July 5, 2021

The Myth Of Being A Graphic Designer


Posted by Sharmarke Hujale


5 min read

Myths exist in every industry — it’s unavoidable. And the design industry does also suffers from them. It’s hard to eliminate myths, but we can reduce them through education. And it’s through education that we can come to a common understanding. 

“Design Is the Same as Art”

Design is the same as art, would someone argue. Sure there is an element of truth in that statement. And it’s also completely understandable since, in graphic design, you will play around with colors, forms, and shapes — layout and composition are even applied. 

The thing is, design and art are fundamentally different. If we want to understand the differences, we have to look at what function they play — their purpose. 

“The purpose of Design is to accomplish an objective task. The purpose of Art is to help the mind understand what is real”, said the renowned graphic designer Milton Glaser.

Design fundamentally is about solving a problem for an audience. You have the audience’s interest in mind. Design is being intentional with what is being made, and how it’s going to communicate. Design is not only about aesthetics as Steve Jobs said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”.

Art on the other hand is an extension of the artist. Art is a form of personal expression. An expression can come in the form of emotion that’s being conveyed. We appreciate art because of the unique experience that it provides. I don’t only see painting as the only form of art. Poetry is art. Singing is art. Writing is art. Art gives birth to beauty. 

Though design and art are two distinct practices, I believe they can work in relation to each other. Design applied with artistic sensibility is functionality with beauty. 

Let’s Dispel Some Other Myths

Now that we have an understanding of the differences between art and design, I will share some other myths I have encountered in my life as a designer (you have probably too, and if not, you’re in for a ride).

Expert in Sketching and Drawing

“If you can design, then you must be able to draw well.” It’s true, there are designers out there who can draw and sketch really well, but it’s not mandatory in order to become a great designer. I made the mistake of having that mindset of “If I can’t make great sketches, I’m not able to make great logos.”

I mean can you blame me? When you start out in graphic design, and you see “perfect” logo sketches on Instagram — you would as we all fall into sometimes — comparison. Which in the end can be destructive.

It’s better to see sketching as a means to get an idea out quickly before it dies. The more ideas you get out, the better clarity you will get. 

My awesome sketches

“Can You Make It Fast?”

There is no such thing as doing great work in a matter of hours or the next day — or something as vague as “as soon as possible”. Great work takes time. 

If there was a shortcut inside my brain to unlock my creativity at the moment I need it, I would have done it a long time ago. But the problem is, that it doesn’t exist. 

Creativity is not a quick fix or a shortcut, but a process that contains research, distilling, observing, and creating. 

So don’t stress about it. You should focus on setting the environment in which you can unlock your creativity. Yes, I’m well aware that there are deadlines that should be met, but that doesn’t mean that great design work should suffer. 

“Be Creative, You Will Figure It Out”

If the project and the scope are unclear and vague — designers don’t have a magic pill that can solve something that is opaque. 

Design concepts don’t come out of thin air. Sure, sometimes that can happen, but it doesn’t always work like that. Business goals and user needs need to be met at the beginning of a design project. 

Designers are not magicians, but problem solvers. To my surprise, my best design work is produced when the project has constraints and is not a free jungle where I can do whatever I want.

“Just Make It Look Pretty”

Oh, how I hate the sound of it. But for an outsider who’s always looking at the final product — whether it’s a billboard, menu card, or poster — they will never know what was the process behind the design. 

Designers are not just here to make pretty designs, otherwise, no problem would be solved.

Let’s take a logo for example — behind that “pretty face” lies strategic considerations. There’s an identity system that contains the colors, typefaces, imagery, iconography, etc. All with the intent of being consistent across places and media. 

The intention is key in design — so going headless and just focusing on pure aesthetics is not the role of a designer. 

Why did I write this? I wanted to share with other designers (who are at the beginning of their career) some of my encounters (myths) in my profession with non-designers, and also to show the clear distinction between design and art.

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