During the good 'ole days of college my prof and Yoda, Dan, handed us this little treasure. He articulated that the hardest part of being a graphic designer wasn't choosing color options nor fonts. He carried on on pronouncing that the most arduous portion of being a designer wasn't establishing that your customers web page appeared coherent across the countless web browsers, OS and computer monitor combinations. Nor was the application of press-checking a print project while attempting to meet the clients anticipations the most challenging component.
The most difficult and challenging part of being a graphic designer in the information age was proving one's self worth to oneself and hoping to get a little glint of positive reinforcement occasionally. This has been my experience in the 13 years since I first doing graphic design on an old Pentium 75 with 16mb of RAM. In the information age, every kid with a computer and an internet connection can download any version of Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark, Flash, Dreamweaver and Final Cut Pro within a few hours time. These are the kids that continue to make our jobs as trained professionals increasingly difficult. Because these tools are so readily available to anyone with time to kill and a little determination, these folks can now call themselves "graphic designers" or "web designers" or "video editors" or "photographers". I'd bet my big toe that any of you reading this can think of at least two people in your family that have self-appointed themselves one of those preceding titles; a cousin, a brother, a sibling or even a neighbor probably call themselves one of those titles.
This phenomena isn't restricted to only marketing related businesses. Audio engineering, computer aided design, 3D animation, motion graphics, copy writing, film making, video game creation and many others all fall into this category of careers that the general public think that anyone with a computer and a piece of software can now do from their mothers basement. FOR FREE. It makes it very difficult for those of us who have been doing this for longer than a month to find sustainable work. We are not only competing with these "kids" but advertising agencies and other professional companies and agencies all fighting for the same piece of pie. In this economy the pie has become increasingly smaller and smaller.
I picked out a career in creative services as I believed that it would grant me the autonomy to flex my creative muscle and help bring a business much needed guidance. I was enthusiastic about it for a few years then landed my 1st "real" job with a small design studio in Nashville, TN. When I say small, I mean microscopic. It was me and a veteran designer that manned the creative ship into the seas of ignorant clients. The year was 2000 and the United States economy was persisting a recession; not different from the recession we're facing today, but revenue was still stringent for the record companies where the vast bulk of our work arose from. Not only was the recession bruising business, but the record labels were realing from the loss of gross sales from the basal music consumer as they recognised they could begin to download an album that retailed for $17.99 for free. The terror in the breeze was tangible as we walked through the heavy doors of Capitol Records Nashville. You could visualize it in the executives eyes right next to costly rhinoplasty that the chief exec had just bought.
So, here we are, 10 years later, and the creative services market has continued to decline as a result of illegal piracy of music, movies and software. The jobs are harder to find and the pool of creative types has deepened exponentially. My confidence as one of these creative types has continually dropped as we all fight over the pie and my bills continue to rise. I think I'll go drive a bus.
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