As a designer who has been in the industry for over 16 years, recent times polarised by the challenge of going alone, has had me thinking / being concerned / about the death of print, and my move into this new digital design world.
Coming from a generation that has used Macs as our main design tool, I have strictly retained my use of a sketch book, start an idea and sketch it out, well before it makes an appearance in InDesign or Illustrator. And as my generation has matured and gained experience I have found recently the things that give me my passion, like my sketch book, the details, typography, paper stocks, print finishes, folds, all the things that can make a piece of print truly beautiful, in less and less demand. Even though I have considered myself primarily an identity / brand designer, I was educated at Goldsmiths University in a course called Total Design. A course that taught all the young creatives there that design was something that held no boundaries. Thus I have long considered myself to be primarily what is known as a Graphic Designer, but with the creative scope and imagination to consider environment, product and more recently web as elements of a total creative process. A process that I as a designer would consider when setting about a new creative branding brief. Whilst I would never claim to be an industrial designer, environmental designer or even lighting designer, if the need came I have always felt I could rise to any challenge that came my way, Total Design.
Now though as I sit in my home office, looking for clients to drive the passion I have for beautiful design that is effective, I also have one eye on the need for a secure income now I am a new father, and can’t help but notice the new titles of UX and UI Designer. Like with the other design disciplines mentioned above I have always treated the web design I have done the same as I would anything else I did, part of the package. Whilst regretfully I have never (as yet) managed to get my creative mind around coding, I feel I have enough knowledge of design and the web and the way people use it to consider myself, my studio to be more than capable of doing great web work without limiting my ability by categorising myself as a UX or UI specialist.
To summarise, I am not taking a cheap shot at UX and UI designers, more, I am not alone in feeling a slight uncertainty as to how as a traditional graphic designer I continue to adapt to being considered more and more as a digital designer. I do retain a hope though that print will live and continue to give me the option to treat myself, my clients to something truly beautiful, that feels great to hold, that isn’t an iPad.
And so the reason I wrote this, a great, thought-provoking article I came across titled ‘The Graphic Designer Suicide Note May Never Get Printed’ by Andy Jacobson:
“Yesterday I went to a showing of Page One: Inside the New York Times, a documentary directed by Andrew Rossi, who was given unprecedented access to the Times for fourteen months.
The film, which I very much enjoyed, is a social commentary about the current state of newspapers and their relationship with news aggregators and social media. In presenting the Times’ own economic woes, the film also questions just how much longer (and how much) people will be willing to pay to keep the paper alive.
A lot about this story can be said for all print media. And if that’s the case—is the title, “Graphic Designer”, as we know it, also dying? I think so.
A question for my graphic designer friends: How many print identities have you done this past year? How about CD packaging? Corporate brochures? Posters? Book covers? Magazine redesigns (or start-ups)? And if you are working on these types of projects are you making good money?
I’m not suggesting that our talents, as graphic designers, will no longer be needed in the future, but I am certain that we need to rethink what we call ourselves. Much like doctors we need to determine what our specialty is and then determine the best title to communicate that specialty.
I became a Graphic Designer because of my passion for telling stories, and my natural ability to figure out the best way to tell those stories visually.
I suspect that website designers, UI/UX designers, programmers, interactive designer, art directors, or even some illustrators don’t share the same passion. I’m not suggesting these people don’t care about the story, I just believe that their process is very different. And it’s that process that should help define who they are, i.e.; what they are called.
We can’t all share the same title. We can’t continue calling ourselves Graphic Designers. It’s not only unfair to the people that are hiring us, it’s professional suicide.” Text and image by Andy Jacobson.