Design in The Real World Tip#1: Show me how you handle the mundane and I’ll show you a valuable designer.

Posted by on Feb 8, 2016 in Art, Design

Somehow it never fails, whenever I’m invited to check out some online branding/logo design contest, I’m almost always left shaking my head. I’m pretty sure you have seen these design forums. They often have juicy titles that say something like “World’s Greatest”  and they tend to have long scrolling pages filled with cutting edge designs for ultra-funky sounding enterprises.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s that I have a problem with these types of forums. They can be fun and even inspirational, (particularly on those days when you are suffering from creative block), but in all honesty they really don’t help me determine the true value of a designer.

You may be wondering just where I’m going with this. Well here’s the deal, in my 25+ year career as a graphic designer, I could probably count on one hand the number of dream come true assignments that these forums present.

What designer wouldn’t love to be engaged to brand entities with cool picturesque names like Bullfrog Power, Blue Banana or Red Fox Pictures? You would have to try pretty hard to crap out on one of those assignments. It’s a different story when you are asked to do something magical with names like Alpha Plumbing, Johnson Capital or NLM Consulting. Unfortunately these type of uninspired design assignments tend to be the norm and not the exception in a designers career.

Now I’m not complaining. I’m just pointing out that this is the inescapable reality for most designers. The dirty little secret that the design schools don’t like to talk about.

In my experience, how a graphic artist handles the mundane determines their true worth as a designer. It separates the wheat from the chaff. As a creative director who has had to both higher and manage designers over the years, it’s often been the most important measuring stick that I use.

And let that be a tip for all you fresh faced art school graduates who are gleefully preparing your portfolios. Mixed in with your dream assignments, save some room for the mundane success stories as well. It’s a great chance to demonstrate your ability to problem solve, and you may be surprised at just how much more well-rounded your portfolio is.

Now getting back to those design forums I was talking about earlier. How about an online contest that showcases the outstanding work designers do with the more bland assignments for a change?