How badly do you think graphic design is undervalued?


Esh

Member
I use a few '£79' programmes and do real profesh work. I do have the more 'industry standard' programs now but hardly use them, and I think that the software war partly creates some of the problems. Designers make such a fuss about having to use Illustrator et al for it to even be possible to be a designer.
Budget allowing, anyone whose anyone can buy Illustrator and co, buying into the idea that because so, they can and must be a designer. Too much emphasis is put on certain bits of kits (I see designers daily who act like the software makes their work, when in fact, its' the other way, or should be anyway), and not actual design ability. Maybe if more attention was focused on ability and final result, rather then the process/software used, people will stop thinking they are designers because they happen to own a copy of Photoshop.
I've seen some of the best bits of work done in Inkscape/GIMP and other cheaper software, and even I was suspicious at first, but it made me realise that software, regardless of what brand is just the tool.
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
As a design student I have to put up with snide remarks all the time.

But honestly, I don't care, because I'm doing something that I love, and for the first time in my life, this is the only path I've taken so far that perfect for me. I note the experiences and horror stories from professionals and try to learn from them, but I don't let them deter me.

Whilst it's sad to see 'startving' designers desperately begging for scraps from the crowdsourcing table, I can't help but feel that they aren't doing themselves or other designers any favours by using sites such as crowdSPRING to try and find 'work'.

In an ideal world these sorts of sites would be forced to close down by some kind of regulating body, but sadly they're going to continue to put a dent in the industry until the people using them come to their senses.
 
The Big Issue

The statement mentioned before about designers being under valued hit home. I'm just about to go into college and start my A - Level studies ( Graphic Design , Electronics , Philosophy & Ethics and Physics ) and , I always from an early early age wanted to be a designer , because I somehow understood the importance of colour and type but then I realized I'm equally talented at electronic design ... hence the question

" Which job gives you the most satisfaction and leaves you each day feeling happy knowing what you've designed and produced is helping to shape the world we live in through design ? " Answer : Graphic Design

I think most people under estimate the importance design plays in our lives for instance , adverts on our own television screens , packaging designs , even our beloved Kellog's brand had to be designed and now thats a multi billion pound world wide brand... all thanks to that initial team of and or designer(s). The reason why I think its under valued has been stated before
Anybody can just setup a mac book or desktop pc , open paint , copy somebody else's designs or style and be thrown into fame as the next " Gordon Brown " of the design world , and I think it only comes across when you see your designs in public how much knowledge designers have , i.e. they have to know extensively about , form , composition , type , layout , shape , colour effects , marketing techniques , imaging and those things don't come from just opening up " Illustrator " and drawing an awfully coloured WHACKY LOGO " LOOK AT ALL DEM PRWETTY COLOURS , HERP ! "

No other job really can you give you this up-most satsifaction ( however , they are very under-paid , I want to be a Design Engineer ( key word " Design " ) , they earn on average with a first degree £35k , however graphic designers might earn half that a year! The money just dosen't cut it for my aspirations in life and thats a shame because design I know I could crack similar to I bet 100% of the members here also.
 

Esh

Member
" Which job gives you the most satisfaction and leaves you each day feeling happy knowing what you've designed and produced is helping to shape the world we live in through design ? " Answer : Graphic Design
No other job really can you give you this up-most satsifaction ( however , they are very under-paid , I want to be a Design Engineer ( key word " Design " ) , they earn on average with a first degree £35k , however graphic designers might earn half that a year! The money just dosen't cut it for my aspirations in life and thats a shame because design I know I could crack similar to I bet 100% of the members here also.
Spot on. You see mid-weight designer/senior designers and even art directors earning earning £35k after years, sometimes decades of experience. Now £35k is not a bad salary at all in general terms, but as a profession/industry that is so competitive to get into, where you require a degree, plenty of experience just to get started, a list of skills ridiculously long just to get started, that salary is pitiful in comparison with every other industry.

I know cleaners who work for themselves who earn more than freelance designers. (I'm actually branding a cleaner now who plans to hire staff this year). And it's not because said designers are untalented, its because where people are happy to pay a cleaner £10-15 phr, more in most cases, for their time and a good job, designers are expected to knock out a logo for £30 quid, and the sad thing is that design is so competitive that designers are willing/happy to do it just to have the work.

I agree with you, in that as much as I enjoy design, and would love it to be a life-long career, realistically, the salaries won't live upto my life aspirations unless I move abroad or am happy to stay living without lifes luxeries (I'm a girl I like expensive things :icon_wink: lol). It's very rare to find creative jobs that offer payment over a certain amount and it's concerning...I want to be able to climb the salary ladder to a stage where I'm not just ticking over espesh as prices all around us are constantly going up.
 

dedwardp

Member
I agree with you, in that as much as I enjoy design, and would love it to be a life-long career, realistically, the salaries won't live upto my life aspirations unless I move abroad or am happy to stay living without lifes luxeries (I'm a girl I like expensive things :icon_wink: lol). It's very rare to find creative jobs that offer payment over a certain amount and it's concerning...I want to be able to climb the salary ladder to a stage where I'm not just ticking over espesh as prices all around us are constantly going up.
When I finished my first year at Sixth Form College I was debating whether to continue down the more academic line or switch to a vocational institute in order to take up graphic design seriously and gain qualifications.

At this point, I had already taught myself the software and bits of web design, I was already reading up more on the theoretical side of things and I was also working for a professional football club as their designer around my studies.

I'm currently at university studying a degree in Management, continuing the design alongside, so I carried on the academic route and I've always been equally as interested in business, so I'm still happy. I still read up on design theory, I'm still extremely interested in it all, I love designing and I love getting new work through and doing it.

If I could secure enough work to treat it as a full time job then I would love to and, having then finished the degree, hold fire on looking for work relevant to that and keep designing for a while instead to see how it goes, but I don't really see it happening.
 

Esh

Member
If truth be told...I've been studying and getting experience in other areas like marketing/social media, events management (event's is my next dream job after graphics) and other bits too. Sort of like a back up plan. I love design and will continue to persue it for as long as I can, but sadly, I'm know deep down that I'll most probably end up giving up in the long run. I'm setting up as a designer at the mo, and so far things aren't bad, but I'm erring on the side of caution and putting it down to luck, and don't know when/if that'll end! I guess maybe sensible thing for anyone who isn't 10,000,0000 % sure is to become multi-skilled in different areas as back-up. sigghhh.

In my job before my teams redundancy, I was an administrator....got changed to design & marketing administrator because of my design quals/skills/etc, and even though my job basically grew to evolve around me, the design aspect was never taken seriously, even though we blantantly saw an increase in interest in our products/services after my work was put out there.

I'd have other members of staff trying to create posters in Word and Publisher and sending them to printers, expecting a rush of interest, which they didn't get. So in this case, design definately added value to the organisation, but still wasn't taken seriously: "ohh, is that all?", "Oh I can do that in word", "I could have done that myself in Publisher" when they obviosly coudln't as Publisher can't edit images etc.
 
I'd have other members of staff trying to create posters in Word and Publisher and sending them to printers, expecting a rush of interest, which they didn't get. So in this case, design definately added value to the organisation, but still wasn't taken seriously: "ohh, is that all?", "Oh I can do that in word", "I could have done that myself in Publisher" when they obviosly coudln't as Publisher can't edit images etc.
In which case , You should just go to the high authoritarian figures within the company , and question their need to higher designers at all ? if they can produce marketing effective , sales boosting designs in word... Heck it'd save all of £70 for a copy of word! hahaha , It might end up in you getting fired but it'd be worth it to see their company fail if they don't realize the importance of skilled designers such as yourself Esh

Did they honestly think the " Frosties Tiger " was designed by some whaco jacko in a back office messing around on word " HURP , I MADE A TIGER FROM CLIPART! HAHA DERP , I CAN DRAW A WECTANGLE! " ... ( lol btw )
 
Might I also add after doing a quick bit of googling , it seems clear that " Graphic Designers " are losing promise in the face of adversity within the industry
I took your cleaner idea that you mentioned before Esh and compared it agasin't the number of designers

Google Trends: Designers , cleaners


I mean COME ON! Our work isn't THAT undervalued.

I'm begining to think I won't ever get any studio experience , Even if I am only 16 , I can certainly design a good bit of typography or branding and understand the relative importance that design has on social medias
 

dedwardp

Member
If truth be told...I've been studying and getting experience in other areas like marketing/social media, events management (event's is my next dream job after graphics) and other bits too. Sort of like a back up plan. I love design and will continue to persue it for as long as I can, but sadly, I'm know deep down that I'll most probably end up giving up in the long run. I'm setting up as a designer at the mo, and so far things aren't bad, but I'm erring on the side of caution and putting it down to luck, and don't know when/if that'll end! I guess maybe sensible thing for anyone who isn't 10,000,0000 % sure is to become multi-skilled in different areas as back-up. sigghhh.
Indeed and, in many ways, it's not always a bad thing if you enjoy them too - as I said, I also enjoy business so from that perspective the two things I'm working towards currently are things I would like to do.

The degree structure will enable me to perhaps focus more on the marketing and advertising side of things later on which is something I think I'll slant towards which I guess keeps an element of design within as well - bonus!
 

garlex

Member
Graphic Designers worth?

For the most part its not that Graphic Designers are not taken seriously per se! Let's look at it first from the Employers point of view, there is a commercial reality. No employer, particularly a small company can employ a GD if there is no prospect of that employer finishing up with a surplus over the salary paid. In my experience the biggest problem is the lack of knowledge of this commercial reality and therefore the understanding by many graduate GD's that its not just about producing quality results.

In many cases, they think that producing a wonderful design in itself is good enough without realising that there are timescales to be met. You can finish up with a very satisfied customer, which is great in itself but pointless if it actually cost more in the time used than the money coming back from the customer. Remember for a company they also have to buy all the latest software and hardware in the first place in order for the GD to operate successfully. This equipment has to be paid for and the cost is usually depreciated monthly over the life of these items. Therefore thats a cost to the employer on top of the GD's salary.

Where I do think the GD is undervalued is in the eyes of many customers. They think because they themselves can produce 'designs' using sometimes freeware or cheap software and supply that as 'artwork' for reproduction it's easy and can be used as it is. Unfortunately, due to their lack of understanding and knowledge of the realities, it is very difficult getting them to agree the necessary price for doing the work properly. Luckily there are many customers that understand and do indeed appreciate the skills and creative ability of GD's and are prepared to pay the price for the job.

But all in all, GD's have to get to the stage quicker where they present their final work and consequently make the whole process viable. They also have to learn the skills and art of a salesman to be successful.
 

Dave L

Well-Known Member
When I worked in-house, I was given to believe that employing me cost the company the equivalent of my salary x 2. Now that I work independently (in part for the same company), I'm able to make substantially more per hour as I'm paid at consultancy rates (although the additional benefits of employment have to be factored out, of course).

Graphic design isn't as important as commercial, legal, accounting or even cleaning services (to cite some already used comparisons). It has a role to play and it can reap benefits but, in truth, it's not as essential as some of us like to think. I understand from Design Council survey figures (I think) that companies who use design services have substantially better growth than those that don't but I think that the statistics are probably quite heavily skewed as a) it's a piece of research commissioned by the design sector, and b) companies that are doing better already are the ones that have funds available for a design budget.

In short, you can't compare it to essential or regulated services and companies for whom it's important value it more highly than those who - quite legitimately - don't.
 

Ryuren

New Member
First off I should say;
The best will succeed - just keep at it (and live within your means).

edit; ^ that's someone else's quote within this thread, not mine xD

but yeah I think that it depends on the manager/director, it depends on their attitude and personality towards the person.
one aspect of why workes feel undervalued is because employers KNOW there's a job shortage and that if that person left there will be 100 more wanting to take his place.
this IS the same in any profession, maybe not the high-risk ones such as firefighting but I saw someone mention accountantcy, I'm an accountant myself and it is a really hard profession to get far in, you need atleast 3 years experience before you can earn a decent salary and the amount of knowledge and ability needed is very high.
I can say the same for graphic design although that's more about your skills at desiging and how efficently you can do it. and true there are a lot of these designers that appear from nowhere and offer dirt cheap services, I do think there should be a qualification or certification needed for GD but I think it's too late now. :)
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
I do think there should be a qualification or certification needed for GD but I think it's too late now. :)
I was thinking the same thing last night, much like how Plumbers need to be Gas Safe registered to be able to legally work on boilers and such like.

However the problem lies in the fact that a poorly designed flyer is unlikely to result in someone's death if you don't kern the type properly (comic sans and outer glows however are another matter).

Also, many people are great at what they do and don't have any formal qualifications in design, it just comes naturally from observation and experience.

A lot of people put too much emphasis on a degree nowadays. I understand it shows that an individual is capable of working at degree level and is designed to get students up to a professional level, but practical experience at a semi professional level is surely a massive head-start?
 

StripeyPen

New Member
Having just posted in another thread asking for advice, I feel this is a HUGE part of why I feel like I'm stuck in a rut!

I search jobs daily up here, even though I am full time employed as a graphic designer, but some salarys are just ridiculous...e.g a graphic design position at an edinburgh newspaper/magazine company wanted 2 years experience in graphic design with the ability to design and build websites with java and php ability and wanted to pay the successful applicant £12k and also seen some jobs offering minimum wage.

So many jobs are so underpaid, its a domino effect though-if people accept this sort of pay, then the industry standard is just going to come down and down until its worth nothing. which is sad :(
 

Ryuren

New Member
Oh I absolutely agree with you Paul, myself I had some qualifications, not great ones but better than nothing and I considered them good enough but once I actually got my first job I learnt a vast amount from wroking, actual experience is just of paramount importance.:icon_smile:

Stripey, I know exactly what you're saying, trust me it's not just that situation in graphic design but yes because the industry has no real regulations such as plumbers as you gave an example of, that means anyone who wants to do it or finds that they have a talent for it, it doesn't require much to start getting into it.
it's the successful designers that have done well, especially in the state it is in.
and I agree that it does de-value the profession, which is a shame indeed.
 

bigdave

Moderator
Staff member
The thing that gets me is the quality of the design work that some people will accept! I've seen 'cowboy designers' working exclusively in Photoshop and others who believe that its acceptable to just 'borrow' images from google... These are usually the same ones who will charge £5p/h and in my opinion are the ones doing the damage to the industry. I guess you get what you pay for though.
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
The thing that gets me is the quality of the design work that some people will accept! I've seen 'cowboy designers' working exclusively in Photoshop and others who believe that its acceptable to just 'borrow' images from google... These are usually the same ones who will charge £5p/h and in my opinion are the ones doing the damage to the industry. I guess you get what you pay for though.
This comes down to the client not understanding the value of good design. In terms of logo design, most people assume it's just coming up with a quick sketch of something that's related to their company and that's that. They don't understand that a designer isn't just creating a logo, they're creating a unique, individual identity. A professional will always strive to create something fresh and original, particularly when putting their name to it.

A lot of small businesses and self-employed don't even have a logo, and a small investment in some branding really adds professionalism and a sense of trust to an individual or company.
 

dedwardp

Member
I was thinking the same thing last night, much like how Plumbers need to be Gas Safe registered to be able to legally work on boilers and such like.

However the problem lies in the fact that a poorly designed flyer is unlikely to result in someone's death if you don't kern the type properly (comic sans and outer glows however are another matter).

Also, many people are great at what they do and don't have any formal qualifications in design, it just comes naturally from observation and experience.

A lot of people put too much emphasis on a degree nowadays. I understand it shows that an individual is capable of working at degree level and is designed to get students up to a professional level, but practical experience at a semi professional level is surely a massive head-start?
I think this too, particularly with something more practical like designing.

Don't get me wrong, I think that to be taught design properly and to therefore cover everything you can cover whilst working towards a qualification and so on is still valuable and you would gain a lot out of it.

But in my eyes, I've always felt that for something like this it would be important to be able to take a portfolio of work to an interview and say 'I can do this, this and that', as opposed to saying 'well I have a diploma in design'?

That's one of the reasons I've pursued something else in formal education and continued to learn as much design as I can around that. I teach myself theoretical sides of it, I practice and build a portfolio to show what I can do and I will still have A Levels and a degree in something else to widen my options.
 

Ryuren

New Member
A lot of small businesses and self-employed don't even have a logo, and a small investment in some branding really adds professionalism and a sense of trust to an individual or company.
I totally agree Paul, we come across small business all the time that have a company name and a ver good local standing with clients yet they didn't realise that once they had got a professionally designed Logo that customer base will only grow, so they were indeed thankful to us.
~We offer free logo designs with our websites, although 90% of the time the customer has an idea in mind for us to work around :)
 

linziloop

Member
I see how graphic design is valued at both ends of the scale to be honest. On one hand i do a lot of freelance work for small businesses (a lot of crafters) who literally have no more than 20 quid to spend on a quick shop banner and don't realise that they're getting a fantastic deal, so will always go with the cheapest quote no matter how crap a banner they end up with.

On the other hand i see the company i work for spending thousands on a flyer from an agency when the inhouse team are too busy to do it. I'm not exaggerting - three thousand pound for just the design of a one sided A5 flyer i once saw! SHOCKING! I was like - jesus, give it to me and ill do it in my spare time for half the price! Idiots!
 
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