myth is that the client will receive illustration included in the design fee, that the designer by definition is also an illustrator, (hence the term “graphic artist”) and that the client will not have to purchase images or fund custom illustration or photography, so there is no corresponding budget allowance for this. “Oh, I didn’t realize we’d have to buy images. Can’t you just do it?”

I like to use the interior design analogy: the interior designer puts together fabric, floor materials, accessories, window treatments, etc. and various other components to engineer an appealing, beautiful, approachable and functional ambiance for any room or rooms in a home or office. But the interior designer does not make the quarry tile, silk/wool jacquard chair covering, or bleached oak flooring, and most clients seem to understand this and do not mind paying for “materials” that obviously, and from necessity, are outsourced.

The fact is that a successful final graphic design for anything from packaging, corporate identity, billboards, signage, to web design and email marketing comes from the work of many people: account executives, designers, art directors, production designers, illustrators, printers, and sign fabricators. To a greater or lesser extent, depending on the size of the graphics firm, whether a newbie (or “oldbie”) one-man-band or an experienced studio of thirty, the designer needs to be compensated, not only for the design itself, but for the outsourced services that make the end result a functional and aesthetically pleasing solution for the client.

Great Post. i refer back to this post often. Thanks for the reference.
.-= Web Design Company´s last blog ..Airoom =-.

[...] Articulo Original: 8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed [...]

Nice post … i really appreciate .. thank you

04.08.09

Wow! Great post Manda! Everything is spot on! #1 and #2 are my favorites.

I am definitely not rich, but some of my friends seem to think so.

Also, being a designer is not easy. People don’t realize that we probably work more hours than most people do. Most people, they work their 8 hours and go home. Me, I live and breathe design. I work 8 hours, then go home and work on my freelance business, and then I run a design blog. Very tiring!

Thanks for this great article!
.-= Design Informer´s last blog ..Wallpaper of the Week – Escape =-.

04.08.09

Madmediamonkey.com
IS THE BEST! Check it out.

04.08.09

I LOVE this blog!! It is so helpful. I am currently a student pursuing a career in Graphic Design and It is no easy as some people make it seem. Long hours drawing out layouts, then long hours transferring them to the computer..oh and the cost of supplies.

04.08.09

Great post, enjoyed reading this whilst nodding my head in agreement to every point. Graphic Design is one of the few professions where we have to wear many different hats. (It also helps if you can read minds and turn jobs around by yesterday).

It always frustrates me how the profession of graphic design is often perceived, such as fun, unprofessional, casual, ‘free’lance. There is very little respect for the experience, craft, education + talent. People tend to view lawyers as professionals and pay them $200/hour, but not so for designers.

Mt biggest peeve is when clients say work for cheap, it will be a good portfolio builder. What other profession is asked to work for free or on spec? Would you ask a mechanic to work on your car on spec or to add to his mechanic ‘portfolio’ — of course not.

04.08.09

I especially agree with #5 and I’m sure most freelancers or small design studios struggle with getting clients to understand and accept our professional opinion/recommendations.

The only myth I don’t agree with is #1. I’ve never once met a designer or student that believed the graphic design profession would lead to immense wealth. On the contrary, I’ve found most students and young professionals worry immensely with making a decent living in this field.

Thanks for the post!

[...] So, there you have it! 8 more design myths. Curious about the first 8? Check them out in: 8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed. [...]

So true! #7 especially resonates with me and my experience.

Thanks for this great article! So many people think that they know everything about web design / graphic design, when many of them believe these very myths you have pointed out.

[...] 8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed [...]

[...] one of the great Graphic Design Myths of our time: design is easy. Anyone can do it. Clients only see the end result. Once it’s on [...]

04.08.09

Your Comments great article, but it made me feel a bit sad and hopeless. I always wanted to be an illustrator when I was growing up but was pressurised into a hard science degree path. 20 years later I’m a struggling freelance web designer – after having spent the first 10 years as a struggling artist. I was just getting somewhere great with the art when I became very ill and now I am struggling just to get back to the same pay grade (do you know how frustrating it is to learn about 6 programming languages and still know that I got 10 times as much money last time I drew a 30cm sq. picture with felt-tip pens?)

I feel really miserable if the point that it’s impossible to be a ‘real’ graphic designer without a degree. I have 2 degrees and sundry other qualifications already and I can’t afford another. I was bullied out of taking art or graphic design when I was too young to stand up for myself (we had to decide at age 12). I’m nearly 40 and this has basically ruined my life. Sorry if that sounds melodramatic but I was the kid who was always sketching, the quiet imaginative one. A freind’s mother asked me a long time ago if they should ‘allow’ their young daughter to take fashion design at college and I explained that it wasn’t worth ruining her life just to stop her from “wasting” her time with art college. That was the attitude people had with me – I was top of every class at school, so I *must* become a scientist of some sort, pencils and paper are for babies and losers and it’s not a “proper job”.

I think somehow that should be one of your myths.

Sorry if I ruined an up-beat little thread here, it’s been a quiet day here.

Manda Reply:

Hi Stella, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

I feel terrible for your situation, but please don’t let it get you down. As a college instructor, I see many (MANY) students your age looking to change careers, and most of them are extremely successful in their second career. There is something to be said about following a career path when you are more determined and mature — and when you really understand what you want out of life. It’s never too late!!

Please also do not worry that you don’t have the time or money to return to school. It is becoming more and more acceptable in the field of design to enter your first job without a college design degree. (In fact, I am planning a post about exactly this on Friday – so check back!) A potential employer will be happy to see that you’ve been to school (no matter the degree) and should be able to appreciate the hard work and dedication it took you to learn so much on your own. Check out the information shared by the Usman Group in this article. Do you see what they say about having a college degree? Not a requirement!!

There are so many helpful (free!) articles and tutorials online that with a good amount of determination, you can learn everything you need to put together a good portfolio and land your dream job. And, if there is still more that you’d like to learn, you can check out Lynda.com — which I love — or find a training center or highschool community night class where you can learn whatever design skills you like for much less than you would pay for a full-fledged design degree.

Don’t give up Stella! I can see that you have a true passion for design. Please keep at it, I know you will succeed! Best of luck to you :)

Great Article, I’ll have to check this blog out more often.

Amen! So many people think graphic design is simple and takes minutes…little do they know. One piece of 40 layers can take an hour to create. The work is tedious to say the least. Although I enjoy the heck out of it.

Great article… I like your style!

DanO

Manda Reply:

Ha ha! Isn’t it funny? I think perhaps people think it’s so simple because we all love it so much that we just don’t complain about it. I know I can work for days on one layout — and it seems like 30 minutes. Time always flies when I’m doing something I love!

[...] one of the great Graphic Design Myths of our time: design is easy. Anyone can do it. Clients only see the end result. Once it’s on [...]

04.08.09

Becoming a freelance web designer is certainly not an easy job and requires really hard work especially in the beginning because you have to build a portfolio to show your work and gain the experience required.

04.08.09

I am a recent graduate trying to find a job in Web design. I have to agree that the money is not there. Everyone expects something for nothing, and figures it is easy to create a 500 page site. I would love to get into the industry i spent so much time studying, but I might have to take a regular 9-5 just to pay the bills. If anyone needs a Web site, please hire me! lol

04.08.09

Up to this moment, these myths are still circling around. I’d say when you need help when it comes to website design, do not waste your time. Hire a professional Graphic Designers. It’s a good investment., truly worth it.

04.08.09

Wow this was an insanely insightful article, I mean a lot of the things mentioned should be common sense but it is occasionally good to refresh yourself.

Honestly this read cleared up and brought back some things I forgot i knew.

Thank you so much Manda,
I am definitely keeping this close.

[...] Here are some links that have more information about myths and facts about Graphic Designers: http://www.creativeopera.com/2009/8-common-graphic-design-myths/ [...]

04.08.09

This article is a brilliant read and has reinforced my thoughts on what we do everyday in reality and what everyone thinks we do. More students need to understand these myths, so that they only go not design if they still love it after knowing these facts, that way the de-valuing of design by those who will work for free or a pittance can slowly be eradicated. But alas, that’s like wishing for gold eggs.

Thanks for sharing this article. This is a must read for up and coming designers who are looking to establish themselves in this competitive market.

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