Wise words

Isaac was recently asked to give some advice to a woman considering graphic design as a career change. What he wrote was wonderfully true, not just for graphic design but any field of communication in this digital age. I asked him to publish it, but, being the shy one he is, he refused. So I asked if I could publish and he reluctantly agreed. It’s a great read.

You can find him lurking on twitter, and through his website.

Hi (friend),

There are people that will tell you that graphic design is a “saturated field”, and other rotten things about the business being difficult and pointless. Two things:

  1. They are correct.
  2. Ignore them.

The business is saturated because of the proliferation of desktop publishing, which enables anyone with a computer to turn out artwork and documents that are print- and web-ready. But it doesn’t mean they’re any good. The way I see it, the more crap that’s out there, the more the good stuff stands out. And I’m willing to venture that the sheer number of good designers in comparison to the number of people needing design hasn’t changed at all.

Obviously it’s a broad field, and I don’t know if you’d be seeking a position somewhere or freelance work. Either way,

Make a website right away. The best way to get work is through word-of-mouth, when starting out at least, and you need to represent yourself in a way that reflects your style, and your attitude towards work. Your portfolio accomplishes this as well as showing that you’ve done this before. Nobody wants to be your first client. In my experience it’s more important to have good work in your portfolio than big names.

If you need to pad your portfolio, create some finished work for anyone you want, with emphasis on logos and page layouts, as opposed to album covers, for example, because they have no constraints. Doodle a lot, but don’t put your doodles on your website. Unless they’re incredible.

Don’t know how to do web stuff? Learn. It’s hard enough convincing people they need a designer at all (“but I already have Photoshop!”) let alone a designer above and beyond whom they’ll be hiring to build their website. At the very least, you should know how to prepare and optimize graphics for the internet.

Never say “no”. I mean, don’t let your own lack of experience or acumen stop you from landing a decent job if it comes along. If someone wants a website, better you find a friend that will code a website for you, than turn away a client. Split the money, and add the project to your portfolio.

Sometimes say “no”. I’ve turned away clients who would be a nightmare to work with. You’ll get a feel for it, or die trying.

What else can I tell you?

Also I attached an illustration of an old adage.