Almost a year ago, I shared some graphic design myths with you in: “8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed.” Since that time, I’ve come across another 8 myths that need to be uncovered.
Myth #9: Graphic Designers Fix Computers
I’m not sure what it is, but there is a mass confusion about the limitless knowledge of graphic designers. Apparently because I work on a computer all day, I also know how to take one apart and build it from scratch. I know how to set up networks, load memory, rid computers of viruses, and use any and all programs — no matter if they are design-related or not.
Graphic designers are DESIGNERS. We are not IT specialists. We are not members of the Geek Squad. And we are not software developers or sales associates at your local computer store. Please stop calling us for help with your computers.
Myth #10: Designers Prefer Trades to Cash
I don’t know why, but it seems that the Barter System is alive and well in the world of graphic design. What is it about the services we provide as designers that so few people think we deserve to be paid in cash? Everyone wants to make a trade! If you design my website, I’ll make you a pie. If you create posters for our event, we’ll give you a free ticket to attend.
Designers don’t do what we do for fun. This is our job! We design websites and posters so that we can buy food and electricity. We take cash, and checks, and credit cards, and paypal payments. Not pies. Would you pay your hairstylist, doctor, or mechanic in pies? No? Then, please give designers the same respect and hire them only when you have the budget to pay with real money.
Myth #11: Designers Love to Haggle
Let’s get one more money myth out of the way. It has become a popular belief that purchasing a website is like purchasing a car. Potential clients ask, how much is this going to cost? We ask them questions, get an idea of what they want, put together an estimate, and send it over. And what comes back? Not a simple “Let’s do it” or “Sorry, that’s out of my price range,” but a counter-offer! What?!?!
This myth has become so out of hand, that I’m about ready to change my system. Instead of telling a potential client how much it will cost to do what they want, I need to start asking them what their budget is — and then telling them what they can get for that price. That may give me a break from this myth — and save me and my potential clients a lot of time.
Myth #12: There is a quick-fix Filter or Plugin for almost every Situation
Surprisingly, this is one myth that I hear from both designers and non-designers. I’ve had both students and professionals ask me how to achieve a certain look or build a specific functionality, and as I’m describing the steps they interrupt with, “Isn’t there an easier way?” Isn’t there a magic button I can push to give my website the grunge look? Isn’t there a special setting that will turn my psd into a working website with no work on my part?
Non-designers are equally guilty of this myth. I get a lot of, “Why is that taking so long?” and “This should be a quick change (or a quick project),” because obviously if I have Photoshop, I have a magic genie to finish every job in a flash.
Design takes time. And a lot of hard work, concentration, and attention to detail. Yes, there are some filters to give you a basic look. But, if you want to push any treatment to a professional level, there will be serious work involved. And, yes, there are some plugins that are a major benefit in web design — but they still usually have to be customized for the project at hand. The truth is, if you see something, and are impressed by it, somebody put a lot of time and work into it. No magic involved.
Myth #13: Drawing with a Mouse is Easier than Drawing with a Pencil
You may be surprised by this one. It sounds like a myth, right? But I hear it all of the time from students: “I don’t know how to draw. But it’s okay, I’m going to work on a computer.” What makes people think that it’s easier to draw with a mouse? Chances are, if you can’t draw with a pencil, your skills aren’t going to improve when you start drawing with a mouse. Please, all of you aspiring designers, get a pencil and a sketchbook you love, and practice drawing. Those skills are going to help you tremendously when you have to switch over to creating art with a mouse.
Myth #14: Designers don’t need General Education Classes
There are so many students in design school loving their design courses, and barely scraping by in their math, English, and history classes — rolling their eyes, sketching during lectures, and ignoring their instructors. Why? Because somewhere along the line, the unfortunate and untrue news has spread that general education courses are unnecessary for designers. Not only are they necessary, they could make or break your career.
How is it that students expect to successfully create an 8-panel roll-fold brochure, or a complex tradeshow booth without math? And, if you ever expect to own your own business, those math skills are going to come in handy when you have to do your own estimates, billing and taxes.
Writing and grammar skills may be the most underrated of the general education classes. I can’t imagine that any designer will manage to get through his or her career without doing at least a little copywriting, and without doing a whole lot of proofing. And, how will you ever make a convincing sales pitch or present a concept to a client without the skills you’ll acquire in speech class?
Even the classes that seem completely out of the realm of design — science, history, and social study classes — will be vital to your career. As a designer, you have to be a chameleon — creating a website for the finance industry one day, and working on a brochure for the construction industry the next. EVERY one of those classes is going to be helpful to you in your career. Please don’t take them for granted.
Myth #15: Designers are Mind Readers
Occasionally people have a hard time communicating their thoughts. And, that’s okay. But, it does make the job of the designer very difficult. Sometimes impossible. “I want a logo, but I don’t know what I want. I’ll know it when I see it.” So, you want me to just keep creating logos until you find one you like? How many years do you expect this to take?
Designers aren’t mind readers. We don’t know you hate the color yellow or that clouds give you nightmares. I believe it is our job, as designers, to ask as many questions as we can. But it is hard to cover everything, and sometimes you (the client) aren’t very good at describing what you want. THIS is why most designers will do more than one composition design. I personally do two out of the box, and then use the feedback from those to work on a third that will hopefully be a home run. All we ask as designers, though, is that you be a little patient if we don’t create a perfect layout or logo on the first try — we aren’t mind readers. We just try to be.
Myth #16: Design is so Easy that Anyone can Learn it in a One-Hour Session & We Would LOVE to Teach You!
This myth is the one that bothers me the most. I went to college for four years (and have quite a bit of debt to show for it), and worked two —sometimes three — jobs at a time while I was starting out as a designer. I read every design book and design blog I could get my hands on (and I still do). I’ve been working and teaching in the design industry for over twelve years. Twelve! And, I get this all of the time: “I don’t want to pay you to do it. Couldn’t you just show me how to do it?”
No. I can’t, and I won’t. Go to school, get good grades, purchase and read every book you can get your hands on, complete every tutorial you come across, purchase the programs and equipment, write the lesson plans and teach the classes, climb the ladder, and spend all of your spare time studying, sketching, and learning. After all of that, you should be able to handle design on your own. Then give me a call. I’ll set you up with my other clients so that you can teach them all you’ve learned in a single one-hour session.