Nowadays I am retired, yet I have been a graphic designer for 35 years. There hardly was a day I felt reluctant to go to my studio to start my day. It goes without saying that the profession is still part of my heart.
The world has changed hugely in those 35 years, as you can imagine. After all, everything changes all the time.
The question “Is graphic design a good career choice” was frequently asked of me, both by my clients and by students and interns. Despite all the changes, I could always answer with a resounding yes.
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Table of Contents
Is graphic design a good career?
If you’re creative, have a sense of composition, proportion and colour, and have a business mind, graphic design is a great career path.
Developments in graphic design
In the 16th century, a printer was also a publisher, graphic designer, a typesetter, and often also a bookbinder.
Gradually there were more and more specializations, which were practised by different people. When I started, there were even specializations within the graphic design profession.
During my working life, that tendency has been completely reversed. Due to digitization, everyone is doing everything again.
The investments are considerably smaller than 40 years ago. Having a computer and a good printer will get you started.
10 Aspects that make my profession attractive
According to communication specialists, a message is attractive to someone if it is fun, interesting, educational, worthwhile, intriguing, distinctive, relaxing, entertaining, inspiring or amusing.
As far as I am concerned, this not just applies to communicating but also to occupation and my own profession has all those characteristics. Let’s observe.
“Will you come and drive the tram?” our client GVB, a local transport organization, asked in 1998. “Sure! Nice!” my 3 employees and I replied. So the 4 of us went to Amsterdam for – as we believed – a sightseeing tour on the tram.
The moment we boarded, we discovered we were supposed to drive that tram ourselves!
Oops! Oh, oh!
Such a cool and fun ride we had. I did not really see much of Amsterdam that day, busying myself with the speed/brake handle and worrying people would get themselves beneath the wheels. But it was a studio trip we never forgot.
A graphic designer makes corporate identities for a variety of businesses. So I have designed for a machine factory, trainers, a garage, several multinationals, PR agencies, a bank, the government (local as well as provincial as well as national), the police, coaches, NGOs, healthcare agencies, real estate, schools, and numerous small businesses.
Even a monastery was on the list. Something I particularly thought was hilarious, as I am an atheist and a woman. They were one of my sweetest clients, I can add.
It is so interesting to be able to go in-depth into all those industries.
A good graphic designer is able to explain complex matters in a clear manner by means of text and/or images.
The most obvious example of this is infographics. They are very educational.
Another educational aspect is having interns. I had a lot of them during the years and not only could I teach them a lot, but they also taught me of course. This way I kept abreast of the latest trends and techniques.
This really is one of the funniest blog posts about my profession I know of. It takes some time to read it all, but it’s worth the effort. Hilarious.
A manual that is printed in an easy-to-read font is considered an easy-to-perform task. A manual in a difficult-to-read font is seen as a difficult task. This way you can influence your readers’ perception the way you want it. (Research: Song & Schwarz, 2009)
An unexpected example is the font choice of a restaurant. Using a difficult-to-read font gives the cook a knowledgeable and expert image. Candlelight is not only romantic from that perspective.
Do well-designed logos have hidden messages? Many of them have, as you can see in these 30 examples.
I often had a relaxing cup of coffee with my clients and potential customers. We would set up a discussion on how great graphic design is and I showed my portfolio!
Other great activities are joining networks and talking with colleagues, and giving lectures about graphic design and its implications. Although the latter is not relaxing for everyone.
I still enjoy myself during long car rides by evaluating trucks and their lettering. Marvellous! I usually have a strong opinion about it as well. Meaning that most of them are terrible at getting their message across.
Look at this one. It doesn’t say TRANS but T R ANS. The website positioned the company as modern but have a peek at that old-fashioned horse and carriage. Is that making the right statement about how fast the company’s transportation will be?
I regularly gave myself themed assignments, and later when I had a staff, at them as well. That was wonderful. Working on a project without a deadline and without customer interference.
For years I worked on an alphabet project. This allowed me to try out techniques without the risk of damaging a customer’s order. That experiment inspired both myself and my colleagues.
Signs are often amusing. I encountered this example in Mons, Belgium, and I couldn’t phantom which direction I had to go. I asked my Facebook readers which direction the centre of the city was and they got confused as well.
What people ad to signs is even more fun. The creativity that results when people see something and react to it is wonderful to me.
Have a look here at some creative additions. I think they’re hilarious!
Do or did you have a great profession like mine? What is it? Let me know in the comment box below. It’s always interesting to know what everyone is doing.
This article is an update. Originally published on 20-08-2015.