What do you want from me?

For designers it can feel as though marketing teams or business committees are a well intentioned pair of solid concrete boots. We as designers have all conceded our share of defeats at the hands of lower/middle/upper management as they try to tell us how to do our job. They would argue though, that they are just doing their job. For a real solution to this conflict, and to create more progressive, positive outcomes for design, business and society, we need to learn each others language and especially business needs to learn exactly what to expect from a graphic designer.

We aren’t supposed to be our clients, just as we expect them not to act as designers. Meaning we need a more mutual understanding of roles. It must be a partnership in which both parties are aware of their own and each others basic roles but I feel that it is the designer’s role that is more often sublimated.

The design industry as a whole has an identity crisis. We are strategy consultancies, advertisers, artists, activists, innovation hikers etc etc… amongst which ‘graphic designer’ could sound a bit dry. Whilst the role(s) of a graphic designer may seem broad, we need a coherent description of services that we share and that business can understand. Even designers who design exclusively for online should describe themselves as graphic designers to maintain this sense of consistency for the sake of the industry.

These transformations would take place slowly and require organisation and an a consensus within the industry. As well as improving the quality of the work, I think this would have other positive effects such as enabling designers to quote/charge with some consistency, find clients more easily, and once a job has been secured allow for it to run more smoothly. Articulation is key and we can start with the questions…

What should business expect and respect of graphic designers?

I propose something along the lines of:

  • Dedication to, and expertise in the field of aesthetics
  • Whilst being a service industry, we have our individual ideologies, ethics, and sense of purpose towards the improvement of society beyond answering a brief.

That is maybe a left of centre place to start, but maybe one day I’ll go into why I think these are the really important concepts that hold back our industry from job to job.

What should designers expect and respect of business (clients)?

I’d say this ball should be thrown in to the court of a ‘business-person’, but I’d say designers should expect a set of definable goals or motivations and for their responses to be challenged and held accountable.

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