March 11, 2020

Chronicles of the Superhuman: Designers

The average designer should be seen as lifesavers, superhumans & saints as they do more for the client than most people realise. They do so much for the clients that make them more than your average everyday superhero.

- Miguel Berenguer

The struggles that only designers would know:

Creative Burnout

Everyone has had a burnout in their professional space - but exactly is a creative burnout? This applies mainly to the designers that work in agencies and deal with quite a few brands - more so than those that deal with only one brand. The process of being creative and coming up with not only visual ideas but also figuring out the processes and how the outcome of the design will be, now apply that same concept to multiple platforms such as digital, print, motion and in the activation space. A lot right? Although, this is only for one brand. Us as designers have to plan for and time-manage ourselves to do this creative process for every client daily which most times it does leave us at the point of creative burnout where we are blankly staring at our screens hoping for an idea to appear.

The biggest mistake an employer or the designer him/herself can do is to let your mind reach that point. An idea, design or concept cannot be forced - it needs to be inspired. What you can do to avoid this is to have a creative break - which is a little distraction to let the brain gain back all its creative juices and be able to function again. It's as simple as going for a walk, playing a game on your phone or scrolling through your social feed - it's something small for a few minutes to recharge and you should be back in the office space ready to carry on. Some employers don't let them take this creative break and would s%#t on their designer as they believe they are not working and just playing around. Most cases - this is just not true.

Looking out for new software

As technology evolves into a new era every few years. Designers play the role of adapting themselves and being in a constant state of learning. Designers have to keep up with trends, styles, techniques and software to make their lives easier or to create something a little more interesting. Software and plugins are updated so regularly that every month there is something new to learn.

Unfortunately, with the education system being slightly outdated - designers have learnt most of what I know now from YouTube and other online courses.

- Miguel berenguer

I'll admit, I am a university dropout but I had good reason. I was studying graphic design and working part-time and I realised that I was learning more about actual design while working than learning how to use paper mache to create a statue of our president. To me, the logic wasn't there to continue my studies through an institution. If you think about it, I have learned in 5 years what it would take 4 students 4+ years to complete. For a piece of paper to say that I "learned" something. The main problem I have with the education system of today - is that the students that graduate don't know the basic functions of the real world of design. That is a real problem for me.

- Miguel berenguer

"Experienced knowledge" vs. "Preferential ignorance"

M‍ost designers have worked with the frustratingly creative impaired at some point in our careers. Design is so complex that everything has a reason. The colours, font and placement of elements all have gone through a process of creative critical thinking. Sometimes, our clients see things differently.

"Can you make the logo bigger"
"Change the text to my favourite colour, I think it works best"
" Can we just put this (some copyright infringement thing) here?"

The hardest part of this job is, as designers, is advise our clients but have to produce what our clients want. A constant battle between keeping within the companies corporate identity and keeping the client happy. A simple conversation with the client can help motivate your cause for concern and explain your thinking. So speak up!

Lack of respect to the profession

Nobody likes to be taken for granted or have it implied that their job is easy. Often statements like that are made out of naiveté rather than malice, but it still stings and can be infuriating.

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So doesn't Photoshop do most of the work for you?
I'm sure I can do this myself, the design shouldn't cost this much!
Your job is basically making pretty pictures, must be nice.

Responding with a sarcasm is overwhelming at most of these infuriating comments isn't going to let people know that there is so much more involved. In the cases of boses and clients, remind yourself that they don't know what you do - only the result. It may be difficult to put aside those hurt feelings but ultimately you are there to do your job. Try and remain empathetic to try and make those listen to you and hopefully they will understand all your efforts and hard choices you have to make daily.

Missing deadlines

The idea of missing a deadline send the designer's world to be tumbling down and sent into instant panic mode. The most ideal situation is that you would try and avoid this but sometimes it can not be avoided. Designers would need to find a way to deal with this.

A designer would have to be realistic about their deadlines in terms of the workload that they have at the moment and how they can achieve it without disappointing their client. There are hard deadlines and soft deadlines in the designer's world. Hard deadlines are when projects need to be signed off and approved by and sent through to production before that specific deadline to make sure there aren't any setbacks. Soft deadlines are instances where the project isn't so serious and can be completed "sometime next week".

Being open and honest with your boss and clients could show a positive characteristic of the designer whereby an understanding is attained and no need to place yourself under immense pressure to meet the deadline.

Don't work hard, work smart!

Creative interpreter

Once again, you have this letter landing in your inbox saying “I want a new cool new design for my business.”

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Bosses and clients all have the same issue of not knowing what they want or know how to explain it. A designer's job is to make sure that when being briefed, that there is no room for further interpretation. After all, a designer's worst nightmare is to receive feedback such as, "I don't like it." What exactly don't you like? The font, the colours, the choice of imagery, the layout? Also, please don't say "Maybe give me a few more options". Like a few more options that will also not like? (*Eye begins to twitch*)

To all the bosses and clients out there, please do us a favour and provide more information as to what exactly you want. Design is also a partnership, paint a picture with your words of what you want and we as metaphorical painters will give you exactly what you want. 

As designers, it is important to make sure you gather all the information you need that you have a mental idea of what your boss or client wants. 

How to tell a client their current design sucks

Designers have had years of experience with designing modern and trendy designs and now have come across some horrific design that the client has done themselves.

You might need to use that design to develop other digital or print items that follow the corporate identity that your client has created. It may be tough but you can request that if the client is open to the idea for a redesign or some polishing of their current design. Show them a design you have in mind for them and if it isn't what they want then, unfortunately, there is not much you can do.

If you are a true professional you need to carefully select words and suggest improvements to clients without being too imposing or arrogant. Instead of taking the “I know it better” approach, try to make mild suggestions first like: “Did you know that if you fix your check out, your sales may rise up to 20%?”

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"Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones."
- Bruce Garrabrandt
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