Graphic Design Today

Pretty much any freelance graphic designer who has any real experience can describe the same story about the jobs available nowadays:

By: Charles UFarley
We accept poor paying jobs in exchange for being treated even more disrespectfully than ever before. Anyone who goes into this dying field today needs to have his head examined. Why? In exchange for providing a highly skilled service, we are treated like retarded charity cases, and told we should be grateful for as much as we get.

I continually see job advertisements which expect the applicant to have years of experience in many different areas, software and platforms, as well as be willing to do management, clerical work, train other employees and sometimes even supply clients for the employer. Even supply printer contacts that save  more than half my salary annually. The salary usually offered is less than respectable.
The graphic design field is probably the only field where highly skilled professionals are expected to do the work of several people, additional jobs that should be filled by other employees, and often odd and menial jobs, too. In fact, many employers believe that anyone (secretaries, proofreaders, clerical interns) can do graphic design if they are given the software.

The people making these decisions feel that they are perfectly reasonable in demanding more from the people who create the materials their companies produce, but it‘s ridiculous. Would they hire a doctor on the condition that he also had to do dental work and give massages? Somewhere there’s a doctor that would, because he’s terrible and desperate for work. In fact, that’s the case with a lot of the employed designers I meet these days–they’re spread so thin that they have no particular ability in any one area.
As a result, a lot of the graphic work out there sucks. I’ve seen subway posters with black type over dark pictures, TV ads that just don’t make sense, unproofed newspaper articles, and other stupid, amateurish mistakes that would never have slipped by just a few years ago.
In fact, hiring for these “highly skilled jobs” is frequently done by secretaries who simply run a word-search on the resumes they receive, looking for the latest software to be listed, don’t read the individual’s experience, and usually have only a vague idea of what the job requires, anyway.
How has it gotten this bad? I think the beginning of the end started in the 80s with the rise of desktop publishing. Small business has been infected with the notion that they can get their receptionist to do their design in house pushing out bullshit design to fill the same shoes. And, over and over again, I’ve found a certain irritation (lack of respect) towards creatives. Over the years this attitude marginalize our profession.

At the same time, freelancers themselves have to accept their share of the blame. A professional HAS to draw the line somewhere, to act with a little dignity.  I’ve had peers who didn’t really know their job too well (or at all!), but that’s OK with me. I don’t mind someone learning on the job, and everyone had to start someplace. But if you’re already a skilled professional you owe it to yourself and others in your profession, not to sell it short or to sell your own dignity. There has to be a line below which you will not go. It’s about self respect. The thing a lot of people don’t understand, particularly younger artists is that it’s a progressions–for every little bit you surrender today, you will be expected to surrender a little more tomorrow. Everyone thinks that they’re smart, making a deal, playing the game to get ahead, but it’s a rigged game. What you give up today, everyone will have to give up tomorrow, and then you will have to give up more. The people who are hired for higher positions often have no prior experience. There is very little upward mobility in this field anymore.
The general public has a lot to answer for. Either by excepting crap from under qualified designers, or trying to do their deign themselves with little to no understanding of creative design processes or practices. This usually comes from a poor appreciation of  what good deign really is. And their happy with that.  What chance do we have until we can educate the public how to respect our profession for what it should be and the hard work and the necessary creative talent to make it happen.
Where is it going?  Only a handful of my own clients who know my abilities and respect how much design I can do for them. Try finding your own personal way to raise awareness and deal with the situation. At the very least, start by educating  your own clients. If enough of us do this we my have a chance of improving work conditions.  So when you hear “ My wife’s (husband’s, girlfriend’s, boyfriend’s, friend’s) 12-year-old nephew can do it.” Take the time to explain what real graphic deign is. Our work as creatives  is a reflection of our self, our life experiences, our observations. Over time , The more experiences we have, the better our deign skills become. This is not something you can just pickup and do in 5 minites. if you think that, what standard of work do you expect?
Committed Graphic Designers put just same amount of blood, sweat and tears into their jobs any other profession. The general public are drawn to purchase products though the display of our creativity. But were are still looked upon as unnecessary. Things just don’t add up!

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