So I’m starting to notice an interesting trend with designers: They’re not happy. Now is not a good time to be looking for a job, but as big as the design community seems, it can get small, and well, people hear things. I was recently talking to a college design friend of mine and she told me of a friend of hers who was an English major (mind you, no graphic design training ever) who just got a job at a MAJOR publishing house designing book jackets. Fair? Well it certainly doesn’t seem so.
That situation is a designer’s worse nightmare (well, at least tied with the use clip art) and this phenomenon seems to be happening more and more. I know that since working at my current location, many new graphic design candidates don’t have any design credentials and their portfolio reflects that. But then when I bring this issue up, I’m looked at like I’m the crazy one. I’ve found that in the world of graphic designers there are two separate schools of thought when talking credentials. One school says: It makes no difference if you’ve been to art school and had any training. If the portfolio work is good, then it’s good. The second school says: Formal training is valuable and necessary to give a designer a good creative base and some experience with working with clients. I come from the second school. I think the first school of thought is the exception to the rule. There are those out there who just pick up graphic design and who are great. But without some formal training, or an apprenticeship even, I just don’t see how they would have truly developed work or personal style.
I think everyone is creative in their own way (that’s the future teacher talking in me) but I don’t think that means that everyone is a graphic designer. But with new online schools offering people to become graphic designers in 12 months or less, well I’m certainly stopping to ponder this point more and more. Now regardless that I’ve said all this, it doesn’t mean that people without formal design training are going to stop applying for graphic design jobs or putting work out there. So the solution? Try not to let it get you down (easier said than done, I know. I really do). There are going to be situations such as the one I described above that just DOES NOT make logical sense. However, remember that your degree does count and that you worked hard to get it. Most likely you met many of your best colleagues and friends in that program, learned that fine craftsmanship is a skill honed after many hours of working (not a given), and that there is a whole community out there to support you. As for getting that stellar job, I have a feeling when the right future employer comes along, they’ll be able to tell the difference between you and someone that thinks comic sans is an appropriate font.