I have always wanted to be graphic designer. Ever since my father bought me my first art box in 4th Grade, I was immediately drawn to the phenomenon that is art. I knew that my future career field would have something to do art. As I grew up and went to high school, I became more enthusiastic about art and also computers. For instance in high school, I was always enthusiastic about the computer assignments given to us in computer class, particular those, which involved simple graphic design tasks. That was when I decided that I would pursue graphic design in college. It was in one my recent graphic design classes that I was given an assignment to analyze a particular discourse community by interviewing a professional from this field. I was very eager to kick off because I knew that I stood to gain a lot from this interview. A discourse community refers to a specialized social group of individuals who communicate through written tasks and who share common goals. Members of a discourse community have a unique way of organizing and sharing information, experiences and ideas. John Swales defines a discourse community as a “groups of people that have purposes and goals and that use communication to achieve these goals (Swales, 53). Since my current major is graphic design, I choose the graphic designers discourse community to be the focus of my discipline investigation assignment. In recent times, the role of graphic designers has become more significant than ever. The main reason has been the massive advancement of computer technology. Computers have become part of almost every aspect of all our lives. The integration of computer technology and art has elevated graphic design to unprecedented levels (Poggenpohl, Web). By taking part in this assignment, I had a great opportunity to interact with a professional in the graphic design field who would provide adequate information on the responsibilities, the rewards as well as the problems of the field. I also knew that the information provided would help in evaluating the viability of my success in the field and in fact help me decide whether I had chosen the right career. In this kind of interview, which is informational in nature, one can be able to learn about a particular interest field by learning from another individual’s expertise and experience and I and I hoped to se this.
Background and Career Field
Therefore, to find out more about the graphic design field, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Marshall Pinkman. Mr Pinkman is renowned graphic designer who has designed countless pieces for individuals as well as corporate organizations in our area. Just like me, Mr. Pinkman was drawn to art from a young age. In his freshman year in college, he was still not decided on the particular area of art that wanted to major in. He therefore took various art related courses and it was at the end of the freshman year that he made his mind up and decided that he wanted to pursue graphic design as his major. After completing his undergraduate degree, he was employed as an assistant graphic designer at a local magazine publication where he worked for four years. According to Mr. Pinkman, working at the magazine publication equipped him with a lot of relevant skills and knowledge about the graphic design field. At the end of the two years, he quit his job and opened his own design company, Pinkman Designs. The company took some time to gain solid ground but after much persistence and hard work; it was able to become a profit-making venture. Currently, Pinkman Designs is one of the largest companies in the area that offering various graphic design services that range from book and magazine design, logos, posters, advertisements, billboards, website elements and graphics, product packaging amongst others. Mr. Pinkman was also keen to point out that in his ten years in the field; he has undertaken several self and career improvement courses that have significantly boosted his knowledge on graphic design. In addition, he makes a point of attending graphic design conferences, workshops and seminars where apart from acquiring vital knowledge on the discipline, he learns about other aspects such as leadership and teamwork Mr. Pinkman told me that in his 10 years in the graphic design field, he has grown a lot and he seeks to continue growing. He was however keen to stress that being a graphic designer is no easy task as the profession comes with many responsibilities and one must be able to cope with these to be an effective designer. According to him, graphic design is a calling for him. It was his interest in art from an early age that propelled him towards this career field. Consequently, he wanted a career that would not only bring him enough to pay the bills, but one where he would find passion in doing it. In graphic design, he has found a profession that is not only well paying, but also one that is actually very enjoyable. His deep passion for graphic design is what wakes up very early in the morning and he does not see himself venturing into any other field in the near future.
Roles and Responsibilities
As the head graphic Designer at Pinkman designs, Mr. Pinkman’s roles, duties and responsibilities span a wide scope. The job is more tedious that many assume it to be. Contrary to popular belief, a graphic designer’s job does simply entail sitting around on an office chair the entire day drawing or scribbling pretty pictures using either a felt pen or the computer. Mr. Pinkman’s day starts at 7.30 am when he reports to his office. The first duty is to go through client’s design requirements. He goes through the client’s design proposals and requirements and organizes meetings with them to discuss them one on one. Mr. Pinkman is also responsible for interpreting the client’s specific needs and developing concepts and that suit their purpose. He then presents the options for the required design treatments before creating the final design, and establishing the budget and constraints. The next step is presenting the design to the client and possibly amending them as per the client’s recommendations or comments. This process takes about two weeks. However, this is a a process for one single undefined design. Mr. Pinkman’s duties and responsibilities entail more than this. Being the head of company, he is involved in almost every single task any due to the fact that the company has a small workforce, Mr. Pinkman is at the forefront of almost every design job. He is responsible for designing different types of illustrations and layouts, typography and web design layouts as per brand or client guidelines. Mr. Pinkman is also charged with the role of creating and modifying fonts. He creates professional layouts and designs for various promotional materials dictated by the client such as handouts, direct mailings, posters, logos, signs and advertisements. Another responsibility of Mr. Pinkman is to prepare unique or new illustrations, creative layout prints as well as rough sketches of organization and presentation brochures and design graphics for websites. In light of this, he is responsible for determining the technique, style as well as the medium that is best suited for an organization’s promotion strategies.
In addition, to perform effectively, Mr. Pinkman has to keep abreast with the current and emerging trends in the design field so as to remain relevant. He does this by attending various seminars and workshops and by conducting secondary researches, for instance from the internet and graphic design journals.
In executing the various duties, roles and responsibilities associated with graphic designs, there are several challenges. The first challenge is with the clients themselves who in spite of the designer’s best efforts may remain unsatisfied and in the process frustrate the designer. Another challenge lies in acquiring some of the required software to complete unique design specifications. In addition, the fast advancement in technology although favorable to designers has its cons. Graphic designers have to be on their toes always to keep with the latest trends as failure to do this may render their work irrelevant or outdated (Taffe and Barnes, 45).
As with any other field, good communications skills are mandatory in graphic design. As a graphic designer, Mr. Pinkman is always seeking to improve his skills by taking various online tutorials, workshops and seminars, purchasing design magazines, books and journals.
Verbal communications skills are extremely vital in this field, particularly when it comes to communicating with fellow designers as well as existing and potential clients. There is need for professionalism in dealing with both clients and colleagues (Taffe and Barnes, 45).
Clients consider a graphic designer to have adequate knowledge on all design aspects and it is up to the designer to prove to the client that he is indeed well endowed with design knowledge and information. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by having proper communication skills. The choice of the channels to be used for communication is another vital aspect. Although one on one meeting is important, modern clients also appreciate the use of digital communications channels such as emails and social media. A good designer is one who is able to integrate several channels to effectively communicate with the client. According to Mr. Pinkman, graphic designers should however understand that there are some clients who are completely green on graphic design aspects and it is up to the designer to guide the client by using basic communication and explaining all the terms associated with the field. A designer should not take advantage of a client’s lack of design know how to defraud him. By helping this type of client, the design is exhibiting social responsibility, a crucial requirement of almost every career field.
In conclusion, Mr. Pinkman emphasized that proper communication presented a an avenue for designer to not only convey design concepts and policies to clients, but also make beneficial interactions with colleagues leading to the improvement of the entire field.
The interview with Mr. Pinkman was a true revelation. The amount of information that I acquired on the graphic design field is unmatchable. I had my queries and reservations about the field but after my interview with Mr. Pinkman; I was convinced that I had chosen the right career.
The information from the interview has motivated me to work even harder as I strive to acquire my degree. I have understood the roles, duties, responsibilities, demands and challenges of the field and this knowledge will help to prepare mentally as I get closer to entering the real world of graphic design.
Swales, John. “The Concept of Discourse Community.” Writing About Writing. Ed. Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Down. 1st ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 466-480. Print
"AIGA | What is graphic design?" AIGA | the professional association for design. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.
"Graphic designer: Job description | Prospects.ac.uk." Home page: Graduate jobs, Postgrad study, Work Experience, Graduate Career Information | Prospects.ac.uk. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.
Poggenpohl, Sharon. "Graphic Design: A Career Guide and Education Directory." (2010): Web.
Taffe, S, and C. Barnes. "No More Design Experts? Meeting the Challenges of the Emerging Role of the Designer-Facilitator in Graphic Design." (2012): Print.
List of questions
- You full names and the name of your company.
- How did you enter the graphic design field?
- What are the roles and responsibilities of a graphic designer?
- What are the challenges that graphic designers face on a daily basis?
- How do you mitigate the challenges of graphic design?
- What drives you or propels you continue in this field?
- Does graphic design “pay the bills”?
- What are the communications skills that every graphic denier should have to be effective in their responsibilities?
- What are the types of clients that you deal with on a daily basis?
- What advice would you give to anyone who hopes to join the field in future?