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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!

Design is not pretty pictures...
Here's what Linda says when asked about challenges in the graphic arts field :
      We find students who think graphic design is creating "pretty pictures." It is rare to find that student on the community college level who is totally committed and totally obsessed with learning graphic design. But when we find those students, it is so exciting and rewarding to me to be a part of their learning and success.
      The workload of the instructors (50 - 60 hours every week) keeps us tired and maybe not as energetic as we would normally be if we had a "regular" workload.
Most difficult project?
      Learning how to network my new lab, learning OS Tiger and learning all the new software in 10 weeks on my own with no formal training. Our lab was 6 - 8 years old and our software was minimum 5 years old when we upgraded last year.
Do you like your job? Would you change anything to make it better?
      I love my job! The joy of seeing my students "get it" cannot be matched. Also I love the challenge of continually learning and keeping up with new technology! As I learn new things, I cannot help but pass on the knowledge and excitement to my students.
      I only wish the school would allow us to hire more adjuncts and give me and my assistant a reasonable workload.
Who controls the creative? You or the boss?
      some of both. When the administration want me to do some design for them, I do what they ask. Otherwise I create what I want as samples for the students.
When you have complete control, what do you do?
      PhotoShop composites, altered photography
Average projects per week: One or two projects of my own. Of course I also create sample projects to show the students when I give them an assignment.
Average layouts per job: 3 or 4
Overtime required: I put in 50 - 60 hours every single week, and sometimes 70 hours. Not only am I an instructor, I am the Program Chair for the Graphic Design Program, the Mac lab tech, a professional development instructor, a con-ed instructor, and I create the Literary Arts Magazine for print. I also mentor new employees and train any adjuncts we hire. In the summers I teach graphics camps. I average 40 hours a week at school and the rest I do at home evenings and on the weekends.
Most used software: Adobe CS2 (PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat), Studio 8 (Dreamweaver, Flash), QuarkXPress 6.5, Premiere and iMovie.
Linda is a trainer in education from Monroe, NC (?)

there are times i'd rather go back to making boxes.
Here's what Beth says when asked about challenges in the graphic arts field :
      Color matching: looks good on the screen, looks like utter poop when printed on the newsprint
Most difficult project?
      hard to say, there are no tough jobs, just tough customers
Do you like your job? Would you change anything to make it better?
      i like my job at the paper most days, but there are times i'd rather go back to making boxes. I wish that our sales team would use what they learned at all those seminars and loosen up a little bit. They are so overly cautious sometimes it's a wonder anyone looks at the customer's ads.
Who controls the creative? You or the boss?
      occasionally i get to push the boss toward something new, but it's rare
When you have complete control, what do you do?
      they would be clean & uncluttered using good big art. if i could i'd rather sit around all day and draw silly pictures
Average projects per week: several, depends on holidays and advertisers moods. anywhere from 10 - 30
Average layouts per job: 3
Overtime required: overtime. at least 6 hours a week
Most used software: creator ad pro, photoshop cs2
Beth is a design professional from Martin, TN USA (?)

Here's what D.I. says when asked about challenges in the graphic arts field :
      Bureaucracy mostly. That and a strong aversion to promote or market the organization I work with to garner a larger media profile.
Most difficult project?
      I think the toughest project I've worked on so far was producing a 10x40 foot exhibit display for the BDS. The photgraphic oriented panels needed to be designed so that they could be swapped out and replaced without having to reprint the entire thing. I think we went through 60 iterations of the design before we arrived at one everyone could live with.
Do you like your job? Would you change anything to make it better?
      I LOVE my job. I get to do/learn something new almost every day and there is nothing that could change to make it a better environment to work in.
Who controls the creative? You or the boss?
      It's never about what I or my boss wants, but what our clients want. If I can convince them that my ideas are the ones to pursue, so much the better. Of course my favorite clients are the ones who come with a solid idea of what they want to see.
When you have complete control, what do you do?
      I'd definitely be bringing a less conservative approach to the designs that we produce.
Average projects per week: Between 5 to 10, some long term, some short term.
Average layouts per job: That really depends on what I'm being asked to produce. If it's for print, I typically put together around 5 finished layouts that the client sees and trash 15-20 thumbnails.
Overtime required: Overtime, but it's really only during the "peak" season which runs from mid-April to around the end of August. I ususally take the time in "comp" and go surfing for a couple of weeks.
Most used software: The Adobe Creative Suite. My shop is getting more and more work in the web, audio, and video arena and we're in the process of upgrading to the CS3 Master Collection.
D.I. is a design professional from Washington, DC (?)

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