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 in University or completely self-taught. Doctor Google, design books, and design courses (like those on Skillshare) are my main help.

Even though I’m not a professional designer (yet!), I know the foundations and the rest comes out of practicing a lot and learning on the field.

Regardless, trying to find my place in the design world has proven to be very hard. Consequently, getting a chance will be even harder.

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

I never go to an interview pretending that I’m more qualified than an experienced designer but, usually, what gets in the way is the fact that I don’t have a degree or a 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 an on and off discussion among people who have a Design degree and on the other hand, people who don’t, they studied on their own.

This is where my opinion gets divided. I get it when designers say that their job is undervalued. People 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 someone can come up with a temporary solution, doesn’t actually mean that they know what they’re doing. They can come up with a logo solution without making it properly. They just did it because it was necessary at the time (Portuguese are masters in this matter).
Regardless, in design, like in 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!


Two years later, my perspective on this subject is slightly different.

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