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What do designers do?

Designers share insights into their jobs...

DTG quite frequently receives email and inquiries from readers or students asking what it's like to be a designer, or to be involved in the creative field. Rather than answering the same question over and over, we decided to go out there and let some others share their experiences.
      We hope you enjoy these thoughtful comments as much as we did. BRAVO! Each of these will win a great prize from the Design Center -- and we invite you to share your experiences too!

Dealing with fellow free-lancers
Here's what Thomas says when asked about challenges in the graphic arts field :
1) Trying to "predict" stability in a free-lance world
2) Dealing with clients who want comp' work for free
3) Dealing with fellow free-lancers who will do comp work for free
4) Being paid commensurate with over 30 years of experience
Most difficult project?
      Again, an Internet client who I never met -- who, missinforms you of the work criteria and you find out that you are not just doing a book layout, but restyling his every paragraph and chapter. And then -- doesn't even pay you something, when you back out after 20 hours of head banging no-where-ville
Do you like your job? Would you change anything to make it better?
      Hey, I've tried selling insurance and it's even more frustrating. Besides, when you've done something (and done it good!) for over 35 years, you get pretty good at it. What I would change ... NO artist (especially beginning designers) would EVER do there work for free, for spec or for comp (that's "complimentary" not comprehensively). The world would be a much better place if client realized that we are not all prostituting ourselves and they are in control
Who controls the creative? You or the boss?
      Try to dig deep in the beginning with a good criteria analysis and wish list to arrive at what the client is looking for, to avoid wasted effort and tangential creative streams
When you have complete control, what do you do?
      Custom Illustrator iconic letterforms (see my Web site) based on years of hand-lettering - mixed with static accessory graphics
Average projects per week: 4 - 6
Average layouts per job: Maybe two or at the most three ideas and/or directions. But -- and the curse of internet job bidding -- many redos and edits.
Overtime required: My "home" is my office -- so there are no set hours, and that can be dangerous. Clients know that you can be "available" anytime, and just might work and deliver at any hour
Most used software: QuarkXpress, Adobe Illustrator Adobe PhotoShop
Thomas is a design professional from United States (?)

Here's what Chris says when asked about challenges in the graphic arts field :
Trying to pay bills.
Do you like your job? Would you change anything to make it better?
I'm burned out bad. I've been doing this since 1986, been with this company since 1993...
I need a change.
I'm starting to actively dislike my boss and our customers;
I feel like management is taking advantage of me.
My wife and I are really hoping to stay far enough out of debt to keep the house; retirement is completely out of the question. I'd like to go into photography, writing or web design as a freelancer, but so far no one's actually PAID me for anything. So, I'm starting to loathe my job, I can't afford to stay, and I can't afford to leave. I'm seriously thinking about hiring on as a farm hand in the neighboring county - they get paid more.
Who controls the creative? You or the boss?
      I'll get two or three jobs a year that I can do the way I want, the rest are dictated by the customer.
When you have complete control, what do you do?
      Pretty ones.
Average projects per week: 100-125.
Average layouts per job: Two, maybe. We're more of a print shop than a design firm. Generally our customers either want something quick and cheap, or they bring in their own artwork. Either way it's hard on the ego.
Overtime required: No overtime to speak of, really. In fact it's often hard to get 40 hours in without the boss handing me a broom... I do work at home doing volunteer work for charities (web sites mostly) -- that takes a TON of time.
Most used software: Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, PhotoShop, Acrobat Pro, QuarkXPress, Heidelberg's proprietary Prinect software suite, MicroSloth Word.
Chris is a printing industry professional from Sioux City, IA USA

More to come! Stay tuned


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