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Ageism in graphics

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by YellowPeril, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. YellowPeril

    YellowPeril Member

    Although people daren't admit it (because it's illegal) and use other excuses, I believe that ageism is rife in the graphics profession and wonder if anyone else has experience of this.

    Despite having over thirty years of experience in graphics - much at high levels, I cannot even get an interview. I'm more than competent at most of the required programmes and those that I know I'm a bit weak at, I'm brushing up on.

    I live in between two excellent commuting stations and I make it clear, that if that's not good enough, I'll live in town for the week.

    Not that it should make any difference, I'm 59, but I still have a passion for the job and am, I think, a better designer than I've ever been.

    I've started a blog on this as well, so if you'd like to take part on that too, it can be found on my temporary site.

  2. linziloop

    linziloop Member

    Hi there - not wanting to offend in any way, but looking at the design of the website you have linked to, your design style seems very much so out of date, and of a poor standard, and I wonder if that's the problem, not your age.
  3. YellowPeril

    YellowPeril Member

    Is it the standard of the site or the work that it contains that you think is poor?

    I'm not offended and am prepared to take constructive criticism.

    I must point out that the site is temporary and is only really a testing page, while I learn the nuts and bolts.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  4. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    I've just had a look at the portfolio on your site and would disagree that the quality is poor. It is a little out of date in terms of it's presentation (styles of photography etc.) but I think this could be addressed if you still have any of the original work to re-photograph/present.
    The disadvantage of having a lot of work to choose from over the years is that naturally a project created 20+ years ago WILL look out of date compared to something created last week...styles/attitudes/skills change.

    I have seen some shocking work on here on a daily basis from so-called 'designers' who only have a year's worth of work to present and so there is no 'style gap' between their projects and everything sits together more comfortably.

    Having been designing for 19+ years myself I am now noticing how my design style and the way I presented my work back then has changed. But I do try whenever I can (in between projects) to polish the strongest of these older projects and bring the presentation up to date.

    I'd recommend really looking at updating the photography (simpler backgrounds, NO flowers(!)) and reducing the amount of work you have so that you can create a simpler, cleaner look.
    A stationery set and logo can be just a nice Illustrator visual with small drop shadow onto a white ground. It doesn't have to be shot on slate/wooden floor/floating etc.

    I know your homepage is temporary and the photo-montage feels a little 'signage company'/'look at all of my work' but it's a bit messy. Have a look at other design folio sites and see what kind of style takes your eye. There's bound to be a Wordpress theme which suits you that would be easier to set up. (Won't go into what Wordpress is etc. but there's a lot of info on this forum anyway if you search.)

    We are unfortunately all getting on, but talent IS talent and as much as knowing how to use the latest software is one thing, but doing something good with it (or with a pencil and layout pad) is absolutely another.

    Hope that is helpful :)
  5. YellowPeril

    YellowPeril Member

    Thanks for your comments Paul and useful advice. It is as you know, very difficult appraising your own work and more difficult these days, to get the budgets that I was used to.

    My other problems include the fact that the photography that I have, is the only reference to some of my work, as a lot what spoiled in storage. Also that my wife has suffered a serious illness which required me to work from home for nearly three years and during that time I worked on a massive catalogue project and little else. This means that I've not got a lot of recent work to show.

    Fortunately my wife has made a full recovery - hence my keeness to get back into the loop and away from my hermit like existence. who I'm signed up with, supply 'ready made' sites which I shall probably use in the end, however I wanted to discover a little bit about the nuts and bolts end first. Also I didn't want to waste time on building the site only to get advice and comments such as I'm receiving now.

    A London based headhunter advised me to include success stories, however old, to illustrate that I've been able to look beyond the aesthetics and provide tactical solutions.

    Because my technical knowledge is poor, I rely on advice from people such as yourself and I was told to keep it simple and avoid the use of Flash etc. to enable the site to be seen on a variety of browsers and iPads etc. Also I wanted it to load quite quickly, which the current one does. I'm not a great lover of whistles and bells and to me, if a site is difficult to navigate, it's missed the point.

    So, anybody is welcome to comment, but bear in mind my technical knowledge is poor but improving daily.

    Thanks all

    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  6. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    Terry, I wouldn't wait for more comments on this thread before you decide what to do. Most of the 'helpful' regulars on here will probably agree with freshening up what you have.

    I'd now look at your strongest projects and streamline your folio and make it clear what you can do with case studies. I'm not suggesting removing older looking work, just because it looks old. (I could have re-designed the IBM logo back then and would certainly still be featuring it now!)

    I think the site itself should be really simple. I don't like fussiness either, so Google around for other design websites and see what you do like. I'm not sure if you have any budget or willingness to get a professional web company on board to help you, but there are a few reliable guys on here who I'm sure could help you set up a Wordpress site with a nice looking theme which would 'house' your work. This would probably only be £200-£300 (web guys correct me if wrong.) if you're uncomfortable doing it yourself.
    (Wordpress is a kind of 'online scrapbook' also know as a content management system, that you put your text and images into and the 'theme' then styles and places this info into pre-defined boxes/spaces.)

    Don't dwell on the age thing, get your site up. No-one knows the age of who's behind it and the site may generate enough work without you needing to go full time at a design company.

    Get stuck in offering advice and feedback on the younger designers' work and feel 'experienced' and able to offer advice. Don't feel like the newbie!

  7. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

  8. linziloop

    linziloop Member

    Apologies for not being so clear, it was the website itself I thought looked of poor quality, and the work, not so much poor quality, but dated. But obviously this happens to all work eventually so I'm thinking perhaps you could do some self-initiated projects/online briefs to freshen it up a bit and bring your portfolio up to date.

    Regarding the website - just as an example of the kind of thing I mean, the white text on a yellow background, it's barely legible. I remember doing a media course as an elective in uni, where most of the students taking it were either I.T students or design students. One of the I.T students made a design with white text on a yellow background - it was slated and ripped to shreds, and forever became a bit of a joke - the "whatever you do, don't put white text n a yellow background when the designers are about, they'll kill you!". It's a really basic thing that as a designer you should know not to do. The colours are shocking choices, and aren't doing anything to suggest "professional graphic designer"

    The links down the side there are all different sizes, and you have used a combination of both uppercase and lower case letters.

    One of the first things I would expect to see when visiting a designers site is their portfolio, and it took me a while to figure out where yours was. Once in there I can see you have worked with some great clients and have some great work to show, I really think your website needs a lot more work to show what a good designer you are, something more sophisticated and simple, and far less garishly coloured :icon_wink:
  9. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    For a simple, clean portfolio layout, you could consider Welcome :: Indexhibit

    It requires PHP and a MySQL database though, so if I was paying extra for those, I'd just use wordpress and have a portfolio/blog theme installed.
  10. YellowPeril

    YellowPeril Member

    My original website was in muted colours that I quite liked, but after asking opinions, the general consensus was that virtually everyone thought the colours were dreary and hated them.

    I think that perhaps I have overdone the yellow content and think it works better on the downloadable items that have more blacks and greys to help tone down the whole effect.

    As to the white type, although it was on the original background the I uploaded, it doesn't appear on my screen, so I (stupidly) assumed that it wouldn't on others, and as it was only a throwaway line, on a temporary site I wasn't too bothered.

    All these comments are constructive and are being taken on board and incidently at the moment I have absolutely no budget.
  11. linziloop

    linziloop Member

    I think then, that you need a third option on the colour palette. Have you ever seen the Adobe Kuler tool? It's great for getting inspiration for colour themes: kuler
  12. YellowPeril

    YellowPeril Member

    Had a look on Kuler, very interesting thanks - new to me.

    What was interesting was the last two colours on the beetle scheme were the colours off my old site, which In used with a dark blue.
  13. john watters

    john watters Member



    I am 60 and still work as much as I can, I teach, mentor and have my own consultancy.

    Today, although some will disagree, the technology of producing finished creative work,
    is a natural development. Whatever you use to make a visual communication, from a pen
    to a hologram, the basis of all creative work is the idea. Creativity starts in the head, not with a mouse or keyboard. Those who depend on the computer will let themselves be forced into shortcuts if they allow.

    What is the difference between a 'creative' and a technician? A 'creative' or a stylist?

    Age is something we all experience, a 15 year old is older than a six year old, and experiences
    follow suit. Keep it fresh, don't try to emulate current as original as you can be.

    Think about sharing your experience. I do and reap the rewards. I work with students and we have for 3 consecutive years taken best in show at D&AD NewBlood... the team obviously think I have a worth,
    and by spreading and encouraging the excitement and love of design with young creatives, it will
    show them that one never fades away...unless you want to.

    Of your website, my view is keep it simple, don't design it as a brochure, let each piece of work
    stand alone. on white and let the power of your work do the job, not wrap it up in coloured wool.

    Remember Carnaby street, the Coronation, Bisto and 5 Boys chocolate.

    Don't try to please everyone else...please yourself and be respected for being a 'creative' who
    has proved his worth and still is.

    Be positive. Enjoy. Look at what is being done in Scandanavia, Slovenia and Russia. Inspirational.

  14. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    I've been in design and print for 30 years and generally, from a printers point of view, the more experienced the designer the better presented the artwork or file.

    As John says be proud to be a 'creative' - go back to early days - keep a sketchbook for ideas, look at what's being done. Age should not be a barrier. I suspect though that people are slightly afraid of taking on 'oldtimers' - they don't want to be 'shown-up' (as if we would!) or think that mature people won't want to work for the lower wages they can pay younger designers!

    Working with young people students is rewarding. You will teach them something, they will teach you something. Perhaps a local 6th form or college will be interested. Worth a try.

    Be courageous!!

  15. YellowPeril

    YellowPeril Member

    I first started as a part time lecturer at Barnfield College in Luton, teaching design appreciation to technical illustrators and then when I moved to Malvern, I taught part time at Gloucester, Worcester and Redditch Colleges and was on a local sixth form advisory panel and found it all very rewarding.

    When I moved back to Norfolk, I had desk space in a studio full of youngsters and took on the mentoring responsibilities and the work experience students as well, and again really enjoyed it.

    I also devised and presented a tutorial at an international design conference at the UEA called 'The possible pitfalls of DIY DTP' trying to teach some basic rules of typography to non designers using DTP.

    Unfortunately I have had no luck trying to get back into teaching which is an area I'd like to revisit.

    Again thanks for the comments, I guess my self confidence has taken a bit of a bashing, but I'm not finished yet.:icon_wink:
  16. YellowPeril

    YellowPeril Member

    Just reading back over the last two comments which very much reflect my own philosophy,they have given me heart - I was beginning to think that I was left out here on my own!

    I still design intially on paper - there's something magical about the feel of a sharp soft pencil on a textured quality piece of paper. I also agree that by designing on a computer you are limited to the computer, designing with a pencil, you are only contrained by the limits of your brain...and of course you can carry on designing during a power cut ;)

    My erstwhile business partner used to think that one of my strengths was that, while he thought design was totally subjective, I always thought there were rights and wrongs.

    If I design a logo, I think through as many possible end applications before I present it and try not to paint myself into a corner and I never present a letterhead design without body copy on it - they have to work together - all this sounds obvious, but I still see portfolios were the basic premis hasn't been thought through.

    ...I've started to ramble...Nurse...nurse
  17. matobo

    matobo Member

    lol you don't need a nurse YellowPeril and there is nothing harder than boosting one's self esteem after a few knocks.

    I am 40 with 20 years of experience and I feel over the hill - it took me a while to get back on my feet after a bad redundancy almost a decade ago and I 100% honestly do not have the confidence to walk into an interview, even now. Luckily modern technology and a small client base that worships the ground I walk on, is enough for now - I have been lucky and using email and modern technology means I seldom have to step over any thresholds or slap on any lippy to impress.

    In fact my online portfolio is so dated and very old fashioned during my post redundancy time of learning how the web works that yours is impressive, and I seldom drop the link anywhere anymore. It needs a serious redesign and even though I am quite clued up on web design now, I wouldn't know where to start with what is considered good or bad, as I am my own worst critic. The 'constructive criticism' from others would probably send me over the edge.

    Keep trying and keep being inspirational, because reading this thread is an inspiration in itself.
  18. YellowPeril

    YellowPeril Member

    Thank you, that's given me a boost anyway, I can't remember if I have mentioned it, but I'm 59. If you'd like to pm me for a chat feel free.

    I've already have had to start a new business twice anyway, once when I had taken on a big exhibition job for a client I'd already done quite a bit of work for, only to find she was trading whilst insolvent. I owed print, photography, stand graphics, construction etc.

    Some people were very good, allowing me to work off my debts, others I paid personally costing 10k from my own pocket. Unfortunately I owed the bank, VAT and revenue a good deal more, so I had to sell my house.

    I set up again and had built a good business, however my main client moved it's headquarters to Europe and I lost an annual income of well over £30k in one fell swoop - so I had to start again.
  19. YellowPeril

    YellowPeril Member

  20. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    Hey - remember that in the USA they don't consider that going bust in business is bad! It happens - especially nowadays in this economic climate.

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