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Few days back, while I was flying to California to visit one of my very finicky but an old client, I overheard a casual chat between two friends in the backseats. As they were inquiring each other about graphic design so I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation. It went something like this:

Phil: Hey Bob, Do you know anything about graphic designing?
Bob: Yeah, I believe its something related to drawing and sketching things.
Phil: Correct, I’ve heard its art simply done on computer.

To my surprise, I was shocked on hearing such an underestimated and boring perception about graphic designing. Is graphic designing really just art done on computer? Well, this was the question which made me write this article.

Being in graphic designing for past several years, I have learnt my lessons….both good and bad. I hate to be the bearer of the bad part but today I aim to share the dark side of graphic designing with my readers.To my surprise, I was shocked at hearing this perception about graphic designing. Is graphic designing really just art done on computer? Well of course not. This is one of the many design myths circulating the graphic design industry for decades. Being in graphic designing for past several years, I have learnt good enough things about this field….both good and bad. I hate to be the bearer of bad things but today I aim to dicuss the dark side of graphic design. I think it’s hightime you step out your fools’ paradise.

 

1. All Graphic Designers are Rich and Famous:

 
It is a common perception that one makes big money in the field of graphic designing. Although I’m truly flattered that graphic designing is considered as an elite field, but this myth is not true for all graphic designers. Moreover, the newbie designers also misconstrue that going into graphic designing will reap big bucks and fame. Probably derived from the lifestyle of fashion designers, this myth does not hold true for all graphic designers.
 

2. Graphic Designing is Child’s Play:

This is perhaps one of the most evil and damaging myth about graphic design. There is a general graphic designing misconception that it is all about Adobe Photoshop. People think that even a kid who knows his way around Photoshop can do graphic designing. With all due respect, if that was the case, kids playing with toy cars should be racing in the circuit alongside Michael Schumacher. My point here is that, graphic designing is not child’s play and involves extensive experience and thorough research.
 

3. Creativity is Innate, it cannot be attained:

Graphic design is not something that pops out of thin air. Similarly, creativity is also a concept based on experience, knowledge and dedication. Nobody is born with a bundle of creative skills in hand. With exception of a few special cases, every person is born with a clean slate and with equal capabilities. It is the environment that shapes and moulds you into who you are. Creativity requires motivation and dedication which is possible only if you utilize your opportunities and environment correctly.
 

4. Graphic Designing is done 100% on computer:

“Ok, so I have to design a brand identity, let me start my computer and I’ll begin working.” This is another deadly fallacy that surrounds the graphic design world. Graphic designing is not purely done on the computer. If you rely on the PC, your creativity and thinking skills are constrained. Every Graphic design project starts with a manual sketch and brainstorming session done on paper. When the initial concept is ready, then it goes to the computer.
 

5. You Require a Degree to become a Graphic Designer:

“I’m sorry you don’t know how to design because you don’t have a degree…” it’s a sorry state to see that many design firms focus their hiring on the basis of design degrees and not natural talent. It is a fallacy to think that you need a design degree to become a graphic designer. Although I don’t mean to discourage studies and bookish knowledge but graphic designing depends more on the natural talent that a person has. Knowledge is about more tacit than explicit.
 

6. Graphic Designers Will Know Everything:

This myth has spawned from the client side of the graphic design relationship. Clients hold a wrong perception that graphic designers know everything and don’t need to be briefed about the design. This is not true…every designer needs a blueprint of the project they are working on. This is why designers obtain a design brief from their clients.
 

7. Graphic Designers Are Always Right:

Another wicked myth surrounding graphic designers is that they never accept their mistakes and blunders. This is one of the biggest weaknesses of many designers…ego. This false misconception can cause real damage to the reputation of graphic designers. A famous quote by Salvador Dali, says it all:
“Have no fear of perfection, you will never reach it.”

 

8. There is No Difference between a Logo and a Brand:

This is a misconception that I addressed in one of my last weeks’ post titled “Your brand is not just a logo”. Some clients come up and say “I want to build a brand for my business…all I need is a logo.” The reality is otherwise…logo design is just a minor portion of the branding process.
 

9. Graphic Designers Can Repair Computers:

“Hey Buddy, you’re a graphic designer right? Can you fix my computer for me?” I bet this statement would enrage all graphic designers. There is a mass misconception that graphic designers are computer geeks and can fix any computer hardware/software issue. Well folks, the reality is graphic designers are not IT specialists…we may know a few computer related stuff asides graphic design, but that doesn’t make us PC repairman. It would be better if designers are not addressed as IT guys.
 

10. Simple Designs Cost Less Time and Money:

 
This is one client myth that graphic designers face every day. People generally underestimate the value of a design project. They base their valuation on the simplicity of the design and not on the creative and analytical element behind its creation. Let me remind these confused people that minimalism is a design trend that calls for reducing the object to its basic features. This does not make it a simple and cheap design. Behind the simplest of designs is a deep and complex concept. It is equally worthy of reimbursement as a complicated design project is.
 

I hope that my post will clear the misconceptions that are prevalent regarding graphic designing and people will start taking graphic designers and their jobs more seriously. It’s hightime we let people know how much effort we put in. Cheers to all the talented and hard working graphic designers out there. :)

 

Author Charlie B. Johnson

has written Posts 388 .

  1. Harry V. On February 25th, 2011 at 10:06 am
    1

    I would add few more myths:

    11. Graphic designer works only 2-3 hours a day, and usually has huge loft apartment/studio somewhere in Soho, Manhattan
    12. Graphic designer must do web programming, so when you need to build a website for your company it’s more than enough to hire only one person.
    13. Actually…. anybody can do design, so it’s better to hire one good programmer and he will do design as well.

    :)

  1. Todd On February 25th, 2011 at 4:43 pm
    2

    They glamorized the graphic design world to us when we were attending college. Once you’re in the real world, you realize you’re just another corporate peon. Thank goodness I found me exit, and now figured out a way to work for myself in the field.

  1. Justin On February 25th, 2011 at 4:51 pm
    3

    While I agree with 99% of this, education can’t be ignored. I find grammatical errors in almost every post on this website and it drives me insane. If I’m a client that’s looking to spend good money on an advertising campaign or design work, I want to deal with someone that has invested some time in becoming a well rounded professional. There is value in having an education and I don’t blame firms for looking for designers with degrees.

  1. Graphic Designer On February 26th, 2011 at 5:42 am
    4

    10 is topical for me as I recently met with a potential client and she was very keen to point out their desire for ‘simple’ design and therefore a competitive quote. As the saying goes ‘less is more’ and very often takes more!

  1. Dinesan On February 26th, 2011 at 12:25 pm
    5

    I agree with these concepts..

  1. Kevin Wijaya On February 27th, 2011 at 7:23 am
    6

    Another magnificent share, thank you for posting this thing!

    It’s true, most people have misconception about being a graphic designer.

    I hope this will clear those misconceptions little by little.

    Keep up the good work, and thanks for the share! :)

  1. Andretti brown On February 27th, 2011 at 10:13 am
    7

    Very cool and true list

  1. designbastard.com On February 28th, 2011 at 9:04 am
    8

    never saw anyone that tought we where rich :D

    lol @ people who think :
    - Simple Designs Cost Less Time and Money
    - Graphic Designers Can Repair Computers
    - Graphic Designing is Child’s Play

  1. Deepetch On February 28th, 2011 at 9:11 am
    9

    Wonderful stuff from you…….

    Graphic Designing is Child’s Play:

    Yes i agree with you, every one thinks that who know Photoshop can do the things just like that..But things are not like that. Many designers do not know Photoshop 100%, they lack in many tools..Hope people will start thinking of this after working 2 or 4 projects.

    Graphic Designing is done 100% on computer:

    As you mentioned manual sketch plays an important role, yes i agree with you But how may designers does that? If some is going to design the site with out the preliminary step like BLUE PRINT and MANUAL SKETCH will end up in bad design and concept.

    Wonderful stuffs…thanks for sharing.

  1. Albany SEO On February 28th, 2011 at 9:35 am
    10

    Ha! That first one is hilarious. You’re right that lots of people believe that, but it only takes a few years in the business before you start to realize the wool has been pulled over your eyes.

    Nice list, and killer way to start it.

  1. Will On February 28th, 2011 at 10:43 am
    11

    Good article, I agree wholeheartedly expect with the starting on paper issue. I personally don’t see a difference between sketching on paper and sketching with Illustrator for example is that the latter will allow you to augment and expand upon your idea with much greater ease.

  1. schua_ozven On February 28th, 2011 at 1:35 pm
    12

    I completely agree with number 3. I thought it was only me who could work well and be completely inspired on pencil and paper. :)

  1. Custom Logo On February 28th, 2011 at 5:32 pm
    13

    You have made some really good points here – I don’t go anywhere without my art pad and pencils and all of my designs start on paper rather than on Photoshop. And no we don’t all become famous and a brand is more than a logo – so what can be done about changing people’s perceptions about what we do? Your article is a start, thanks for that.

  1. Chicago Marketing Company On February 28th, 2011 at 10:45 pm
    14

    These are so very true. We get the ‘can you fix my hard drive’ questions from clients all the time. Really don’t know how graphic designers got the ‘tech’ wrap. Thanks for the great post.

  1. BigDogStudioX On March 1st, 2011 at 6:28 am
    15

    All very true points. Shame the people who needs to see this probably never will.

  1. Sandi On March 3rd, 2011 at 12:40 am
    16

    This list is perfect! Thank you for posting- I think we’ve come across every single one of these…

  1. Delaware Weight Loss Surgery On March 4th, 2011 at 10:47 am
    17

    Well, I heard of many of the myths there but I never heard of myth no. 9, which I believe to be very funny. One case in which it would be true would be the one in which the person asking to repair their computer would be one of the grandparents, who have seen their grandchild always using it. Besides this, the computer is so much more than design programs.
    The other myth, with being famous would be explained by the fact that people don’t really get in touch with any designers, but they hear about the famous ones, unless they work at an advertising agency, which would not be the case for expressing such a myth. Anyway, myths exist in any job, it’s same like with stereotypes.

  1. Timothy Hughes On March 9th, 2011 at 12:05 pm
    18

    Do most freelance graphic designers use paypal? And…what are some potential problems w/ collecting payment? What if the final piece used by the prospective client is close to one of your designs? When is your art protectable?

  1. marketing quotes On March 14th, 2011 at 1:15 pm
    19

    Thanks for sharing this Charlie – however you shattered my illusion in your first point (that you are not all rich and famous)! :)

  1. Simon On March 21st, 2011 at 9:51 pm
    20

    Great post – esp “Have no fear of perfection, you will never reach it.” – very true! best, Simon at Pixmac

  1. Simon On March 21st, 2011 at 9:53 pm
    21

    nice post – the art of sketching will never die!

  1. Bryan Ruiz On March 22nd, 2011 at 1:10 pm
    22

    This was great to read because I have been a graphic designer for over 7 years and also battle with the notion that I need to get an educational certificate in the filed to establish credibility. I do think its true that natural talent reigns over sitting in a classroom!

  1. Adam Booth On April 4th, 2011 at 5:18 am
    23

    Such valid and totally true points.

    People outside of design believe that designers will have all the answers and will get everything correct first time. Designers admit they are not always right but their decisions are not just plucked from thin air. 99.99% of designers creative decisions are made with a reason in mind that 99.99% of clients do not understand.

    Many designers creativity is constrained by the wants and the needs of the clients who mainly view designers as art school graduates who are more concerned about treating their business as an art project and not a business, which is simply not the case.

    Designers are paid to keep the clients happy and produce the best work for them and their businesses, but many clients would rather pay for a massive logo and as much information as possible thrown at customers and neglect to realise the that will not help the business and should trust in the experience and skills of the designers more.

    Excellent list of frustrating myths connected to any design job.

  1. Bono On April 15th, 2011 at 5:30 am
    24

    I completely agree and is enraged with no. 5

    A lot of companies are so naive that just because in the recent years graphic design has become a study and a field, they think all about graphic design can be learned in school.

    Bah hum bag!

    lol good post! :)

  1. frange On May 13th, 2011 at 1:23 am
    25

    Number 1 and 9 are really funny, but everything on this list is so true..

  1. Bush_Tag On July 1st, 2011 at 4:17 am
    26

    Well the point that graphic designers can repair computers is funny.

  1. jean On July 27th, 2011 at 12:43 am
    27

    Most people think photoshop is as simple as paint.. Doh I hate when people come to me and ask, what program do u use for editing picture. Can I just install it to my computer.? O noo…. Most of them are too underestimate the graphic ppl…

  1. moodcrusher On July 27th, 2011 at 5:06 am
    28

    whack!! suddenly i got hammer on my head ~ T_T

  1. DesignBuddy On February 3rd, 2012 at 3:39 am
    29

    Some good points were addressed in this article but I disagree with one especially. I think the implication that graphic designers are perceived as rich is not one shared by many.

    I think the exact opposite is true; most people think many designers are broke, which is why so many people ask us to design stuff for free or for such little money. They think we are desperate. Maybe this stems from the fact that everyone knows a “designer” or two who simply can’t find work or can’t find a job in an overly saturated field. Hey, I could be wrong, just my two cents.

  1. Designer by Design On November 2nd, 2013 at 6:35 pm
    30

    I agree with most of what you have said here. However, I disagree with the statement that everyone is born with a blank slate and only our experiences make us what we are. I have been drawing and creating art since before I could talk. However, my parents have trouble with stick figures. Another example from my life is that I can’t stand the sight of blood, but my father was a fireman and took me on numerous trips out with his fellow firemen to gruesome accidents. I never developed the ability to stomach the sight of blood, mine or someone else’s. We have innate abilities that were designed in us before we took our first breath. And I believe you even hinted at this when you made your statement about degrees and education. Thank you for your post. I enjoyed reading it.

  1. Kate On December 14th, 2013 at 8:16 am
    31

    I totally agree with Harry V. in first comment. Clients think that a one person can do all the work that actually requires minimum two: a programmer and a designer.

    In fact, I do agree with most of the comments and with this post. Excellent list!


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