Posted by Tate Linden
Are you a good designer or a great designer?
No… Wait. Don’t answer that until you get to the end.
There seems to be a common belief that any designer can become great if they just work hard enough on their technique. Most of our design schools are built on this very premise. And of course there’s Tippy the Turtle who remains infamous (long after most have forgotten what art program he represented) because many bought into it.
I don’t believe it.
I find that in most of the interviews I’ve had with design school grads and even journeyman art directors, their big moment seems to be when they show me their mad skillz when it comes to using Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Or maybe it’s their charcoal technique. They’re usually truly excellent at one of these, mind you, so they’re justified in bragging a bit.
But none that went this route got a job offer, because in our world that’s not what commercial design is about.
Of course a designer must ensure that their design is strong technically before it goes into production. That’s a given. But isn’t it more important that the design is strong conceptually before advancing beyond sketch stage? A designer who doesn’t understand how to read a creative brief and develop a concept that not only fits within it, but can expand or enhance the effectiveness of the entire campaign or brand identity? Well.. that’s a designer that doesn’t work here.
And a designer that can’t stand up for what matters (at least once) with a client, creative director, or professor? You’re probably not seen as a designer, you’re seen as a tool. Most likely a paintbrush, but if you have other definitions that fit, maybe try ’em on for size.
Pay attention to how your peers, bosses, and clients discuss your work… I’m betting that what’s true here at Stokefire may be true elsewhere:
Good designers are praised for their technique, great designers for their impact.
So, which are you? And how do you know?