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You Know What Grinds My Gear?

How most non-design professionals think graphic design is an easy-going job.  Whenever I introduce myself as a designer, the first thing you might hear is “Wow that’s cool, your job seems very chill,” and my profession automatically gets pigeon-holed as a lighthearted career.  As if all I do is play with paints and draw cute or abstract things. In some rare cases, I bump to clients or companies who expects me to work for dirt-cheap, as if the education and experience I earn are all handed down to me for free.

What people fail to realize is the path to becoming a great designer is just as hard as any other degree, like an engineer or mathematician. First of all, one has to examine the term graphic design. Graphic as in an imagery and Design as in something created with intended purpose.

In other times, I would hear people tell me “But my ten year old niece or nephew can use Photoshop as well, he drew me this…” – In which I mentally cut them off, and start thinking. I think, “Well.. that’s nice, and I’m sure s/he is in some sense, but just because someone knows how to use a wrench doesn’t make them a capable plumber.” It is such hoshposh to believe that anyone can just boot up Photoshop and starts pressing buttons and end up with a great design.


Despite what some addlepated simpleton might believe. It takes years of self-education and knowledge to achieve a good understanding of design and a lifetime to master it. I did not choose to be a graphic designer just to be lumped in with ten years old whose hobby is to create kitsch imagery and Instagram photo filter “masterpieces.” Everything I do as a designer has a purpose and should be taken seriously, and not tarnished or taken for granted. My work involves psychology to understand the intended audience and how to imagine what others cannot and through tenacity deliver what is possible.

It’s really “amazing” how people will trust their car mechanic that’s getting paid at least $50 an hour for labor, but would only be willing to spend minimum wage or worst ask it for free and trust that someone to create their brand’s public image. But I digress, do yourself and your co-designers a favor. If you are a serious designer say no to cheap or free design, this not only devalues you as a designer but also devalues design as a career, it also makes your work feel unimportant regardless if it is the next big thing.

If you have the same experience share your story by posting a comment below.