It’s been a while, but I couldn’t think of anywhere better to post such a rant.
People don’t care about what we do. Okay, that’s a gross generalization, but in the context of this rant it’s 100% true business. As a working designer (Ha! I can say that now) I’ve begun to see this more and more, and I find myself with fewer and fewer options on how to effectively (and tactfully) combat this predicament, which is as follows.
Tonight I was presenting some commission work I had done over break (this was outside of promosrv, for reference sakes) to my client. I’ve worked for said person for years, and tonight was showing a nearly finished project. When I walked into the room to show this off, my client immediately asked the others in the room “What does this need? What do you think?” which opened up an effing can of worms. (…okay. Small interjection first. This shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Half of being a graphic designer (or any designer, for that matter) is about taking criticism, picking out the good stuff, and using it to your advantage. However, this only is applicable when those giving criticisms are qualified to do so. )
People immediately were giving their opinions, saying “it NEEDS this.” “it SHOULD HAVE this.” and I felt both entirely enraged and defeated. Had these been art professors, other designers, trained seamstresses or sculptors– I would’ve been lapping up their comments like mad, but this wasn’t the case! This wasn’t only offensive, but it was illogical. Allow me to explain.
Here’s how the scenario goes. You are a client. You need a poster/chair/dress/interface/website designed. You know you can’t do these things yourself because you aren’t trained to do them, so you call a designer. This designer, who has GONE TO SCHOOL TO DO THESE THINGS, and is TRAINED IN THE SUBJECT AREA works on your project. The designer gives you back this project and says “this is really good stuff.” You then take this project and hand it off to other people and say “What do you think this needs? Do you think this is good?” Not only is this counter productive, but this is completely and totally illogical. Why would you hire someone who knows what they’re doing if only to hand it off to people who don’t? Let me re-phrase this in a different situation.
You have a mole on your back. You think the mole might be cancerous, but since you’re not a doctor you really have no idea. So you go to see your dermatologist, who has GONE TO SCHOOL TO DO THESE THINGS and is TRAINED IN THE SUBJECT AREA to check out your mole. He looks at your mole and says “Yup, that’s cancerous.” You then proceed to walk out of the exam room into the waiting room, lift up your shirt and ask the other patients waiting “Does this look cancerous to you? What do you think?” when none of them are qualified to make any sort of educated decision.
While the latter story is obviously ridiculous, why is the first any less so? It’s because people don’t value what we do. Anyone can purchase photoshop (which, mind you, might be another rant sometime. I think you should have to prove you’re an art student or a professional to get your hands on software because otherwise everyone on earth thinks they have artistic ability when in the darkest reality of the word, they don’t. I used photoshop as a 14 year old and let me be the first to say it wasn’t good stuff that came out of it.), anyone can make a flier with ‘word art’, so why should ‘artsy-folks’ opinion even matter? We are hired because we obviously know what we’re doing– so why would you ask someone who obviously doesn’t?
In my sincere pissed-offedness following this situation, I consulted MTD, who simply laughed at me and said “ah, you will be there many more times. I’ve been there many times. Sometimes, if you can, you just need to tell people to shove it, or you take your check and move on and the work they get is crap.” He told me the former department head used to say in such situations– “You wouldn’t hire a plumber to work on your heart.” and would leave it at that.
So the real question comes down to (I’m sorry my entries always end in quasi-rhetorical questions) how do you either tell people off for such behavior (or correct them politely?) or change their attitude on design as a whole? I’ve always abhorred (but kind of admired) other designers who simply tell these people to screw off– but then you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’ve always put being a good person higher than being a good designer, but at what point as a professional do you have to tell your clients they are not the designer so you can get on with producing good work?