Myth 1: All Graphic Designers are Rich
Design is an extremely competitive field, and therefore, companies don’t need to go broke to keep their design departments staffed. There is always someone out there willing to work for less, and unfortunately, that keeps our salary rate pretty low right out of school. If you’re talented, and you put in the time and the work, you will move up the pay scale. But, be realistic. You’re not going to be making doctor or lawyer money. Not unless you want to do the hard stuff. If you have the drive and talent to be a back-end programmer, then you might take home a pretty nice paycheck.
I don’t think that most of us are starving, but I know that many of us work a 9 to 5 and freelance on the side just to make ends meet.
Myth 2: It’s an Easy Job
When I tell people I’m a Graphic Designer, the usual response is, “Oh, that must be FUN!” as if Graphic Design isn’t a real job. I’ve had clients say, “I wish I could come to your office and play all day with you instead of working.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not easy, it’s not a game, and it’s not a joke. Designers work long hours, under extremely tight deadlines, for demanding clients. We are expected to do design work, customer service, accounting, and sales. We are the ultimate multi-taskers, working on several projects at once, and we are expected to constantly come up with fresh creative ideas.
Myth 3: The Studying Ends After College
If you don’t like books or if you don’t like constantly learning new things, graphic design may not be the field for you. When I look back at my college books, I laugh. We were using Photoshop 3, and Illustrator had just started to replace Correl Draw. It has been up to me, for the last 10 years, to constantly read books, study tutorials, and attend classes to make sure that my skills upgraded with the design programs. Not only did I have to keep up with the latest software, I had to keep up with the world
Myth 4: Designers Don’t Have to Deal with People
It seems that many designers have this lovely image of their future selves sitting in front of two gorgeous wide-screen Apple displays while rocking out to their favorite band — designing in peaceful bliss for 8 hours each day. There might be a few jobs like this available somewhere. But, for most of us, we will be dealing with clients — or a sales team — on a daily basis. Be ready for constant interruptions, jumping from project to project as the calls come in. Be ready for meetings, phone conferences, and a hundred daily emails.
Myth 5: Clients Realize that the Designer Knows Best, and will Give them Freedom to Design
Probably one of the hardest concepts for a student or a new designer to grasp is that after school is over, they are done designing for themselves. Sure, there is the rare (and treasured) client that will trust you to make all of the right decisions. But, most clients come in armed with myths 2 and 7 and assume that they can do your job just as well or better than you can. They will direct every detail and revise your designs into the ground.
Myth 6: Designers Can Easily start their own Company right out of School
So many students live with the belief that they will start their own multi-million dollar company the day after they graduate.
You do learn a lot in school. But, you don’t learn half of the things that you’ll need to know to run a company. Those are things that you learn on the job. You’re not going to learn how to deal with clients, how to handle contracts, estimates, and billing, or how to hire illustrators and printers at school. You’re not going have a network of reliable people right out of school. You’re not going to know how to run a meeting, how to set up a conference call, or how to keep track of hundreds of open jobs. It is important that you build a foundation for yourself with professional experience before you venture off on your own.
Myth 7: Anyone Can Do It
As designers, we get a lot of “Oh, my cousin is a designer,” or “My friend is a designer,” just to find out that these people know a little Photoshop, or create invitations with Word. The two examples I seem to run across the most is those who have played with Photoshop Elements, and those who have created their first website with FrontPage. People think that because they can remove red-eye or make a photo sepia-tone, they are on their way to a second career in Graphic Design. These are the people I am up against when a client says “I have a neighbor who will design my website for R1000.”
Myth 8: There are Plenty of Dream Jobs to Go Around
I’ve found that most student designers share the same dreams. They want to test video games, create album covers (only for their favorite bands), design t-shirts, or spend their days color-correcting images in Photoshop. Your dreams may be different, and that’s probably good. The problem is that some students are so set on these dream jobs, that they forget to make themselves marketable just in case they can’t land one of these rare positions. Try to be realistic. Expand your skill-set just in case. Don’t close your mind to other possibilities.
Xplore Studio gives credit to Creative Opera (by Manda)