Should I Be a Graphic Designer? 6 Questions You Should Be Asking First
The collection of pamphlets you browse through while waiting for your daughter’s dentist appointment, a parenting website graphic that attracts your attention while scrolling through your newsfeed, or that billboard promoting a candidate for the next election: You are constantly surrounded by visuals designed to grab your attention and communicate a message that sticks in your mind.
Perhaps you have found yourself evaluating the font in that pamphlet, appreciating the layout of that parenting website or knowing that political billboard could be improved if a different color combination had been used.
You love to create, and your office job just isn’t cutting it anymore. You know it’s time for a change, and you’ve heard that graphic design is a great way to use your artistic inclinations. “Should I be a graphic designer?” is a question you are contemplating. However, changing careers is risky, and you want to make sure this field is for you.
We’re here to help! After consulting multiple professionals in this field, we came up with a list of questions to help you decide if graphic design is a good fit.
If you’re considering a career in graphic design, ask yourself …
When considering something as important as pursuing a career, a little introspection goes a long way. Take the time to consider the following questions:
1. Am I versatile?
“I wear all hats. I am the sales. I am the administration. I am the accounting, the quality assurance and I am the designer,” says Rebecca Rausch, a self-employed graphic designer at Neon Lizard Creative.
If you decide to start up your own business as a designer, as many people do, you will have both the challenge and the opportunity to take on many roles at the same time.
Even if you choose to join a company instead of starting your own, you will most likely be working on projects for diverse clients simultaneously. You will be juggling multiple projects and various customer preferences. Your mind will need to be able to focus on generating a formal graphic for a fancy restaurant menu one day and creating an eye-catching brand for the latest microbrewery during the next.
2. Do I embrace change?
“The roles of a graphic designer are changing, which is a splendid thing,” Fahy says. “Remember there is a learning curve that doesn’t ever stop once you start designing. You master one concept only to discover something new to learn”
The exponentially growing and transforming world of technology has an enormous impact on graphic designers. Are you excited to learn about the latest features in design software? Will you make time to learn about a new technique that will make managing your workload more efficient? If you resist change, you can put yourself at a competitive disadvantage and hurt your bottom line.
3. Am I patient?
As much as designers would love it, a simple project where the designer is given free reign and the client loves their work with zero revisions just isn’t that common. You’ll have to spend time dealing with difficult-to-interpret feedback and clients whose priorities may shift mid-project.
While there are ways to keep things running smoothly between you and your clients, you will still need to be patient as a designer. Every client and project is different, and they all can end up requiring multiple revisions and changes before everyone is satisfied.
4. Am I a team player?
It’s true graphic designers spend a good amount of their time working alone as they produce new materials, but production time is only a portion of the job. The rest of their work relies on strong interpersonal skills.
It’s import to be able to negotiate ideas and concepts with a client while at the same time being able to contribute to the success of the company that employs you, according to Kirstyn Potter, Design Lead at Glance Creative.
At any given point in your career, you could find yourself collaborating with various developers, working with another designer on a project or asked to lead a group of fellow designers. This means graphic designers need to balance the desires of their clients and coworkers while asserting their own professional opinion on how a project would be most visually appealing. This can be challenging—design is a subjective field and opinions are just that, opinions. You’ll need a bit of diplomatic tact and a willingness to listen, even if you disagree.
5. Can I handle a little criticism?
“The biggest challenge is learning to take criticism,” Susannah Kabuiku, Senior Digital Designer at Selesti says. “A designer ultimately needs to respect the client’s wishes and reach a compromise on issues that arise. When you take pride in your work, this can be hard to swallow.”
As a graphic designer, your ideas and designs will always be out there for others to see—and with that comes criticism. This can be both good and bad. Quality, thoughtful criticism can lead to professional growth if you’re willing to accept it. The key is the ability to take criticism in stride. Every designer takes their lumps, the best take something positive away from when they fail.
6. Am I a problem solver?
“The most rewarding aspect of being a graphic designer is being able to design a solution to a problem,” says Becky Putnam, Graphic Designer at Seoplus+. “A client comes to you with a request: They need a business card, a logo, any number of things. You have to come up with a solution.”
Each project you encounter as a graphic designer is a chance to solve a problem for a customer. Some requests will inevitably be more challenging than others. If you have a mindset that perceives problems as exciting opportunities, you will probably be successful in meeting your client’s requirements even if it takes many attempts and edits.
Is graphic design the career for you?
Now that you’ve taken the time to consider the questions above, you should be feeling much better about your ability to answer the biggest question ahead of you—should I become a graphic designer? A flair for creating visually appealing designs can take you quite a ways, but the traits outlined above can help take your career to the next level.
If you think you’re ready to make the change, there’s still more to learn. Read about the ins and outs of the graphic design field in our article, “What I Wish Someone Had Told Me BEFORE Becoming a Graphic Designer.”