Farewell, Graphic Designer. We'll Miss You.
June 12, 2008
If you're hiring somebody for a design position... if you're freelancing in the design community... if you're about to make the leap into this burgeoning field... leave the word "graphic" off your title. Just call yourself a designer.
I think it's time to put the title "Graphic Designer" on the top shelf in the closet, turn off the light, and tiptoe softly to bed.
A "Graphic Designer" today may be responsible for a range of graphic applications across various materials, but that's not what we're paid to do anymore. We're asked to consider audience experiences through media. The expression of that consideration is our tangible work, but the volume and quality of thought that creates the work is often just as valuable. Designers can contribute insights and ideas that have ramifications far beyond some ink on a page, or colors on an LCD display.
At the shop where I work, in any given week we may be responsible for creating a motion graphics piece, a Web site, a poster, a 60-page annual, a logo, an advertisement, an email, or a brand experience that extends into a physical presence at an event. Different people at my office have deep competencies in many of these areas, but none of us can be great at all of them -- which is as it should be. But the thinking underlying all of the design as part of those deliverables is always focused in the following way:
1. We think about, over time, what the audience may expect from our clients, and exceed those expectations through what they experience.
2. We consider what happens through the audience interaction with each touch point, and attempt to make them as intuitive and effortless as possible.
3. We see how those interactions/touch points sew themselves into a cohesive story and experience, fostering meaning over the course of a relationship with a brand.
Design as a discipline has broadened to encompass functional considerations in a way that has made the term "media designer" or just plain "designer" carry more (ambiguous) meaning. And I like it that way.
Designers reduce uncertainty and provide meaning, value, and respect for our client's products and services. Adding the term "graphic" doesn't speak to long-form experience. It speaks of responsibility for managing visual graphic quality, which is often reduced by clients to a function of decoration.
I'm not interested in decoration as a sole function of being a designer, and the designers that I work with -- while passionately dedicated to creating the most artful visuals they are capable of achieving -- know that a killer design won't overcome a flawed strategy. Well-designed visuals don't function in the marketplace if they don't speak to a grounded insight into a real human need. Besides, as design tools become more easily used by our clients, our skill sets will overlap, and they'll be telling us to drop the leading by two points on the paragraph styles.
Personally, I have always used Designer, and prefer to say I work in Visual Communication—not to be pretentious, but because that's more accurate to what I do!
Posted by: Meryl | July 09, 2008 at 08:57 AM