Working in the Field of Visual Communication
Graphic Design is a very wide field in Visual Communication. There are many areas of employment that one can take, such as being a; freelancer, in-house designer, agency designer, client side designer, partnership, UX and UI designer etc. Although all areas are in the Graphic Design bracket, they come with slightly different aspects within each area, for example some being more illustrative than others or the relationship with the client being different every time.
To extend on the specific job roles and career paths within Graphic Design a freelancer is a Designer who is commissioned to work for people who contact them for work, a freelancer does all job roles that would be carried out by many different people in an agency, but they do them on their own. For example, a freelancer would be the Account Director, Creative Director, Designer, Copywriter and the Office Manager. All the things that are done in every projects of work are decided and designed by solely the freelancer.
Being a freelancer has many perks such as; being your own boss. This means that the designer doesn’t feel pressured when working to deadlines as they will not have people constantly breathing down their necks for work to be finished. Although this is a huge attraction to being a freelancer this is also a drawback if the freelancer isn’t a very motivated person therefore they may start to slack on deadlines and upset clients which could damage their reputation.
Being a freelancer also allows you to set your own hours of work, if you don’t want to get out of bed until 12, then you don’t have to. Your workspace is in your home most of the time so there isn’t a long commute to the desk. But like the above disadvantage the designer could get lazy with being able to get easily distracted with other things at home.
With being a freelancer this can provide many skills on running a successful business which will come in handy if the designer wants to start up their own company and have employees work for them.
An agency designer works in a company where clients contact the agency to design work for them. The agency usually has companies which are recurring customers and will bring in the most money for the agency. The agency will have job roles that allow the employees to focus only on the one thing. For example, the Account Director is the communication between the client and the designer, the Account Director will help keep relationships good and make sure that the designer meets the clients brief, concerned with finances, company planning and organisation. Therefore, the designer will not need to concern themselves with the face to face relationship with the client or any of the finance areas of the business.
Working in a design agency is good for having a stable income unlike a freelancer, there is always new things to learn as the agency will likely provide more software and training programs and that there are other designers around you. If you need an opinion on something, then there are a multitude of people to ask for advice and their opinion on your work.
It would seem that working in an agency would have more pros than cons but I found from a survey by Callie Malvik (www.rasmussen.edu link in bibliography) that it can be frustrating being physically removed from the client if the client is very difficult and unsure of what they really want.
With working in an agency you typically work in groups of five or six, each usually having a different job roles perhaps one or two having the same role, depending on the size of the project. Therefore, it is easily spotted when you are excelling in your role, this could then lead to employees moving around the job roles in the company for more experience in the firm, this then proves better for the employees as they have a wider knowledge of the design process, learning new creative paths to take to achieve a goal.
An in-house design team is a team of designers who work for that company only. They are usually constantly updating a product(s) within the company, which is usually already well established and has a large following. However, an in-house design team is a lot like an agency design team, there will be a structure on a smaller scale. With a design agency there are Account Directors who look at briefs from clients, keep relationship good, be concerned with the company’s finances and so on, but with an in-house design team, there will be Account Directors who look at making sure the budget isn’t exceeded and that the team of Designers know what the company is looking for.
Working in-house you have the opportunity to constantly make things better than they were before. Perhaps there was something you thought of at a later date, it is then possible to add this update into the newer version.
The disadvantage of being an in-house design is that the style of your company is the only style to be explored. There is little room for more creativity and can lead to things becoming, not necessarily boring, but quite monotonous.
Working as an in-house designer could spike a competitive nature into the employees in the sense that they want to climb the ladder within the business. This will then prove good for the company as they will have employees who are dedicated to their job and strive to achieve the best.
Being an Account Director there are a few desirable and essential skills needed. Such as a degree in design, business or sales experience and perhaps communication. A key area of this job role is to be able to communicate ideas between the client and the designer but in order to do so the Account Director will need a form of background in design to help with the communication process. This job role requires you to be well organized, have great communication skills, work well to a schedule and within an agreed budget.
The role of Creative Director requires someone to be good at leading a team of designers, having a good eye for design in current trends and past trends. The Creative Director will also have to make final decisions that can be tough and could then make a domino effect of the success of the business either bad or good. There isn’t set qualifications that are needed to be a Creative Director but a large majority will have a degree in some area of design. However, it is required that you will need experience at a senior level and the ability to inspire others to be most successful at this role.
To be a designer you will need to be able to choose appropriate methods to creating something according to a client brief. A designer will also need to very creative and have a good eye for design and the current market, producing rough sketches and visuals to show to the client throughout the creative process, whilst continuing to stick to budgets and deadlines. Employers will expect a designer to have a foundation degree, HND or a degree in an art and design based subject.
With being a part of the design industry there are things that need constant attention, and one of them is Copyright. Designers, Creative Directors and Account Directors should all be equipped on what can and cannot be used in the design or how to go about legally using something. The Designers should be fully trained and equipped to use all machines that they need in order to keep themselves and others around them safe. The training and safety wear that is needed for these should be supplied by the creative director and the overall company boss to ensure the safety of their employees and to keep their business legal. A freelancer should also be aware of these regulations on health and safety for their own safety when using machines.
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Brown, N. (2014) 5 advantages and challenges of in-house designers. Available at: http://www.howdesign.com/in-house-designer-blog/making-jump-agency-house/ (Accessed: 12 April 2016).
Christian, S. (2013) Account manager. Available at: https://ccskills.org.uk/careers/advice/article/account-manager (Accessed: 13 April 2016).
Franklin, H. (2013) The ultimate guide to creative design agency roles. Available at: http://www.firedog.co.uk/thinking-space/news-opinions/creativity/the-ultimate-guide-to-creative-design-agency-roles/ (Accessed: 12 April 2016).
Hamm, S. (2013) Working as an in-house designer: What does it mean?. Available at: http://www.studentguidewebdesign.com/working-as-an-in-house-designer-what-does-it-mean/ (Accessed: 12 April 2016).
Mahoney, L. (2015) ‘Pros and cons of working agency vs client-side’, Digital Gurus, 29 April. Available at: http://www.digitalgurus.co.uk/blog/pros-and-cons-working-agency-vs-client-side (Accessed: 12 April 2016).
Malvik, C. (2014) Where do graphic designers work? In-house vs. Agency vs. Freelance. Available at: http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/design/blog/where-do-graphic-designers-work/ (Accessed: 12 April 2016).
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