Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cazenovia College: Designer Interview


I was contacted last year by Patrick Ormsby, a visual communications student at Cazenovia College, to answer a few questions regarding what it's like to be a graphic designer in the working world.



The following questions and answers were the result of the inquiry:


What is your proudest moment as a designer?
As a designer who takes pride in their work, the most fulfilling thing you can do is to overcome a challenge and be truly pleased with what you've created. In turn, when you are happy with what you've made, your client will see the pride you have in your work, and take that as reassurance in your skills and ability. Learning a new technique, or building a better workflow to expedite your design process can also be incredibly rewarding, and a long-term benefits.

How do you value/measure your results and effectiveness?
Quantitatively, you can measure success in a project by being under budget, on time delivering the final product, and getting positive feedback from the client who requested it. Qualitatively, you can measure your effectiveness in a project by accomplishing any personal goals you set for yourself in regards to trying new styles, learning new design standards and techniques, or whether or not your work holds up over time and across mediums. You can also discern rank by achieving design awards, or placing high in search rankings.

When hiring a person, what are some defining characteristics you or the company look for when in the selection process?
Anyone looking to be considered a serious candidate (for any job) should present themselves as passionate about what they do, eager to learn and grow, be reliable and dependable, and be able to take constructive criticism. Pride in your work is not a bad thing, but you should not sacrifice the happiness of the client because of it.

What weaknesses in a person’s skill set make them unappealing in the business?
Design is about communication through visuals, and without clear, continual communication between yourself and the client, you can create large gaps that result in distrust from the client, an inaccurate final product, and unhappy clients. Good communication is key.

What are some common misconceptions about working in the design field?
When I tell people that I'm a "graphic designer" a majority of the time they immediately perk up about a friend of a friend who needs a website or logo, and expect special treatment because they know you. As a designer, you have the right to fire clients who are rude to you, you have the ability to say no to people who want something but are not willing to pay you, and you should never take anything other than a written contract before any work is done or retainer payment is made. Always be polite in handing off any bad news to clients who want something for nothing, as word of mouth is a powerful thing, and can cripple you if not handled correctly. The industry is highly competitive, fast-paced, constantly evolving with new interactive/mobile media, and you really need to keep up with the latest trends in order to stay on top/in the game.

What other advice would you have for me in my next steps as a student, and one day a worker, in the graphic design field?
If you're serious about becoming a designer, do your research as to what type of design you're really good at, what type you're adequate at, and what type you need to work on. Having more than one design skill refined is a good thing, and makes you more versatile, which in turn makes you more valuable to a company. Being a "Jack of all Trades" isn't a bad thing, but make sure you take the time to focus on making your skills more refined in order to have a leg-up in highly competitive interviews. This also gives you another area to fall back on if there isn't a job readily available for what you originally planned.

Don't forget to have fun either.

There are great online resources for designers to check out what others are doing, read up on new technology, and explore the professional world of design:

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