Professional Designer. Yay or Nay?


shaunalynn

shaunalynn

Active Member
#41
I agree with that sentiment, Mark. I would consider myself a young professional because I'm still low in the experience years that the US seems to regard as what makes you better than someone else (all "entry level" positiions here require 1-3 years experience in the design field.... uh.... kind of hard to get that if no one will hire you because you don't have that experience). But I am specialized in my field and can do what I do much better than my peers, so I would consider myself a professional in my skillset because I am being sought out for my knowledge and ability in it.
 
Gianluca Teti

Gianluca Teti

Member
#42
Thank you for everybody's comments! It is interesting to see how experiences differ from person to person.
There is of course a certain percentage of luck in finding a job that you like. You can be out of school and being hired for a good position right the way. I think that the location also makes the difference. There are countries were the average skill's level is lower than in others. And within the same country there are areas with more designers (which raises the general quality) and others with less; in the second case, you may find a good job even if you are not great, just because there is not a better option around.
The story about the "creative director" was kind of cool. Correct me if I am wrong, but in an ad agency the creative director isn't the highest position of all the creative departments? Art directors are below creative directors because the first ones are head of single departments. So if that person that you know got a creative director position right after school well.. congratulations!
 
shaunalynn

shaunalynn

Active Member
#43
She was the only designer on the team. It wasn't a compliment for her to get it because she flaunted it and other people just laughed at her. In the states to get to a CD position you have to have years of work behind you and you have to be GOOD. This girl had student work that was mediochre at best. She just lucked out getting a job. But at her next job she was no longer a CD, she was back to the bottom of the totem pole.
 
Gianluca Teti

Gianluca Teti

Member
#44
shaunlynn said:
She was the only designer on the team. It wasn't a compliment for her to get it because she flaunted it and other people just laughed at her. In the states to get to a CD position you have to have years of work behind you and you have to be GOOD. This girl had student work that was mediochre at best. She just lucked out getting a job. But at her next job she was no longer a CD, she was back to the bottom of the totem pole.
I see, it makes sense. In New York - where the competition is tough - becoming a senior designer is already a challenge. From there, you can become art director more easily because you manage people in the field that you know well. But from art director to creative director it is a different story. It's not about graphic design anymore. It means well-rounded notions of marketing, deep understanding of advertising, and knowing in depth all the media technologies involved when creating a campaign. Sometimes the creative director is in fact the agency owner; they are people who had previous valuable experiences and decided to open their own business.
 
shaunalynn

shaunalynn

Active Member
#45
Right. I'm working to start my own LLC if I don't get an agent soon, because I'm going to have to pay taxes on the freelance work I am doing, but I could essentially call myself the creative director of my company. However, I'm the sole designer and I feel like a CD position is earned over time. I could call myself the senior designer, but I instead jokingly refer to myself as a professional doodler.
 
Gianluca Teti

Gianluca Teti

Member
#46
shaunlynn said:
Right. I'm working to start my own LLC if I don't get an agent soon, because I'm going to have to pay taxes on the freelance work I am doing, but I could essentially call myself the creative director of my company. However, I'm the sole designer and I feel like a CD position is earned over time. I could call myself the senior designer, but I instead jokingly refer to myself as a professional doodler.
Hehe you are right, if the business is yours you can call yourself as you want. But in order to have a manager title, you need employees to manage!
I have to say though, I met with a "freelance art director" - something I never thought about before - and I realized that the title was correct. She is contacted by agencies that need to outsource a project. Depending on the kind of project, she creates a team of designers and copy and together they develop a concept and a campaign. It could be a stimulating job.
 
JeffAtHuemor

JeffAtHuemor

Member
#47
Gianluca Teti said:
This is an interesting statement. Formally speaking, if you are doing a job on a regular basis, you can be considered a professional. But "professional" also means performing the job in a professional way (skills, experience, work ethic). In other words, you can be a professional without being professional... does it make sense?
The time required to become proficient in what you do is in my opinion relative to how you spend that time. If you begin working in an serious ad agency right after school, you are surrounded by experienced designers, and you are a fast learner, then in three years you might overtake bunch of freelancers with more years of activity, more talent, but not enough experience.
What do you guys think?
I'm inclined to agree with this statement. Time working doesn't necessarily mean 'better'. It depends on where you work, how you work, and how much you want to be better. It's easy to sit in a print shop for 10 years and do prepress but it doesn't necessarily make you a 'better' designer then someone who's work in an ad agency environment for a year in a more creative position even though both individuals might hold the same title as 'graphic designer'.
 
Gianluca Teti

Gianluca Teti

Member
#48
JeffAtHuemor said:
I'm inclined to agree with this statement. Time working doesn't necessarily mean 'better'. It depends on where you work, how you work, and how much you want to be better. It's easy to sit in a print shop for 10 years and do prepress but it doesn't necessarily make you a 'better' designer then someone who's work in an ad agency environment for a year in a more creative position even though both individuals might hold the same title as 'graphic designer'.
Exactly. And being a freelancer can be dangerous as well. The fact that you "art direct" yourself means that you are less likely to grow as a professional. The opinions, collaborations, and creative impulses that a team can give you make you a better designer. You might be a talented freelancer, but you end up doing the same things in the same style because you never have an external interaction. Ideally, we should get to freelancing after a concrete company experience.
 
Jamie Mitchell

Jamie Mitchell

Junior Member
#49
Great to see this discussion. I've been dabbling in freelance design for the last 3 years and I'm about to graduate with an Advertising degree. Whilst I wouldn't yet consider myself 'professional', my work is definitely on it's way, and I don't think my lack of experience should discourage potential employers.

Unfortunately as some of you have pointed out, the big agencies at least, don't see it this way. Our skills might need developing, but if we've got the head for the job they should be snapping us up and helping us learn as we go. Right?

Our lecturers are constantly reminding us how competitive the industry is, and telling us to take any internship opportunities we can get. Agencies should be approaching us and PAYING. Internships are slave labour, and seem to me to be just an ego-boost for the agency - "Look at all these desperate students fighting for a place at the table" ;)
 
Gianluca Teti

Gianluca Teti

Member
#50
Jamie Mitchell said:
Agencies should be approaching us and PAYING.
Good luck with that. The other day I was reading on LinkedIn that now many students pay the companies to get an internship from them. Can you believe the level of absurdity we reached? In order to find a job in a serious AD agency you need to be GOOD and lucky.
 
Jamie Mitchell

Jamie Mitchell

Junior Member
#51
That is insane.

I can almost understand the reasoning, but it's a sad state of affairs. It's almost as though ad agencies aren't hiring 'talents', but just people who can tick the boxes. I wouldn't suggest that I am such a promising talent, but there are many people in my position, some of whom I know, who will never get their chance to show the industry what they're made of.
 
shaunalynn

shaunalynn

Active Member
#52
Good luck. In the states the agencies are really hesitant to hire anyone right out of school because you lack the experience. Heck my first design job after my internship I had to politely argue my qualifications and ended up naming the awards I took in the 4 months prior as well as the experience I got at the agency I interned at. They hired me after that. But the marketing director was very hesitant bc I didn't even have a years experience yet.

Heck even the job I went to after was hesitant despite loving my work. Ultimately I left there because it was a strange male dominated environment and I wasn't given the projects promised but still. They did however hire their intern before the intern had even graduated. He and I shared the same position (I was 2 years out of school at that point).
 
Jamie Mitchell

Jamie Mitchell

Junior Member
#53
It's similar in the UK, although some smaller agencies are beginning to offer paid internships which is fantastic. I guess if the bigger agencies offered the same then applications would be even more competitive than they already are. No bad thing though, it'd certainly get me to step up my game. As is, I just don't feel like my work'd be valued however good it was.
It's a shame that you were treated so unfairly, which city was this in?
 
shaunalynn

shaunalynn

Active Member
#54
Unfortunately I'm not going to say. It is in the past and I've moved on from it. It's in the states though. It was just a strange vibe there and I'm doing WAY better freelancing. :)
 
Gianluca Teti

Gianluca Teti

Member
#55
I heard that the hiring process in the top American AD agencies (Madison Avenue & co.) is quite long. Since right now there is the tendence to outsource even projects for corporate clients, If you are talented and versatile they might assign you to a temporary team leaded by an in-house manager. If everything goes well they involve you in more projects. Once you earned professional trust, they will consider you when there is an opening in the agency. They might offer you an actual job then.
So it's all about being in the network and freelancing for more than one agency. Sooner or later one of them will offer you a position. Once again, "when" is about luck.
 
S

Sean Lee-Amies

Guest
#56
Gianluca Teti said:
Exactly. And being a freelancer can be dangerous as well. The fact that you "art direct" yourself means that you are less likely to grow as a professional. The opinions, collaborations, and creative impulses that a team can give you make you a better designer. You might be a talented freelancer, but you end up doing the same things in the same style because you never have an external interaction. Ideally, we should get to freelancing after a concrete company experience.
This is definitely something I have picked up on, as a freelancer myself. The collaborative process is, in my opinion, essential for personal development. It is in fact a problem which I desperately want to come up with a solution for. For the competition that we're running, we were at one point going to make it so that you would have to enter into it with someone else and work together with them on the entry. Obviously we changed our minds but it's something I want to look at doing in the near future. I just need to get enough people interested and come up with a decent activity to get it started!
As for working within a company, I don't know. I think my opinion of that side of the working world has been tarnished by my previous types of employment. It just never seems to be entirely about how well you do your job, there always seem to be other things to take into account, everyone seems to have ulterior motives and I just don't like working that way. I don't know if I would take a paid position in a company for graphic design. I think it'd have to be a fairly decent salary for me to even consider giving it a go. I quite like being responsible for my own work and not having to deal with the bs of business!
 
romet6

romet6

Member
#57
balders said:
maybe after 10+ years in an industry then you can call your self a professional.
Sometimes people, who have been in an industry for a year, have better skills than people who have been there for 10 years.

According to Dictionary.com a professional is someone who is:
"extremely competent in a job."
"a person who engages for his livelihood in some activity..."
 
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