The LLD 100A is one of the courses that I am taking this semester. I am currently pursuing an undergraduate course majoring in Graphic Design. Many have questioned me about why I chose this particular field but from a young age, I was captivated by art. I use to draw little pictures around out house and even paint my mother’s beautifully decorated walls, something that drove her mad. This interest persisted in me until college when I decided to major in Graphic Design.
Recently, the professor of this LLD 100A class recently gave us a discipline investigation assignment where we were to conduct research on a particular career field of interest. The research was to be conducted by interviewing a professional in this field. The discipline investigation assignment was a way of trying to bridge the gap between the theoretical aspects learnt in class and their practical applications in the real field. My personal conviction is that such as an assignment is very crucial as it enables us students to gain insight into our future career fields. Being a student graphic design, I was particularly looking ahead to the interview as I already knew one individual who had been my role model for a long time and who I wanted to interview.
Purpose and Gain from the interview
I believed that the interview would help to dispel any negative perceptions that I had about the field. In addition, I hoped to learn abut the demands of the field in a real world scenario. Graphic design has grown throughout the years to become a viable career field that continues to attract many art enthusiasts, myself being one of them. I hoped that that the interview would be able to gain a lot of useful information on the field as well as get career advice from a qualified professional. Through the interview, I hoped to learn from a professional and possibly prepare for the demands of the career even as complete my graphic design course.
Background and Career Path
The person that I choose for the interview was Mr. Arthur Alderman who is the chief designer at Levefre Graphic Solutions. Mr. Alderman was a friend of my , and when I was younger, my father used to tag me along when he went to visit his friend. I was always amazed whenever I entered his gigantic office whose walls were covered with exquisite graphic design pieces that he designed himself. The office still amazed me as I conducted the interview. Mr. Alderman stated , from a young age, he was also attracted to art. He loved painting and drawing. His parents recognized his immense passion and talent for art and so they encouraged him to pursue a career in the arts. By the time he was entering college, he already knew what he wanted to pursue in college, and that was graphic design. Mr. Alderman told me that he had started his graphic design company from scratch. . After finishing college, he was unable to acquire a permanent job and for a period of three years, he worked mainly as a freelance graphic designer. He used to do a variety of graphic design jobs for a variety of clients. Mr. Alderman believes that it was this street experience that has propelled him to his current position. He was able to save a few bucks from his freelancing, and this was what he used to start Levefre Graphic Solutions in a joint venture with a former classmate. The two were able to pool their funds and set up an office in a popular side of town. Although they had few clients in the beginning, the two did not give up and over time, their small company grew up to become a profitable organization. Then friend later left to start up his own firm and Mr. Alderman became the sole owner of Levefre Graphic Solutions. One interesting fact is that although Mr. Alderman is the owner of the company and one would expect his roles to be exclusively resigned to authoritative duties, he is involved in almost every single design job. Although he has employed several other graphic designers, Mr. Alderman performs almost similar roles to these designers.
As mentioned earlier, deep interest arts propelled Mr. Alderman to pursue a career graphic design. As he puts it, ‘art is his wife”. He has been this field for a total of eleven years and according to him, he continues to learn every single day. He gave an example of a recent Graphic Design Convention in Boston, Massachusetts that he had attended. This conference brought together graphic designers from all over the world to exchange ideas and experiences about the field of graphic design, In addition, Mr. Alderman’s office was full of brochures that he had acquired from various seminars and workshops that he regularly attended.
According to Mr. Alderman, several things surprised him once he finished college and entered the graphic design realm. For one, he found out that it is an extremely involving job that required maximum keenness and attention; In addition, graphic design requires a lot of creativity and innovation on the part of the designer (Justice, 74). Mr. Alderman found out that being a graphic designer is not smooth sailing and one has to work hard to become successful. Another element required in this field is absolute discipline. Although Mr. Alderman understood that there are some who enter into the field due to the motivation of money, he was of the opinion that this is not something that can drive on one forever and eventually, such people quit the graphic design job. He was keen to stress that one must have a passion for the discipline to be able to perform maximally and remain in the field.
Roles and Responsibilities
A graphic designer has a wide range of duties, roles and responsibilities. As mentioned earlier, Mr. Alderman work entails much more than just management duties. He personally oversees and actually works on client’s design projects. Mr. Alderman’s company has a website through which clients place their orders. However, some of them prefer to go the physical offices to make their orders. One of the duties of Mr. Alderman is to engage such clients in comprehensive discussions about their requirements. He directly deals with such clients and informs of them the various graphic design possibilities that are available for them to consider. In situations where fellow designers meet a challenge, they usually come to him for instance. In addition, he also goes through the orders placed by the clients via the online platform and responds to them. He assesses each of the client’s requirements and tries to come with concepts and proposals that can meet these requirements. In situations where extra customer insight is required, he makes appointments with the clients so that they can have a physical interaction and the client can communicate his needs more clearly and explicitly. After he has established a concept or idea about a design project, he then presents it to the client for approval before it can be actualized. If the client approves, he then goes ahead and starts the design project. Mr. Alderman is an expert on a variety of designs and this is where the wide scope of his roles and responsibilities is exemplified. For instance, he is involved in making graphic animation, video editing, and visual media presentations. In, he performs photography editing, creational of promotional visuals like advertisements, posters logos and signs. In addition, once he has finished the conceptualization and actualization stage of his design projects, he is responsible for coordinating other production activities with service agencies, printers, advertisers and other stakeholders to review and evaluate the final product’s quality before it can be forwarded to the client.
According to Mr. Alderman, the professionals in this field are supposed to exhibit the highest level of professionalism (Taffe and Barnes, 45). Most of the clients come to graphic designers in a clueless mode and expect the graphic design to demystify the whole design idea and come forth with concepts that will appease them. In light of this, every designer should be fully knowledgeable of almost every design aspect so that he or she can similarly furnish the client (Razak, 821). In an organizational setting, Mr. Alderman is of the opinion that teamwork is important and co-designers should always respect each other’s work. In occasions where disagreements arise in terms of design ideas, compromises should be made.
As seen, the graphic design is not an easy are there are several skills that every graphic designer should have. The most important of these is creativity and innovation. This is the most important tool for every designer. In this computer age, the other vital requirement for graphic designers is good computer skills. One should be adequately skilled in aspects such as Corell Draw. In addition, a relatively strong visual sense and originality are other skills and requirements that every designer should have. The designer should also be able to balance several work projects at a time and work on them effectively without compromising the quality of any of them. The other skills that are paramount for the graphic designer include; ability to pay and give attention where necessarily, team work and flexibility (Razak, 820).
The graphic design fielddefinitely has its challenges and one of the challenges that Mr. Alderman emphasized on was that of keeping up with the latest design trends. Many designers are becoming obsolete, as a result their failure to incorporate the new and emerging trends into their works. The other challenge involves trying to convince clients about some design concepts since some of them are very apprehensive.
Graphic design is more or less concerned with communication in the form of art. However, this is not the only type of communication that is involved in the field. First effective verbal skills are of uttermost importance. The importance of good verbal skills is seen in the dealings with clients. Mr. Alderman told me that when he started his graphic design company, he took a communications class to be able to communicate better with his clients. He needed to learn good communication skills that he could utilize when he was pitching his ideas to clients. In an organization setting, good communication skills are needed to effectively interact with fellow designers. Some projects require a meeting of minds and one must have effective communications skills to coordinate activities with other designers (Justice, 76). As mentioned earlier, Mr. Alderman uses the internet to communicate with his clients. He has found it particularly effective with younger clients who are obsessed with the internet. Older clients prefer the one on one communication where they come to the company’s offices to state their requirements. To sum up the communications aspect of graphic design, Mr. Alderman stated that every designer must equip themselves with credible communications skills to relay their ideas comprehensively to both clients and colleagues.
The interview with Mr. Alderman was hugely successful, and I was able to gain a lot of insight about the graphic design field. I was particularly impressed with the way he was able to answer every single one of my questions conclusively.
I was enlightened on so many aspects about the graphic design field. I understood what it takes for one to be successful in the field. It is my hope that even as I continue with my education, I will be able to utilize the insight and advice that I gained from Mr. Alderman to my advantage and become a great graphic designer in future.
List of questions
How did you enter into this graphic design field?
What prompted you or what was your motivation to become a graphic designer
Describe your education in relation to this field
Describe your work experiences after finishing your education
What are the roles and responsibilities of a graphic designer?
How do you deal and interact with the clients
What the biggest challenges facing graphic designers currently
Describe the non-education skills that every graphic designer should have
How would you describe your growth in this industry?
How do you keep up with latest trends and advancements in the graphic design scene?
Taffe, S, and C. Barnes. "No More Design Experts? Meeting the Challenges of the Emerging Role of the Designer-Facilitator in Graphic Design." (2006): Print.
Jobling, P.. "Graphic Design History * Clean New World: Culture, Politics, and Graphic Design." Journal of Design History 16.3 (2003): 260-262. Print.
Justice, Lorraine. "Technology in Graphic Design: A Survey of the Changing Tasks and Environment of Graphic Designers."Design Management Journal (Former Series) 4.2 (1993): 74-79. Print.
Razak, Rafiza Abdul. "Shared Mental Model among Graphic Designers, Multimedia Designers and Subject Matter Experts in Designing Multimedia- based Instructional Media." Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 103 (2013): 818-825. Print.