Graphic Designers: Lose Your Soul.

I regularly browse Amazon for the latest must-reads in the field of graphic design. I’m sure you want to know my favorites, but rather, I’m going to tell you one I haven’t read. How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul. You can read it, I’m not telling you not to; I could even have a very wrong impression as to what the book is about. But, as a professional designer and art director, I can tell you, your career will digress if you hold onto that soul of yours.

Now you’re thinking… “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The term “commercial artist” has become obsolete. Creatives today are in favor of the term graphic designer, or graphic artist. But the fact of the matter is we are by definition, commercial artists; that is, producers of art used in advertising and selling. What this means, is our artwork serves a purpose, and while we hate it with every bone in our body, the purpose takes precedence over the beauty. The designers who have become the major names in the industry, while maintaining their “soul” so to speak, are few and far between. David Carson comes to mind. He risked compromising legibility, and breaking every rule we know, and likely, he got push back from clients. But it worked, for him.

I have worked with a number of fabulous designers in my career. I admire their creativity constantly. But the ones who remain successful and do not become jaded, are the designers who understand the purpose of their work. While aspects like visual hierarchy, aesthetics, negative space and color harmony should never be disregarded, recognize that what your client is trying to sell, do, or say, is priority over designing the way YOU, the designer, want it to look. So if they ask you to change your Tiffany blue to puke green, just do it. You will be respected by colleagues, appreciated by account managers, praised by clients, and save yourself a load of stress.

Oh, and don’t forget to save out the Tiffany blue version for your portfolio.


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PS: Can I suggest your next read? How about 7 Habits for Highly Effective Designers

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