I spent three years studying Product Engineering before moving on to direct honours undergraduate studies in Industrial Design.
Currently, I am a somewhat newly minted Senior Designer after seven years in the industry which makes this the 11th year in my tolerate-loathe relationship with Design.
We’re all so ambitious when we start out and so naive. Anyway, you learn fast how things truly work in the big, bad, real world. Oh, you learn real fast. And that’s when some people walk away.
Most of my university classmates have long abandoned Design with her subjective and tempestuous disposition. I believe that out of a class of 30, only a literal handful remain in the Design industry.
This industry is low-paying, with long hours, missed meals, broken promises and perhaps the best and worst of all, having to deal with clients that have you wondering who they slept with to get their jobs. I do not say that to be a jerk but with sheer bewilderment at the ridiculous demands I receive on a daily basis.
Of course, these conditions do not apply to every Designer and there are those who love their jobs and if you are one of them, I really am happy for you.
Why then am I still here given that I’ve listed nothing but cons in my previous statements? I wish I had a clear answer but I don’t. I don’t necessarily like Design but I happen to be good enough at it.
I don’t love or hate my job. It is what it simply is to me, a job. I have a set of rules, a code if you like, that helps to maintain a decent sanity level.
1. To be a realistic designer, one must have the ability to copy and adapt relentlessly. (Note that I am not advocating plagiarism. Inspiration comes from many sources.)
2. Be punctual and respect your deadlines. Even if you are not always up to scratch with award-winning concepts, your diligence may just save you.
3. Sometimes, when a client says no, it really means no. Understanding your client is crucial in knowing how far you can nudge them pass boundaries.
4. If your initial instinct tells you that it sucks, it’s probably does.
5. If people are a d*ck to you, feel free to send them work one minute before you leave the office for the day. (Juvenile but I’m “merely designer how doesn’t know anything” so there.)
6. Your contractors* are your closest allies. Never trust the AE. Or the CD for that matter.
*This is the term used in the country I reside in, otherwise known as the superheroes who bringing your pixels to life in glorious physical objects.
I wrote this mainly for myself as a remainder and also, to be brutally honest, to discourage others form following this path. It has left me numb to the point where I will basically design anything you want, no matter how fugly as long as you pay me on time.
After so countless honest attempts at trying to divert a client from disaster (the project of shame that never sees the light of a digital portfolio and to which you deny all associations), they simply refuse to budge and this brings me to the last code:
7. Sometimes, it’s not worth the money. Move on.