profession December 3, 2017

What’s a true designer?

Everything that I know about being a designer was either learned within the few design courses that I had in University or was completely self-taught with the help of Doctor Google, design books, and design courses (like those on Skillshare).

The truth is I’m not a professional designer (yet!) but I know the foundations and I am convinced that the rest comes out of practicing a lot and learning on the field.

Still, trying to find my place in the “design world” has been proven to be very hard and getting a chance even harder.

I have also considered becoming a freelancer, but the truth is that freelancing is not a walk in the park and I pretty much prefer to be part of a team where I can discuss ideas, learn as much as I can and talk about silly things.

I never go to an interview pretending that I am more qualified than an already experienced designer but in truth, most of the times, what gets in the way is the fact that I don’t have a degree in Design or a super fancy portfolio. This leads me to the following questions:

Is a degree really all that matters?

Shouldn’t we value things like willingness to learn, soft skills and personality?

This is a current discussion that’s been on and off among people who have studied Design in school and on the other hand, people who studied on their own.

This is where my opinion gets divided. I get it when designers say that their job is undervalued. People tend to think that anyone with a computer and a fast internet connection can “come up with a logo” without trouble. In Portuguese, we say that this is: “desenrascar”.

The fact that I can come up with a temporary solution to the problem, and “desenrascar a logo” doesn’t actually mean that I know for sure what I’m doing or that I have done it right. I just did it because it was necessary at that time (we are masters in this matter).
Regardless, in design, like many other professions, there is a bunch of people who really don’t have a clue or simply pretend to know something that they don’t.

On the other side of this feud, we have those who haven’t got a “proper education in design” (like me) but are seen as “pseudo designers”.

Even though my opinion stays somewhat between the two sides, I believe that you can be a designer without having a traditional education in Design. As long as you stay humble, study a lot and know your strengths and weaknesses, there’s only room for improvement and good opportunities.

In the end, please make sure you are not labeled as someone “who is the cousin of that friend who is good with a computer”. We have enough of those already!

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