Dribbble is Ruining Design (For Me)

Ryan Hamrick
Jun 20, 2014 · 4 min read

There are a lot of posts out there about the “dribbblification” of design and how harmful the site is to our industry. They’re so true, man. I figured since I agree so strongly with those designers/sudden writers, it’d probably be a good idea for me to slap some words together and just reiterate all the same points for good measure. Besides, it’s about time I got some attention for something Dribbble-related.

There was a time when you had to be somebody to be somebody, you know? You had to pay dues, and when you were done with that, you paid some more dues. You invested a large chunk of the rest of your life’s earnings on a proper design education, and when you were done with that, if you kissed enough ass, you might even be lucky enough to land a gig at an agency or ad shop that paid enough for you to splurge on the good ramen every now and again.

“Pay your dues.”

Then after a few years of uncredited work in the name of your company (aka dues), if they felt like you were ready, they might actually acknowledge your existence to a few people.

And you’re in, man.

But now, thanks to Dribbble, any schmuck can become a successful designer. You don’t even need to show up with a following, you can just “build one” with frequent, “quality posts” and being “active in the community”. *eyeroll*

I can’t even set up a meeting with an agency or client to present my printed portfolio without them patronizing me with a, “Cool, do you have a Dribbble profile we could look at, first?”

What do they take me for, a like-hungry amateur trying desperately to make it to the Popular page? Please. I hardly ever got likes on the few Dribbble shots I posted before giving up on the platform, but you don’t see me complaining. I’ve paid my dues, bro, I don’t need your confirmation.

I’d call it a popularity contest, but I don’t even know who any of these kids are. I surely don’t remember seeing any of their names on the winners lists of any of the design awards I’ve paid a fee to be considered for.

“Popularity contest.”

Real designers like me are out here trying to make a living, dutifully responding to RFPs, begging for meetings, you know—following in the footsteps of those that came before us. Real designers who could bank on their expensive education and due-paying to keep them in the public eye, and keep those without the same advantages “below the fold”, to use a still-perfectly-relevant expression.

They didn’t need to worry about a site like Dribbble (which was clearly created as a vehicle for design critique and feedback, regardless of what its founders keep trying to tell us), being misused and abused to propel these nobodies right between them and all the good design jobs and projects.

I’ve paid damn good money (and dues)—and will continue to, indefinitely—to be better than these “Dribbblers” (ugh), but thanks to Rich Thornett and Dan Cederholm, there’s nothing stopping my potential clients from seeing these damn kids as easily or more than me. So what if they’re far more “naturally talented” than I am; I bet they couldn’t tell you shit about color theory, and I guarantee you they don’t know their ancient and medieval art history. You know, the important things you learn with a real design education.


I motion that we all boycott Dribbble. Then we can get back to a world where if a client wants to find real talent, they needn’t look any further than their artist representation agency of choice or the “past winners” lists of any respectable design award organization.

Let’s compete for jobs by seeing who has the best flash website again, or better yet, shoot out PDF portfolios like a true professional.

To the scrubs undeservedly scooping up all the great design work currently thanks to Dribbble, this will be good for you. You’ll feel so much better about your success once you’ve struggled a bit and paid your dues. Just imagine how much more talented you’ll be after a few years of grunting it out under a proper mentor while they take the credit and take their time to decide when you’re ready be your own designer. You’ll build skill and character. Win-win.

“Dues, dues, dooby due-due, doodily dudey dues.”

Disclaimer for the satirically impaired:

Ryan Hamrick does not have a formal design education, or an informal one, for that matter. He began his design career at the age of 27 (he’s now 30) from his home in a city where he literally knew no one, let alone anyone in the design industry. Ryan has worked with companies like Target, Capital One, Samsung, Sutter Home and countless others, all without a design degree, an agent, or any prestigious awards. He owes a great deal of the modest success he’s enjoyed thus far to the inspiration, interaction and avenue for exposure made available to him (and anyone else who chooses to seize it) by the very existence of Dribbble, and often uses his account as a sort of documentary of his growth and progress over the last few years, and would love for you join him on his path: http://dribbble.com/Hamrick

Thank you, Dribbble.


    Ryan Hamrick

    Written by

    Founder & Letter Director at ALFA — Advocates for the Letter Focused Arts — http://ryanhamrick.com

    Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
    Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
    Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade