Graphic Design = wage donkey

Holy shizzle, where to begin. When one is in school for anything in the arts, the most exercised creative principal right behind craft is concept. Hours are spent analyzing how visual cues can symbolize more than the obvious and communicate. Projects upon projects deal with this. It is fun and interesting creating your own little designed world and ad campaigns and look forward to the day you can bless your honed creative skill on the world. Then, you get a job.

I know you need to work your way up but with the large amount of jaded people in this industry I know it is not just me and my company. It is not creative in the barest sense of the word, save the concept dept. and creative directors who still need to cater to the client which usually ends up same thing over and over again. At that point it is just a corporation and you are the wage donkey. Production artist, not even a graphic designer. It can take SO long to work up to a Senior level it at times doesn’t seem worth it. Why did you do all this expensive schooling to just be placing tools and detergent in grided ad pages? Its fucking depressing. I hear of people getting kick ass design jobs for Echo and the like. Free reign to actually have a say in what goes on and not just a style guide plopped in your inbox and numerous emails updating it every 20 mins. I just haven’t been lucky enough to get one of those kick ass jobs.

For you kids thinking of going in this field, the market is very over-saturated. It became the ‘hot job’ about the time I was getting into it, think back to 1999. It has commercial applications (meaning = $$$) but is still ‘art’ (that is debatable) and tends to attract those who don’t want to do math and liked art class in school. Even the job roles for Art Directors and up are more project managing than anything creative. If you are looking to make good money with this field, think again. It is ok but in general not equal to what most people paid for the schooling which is a sad irony. Be a radiologist kids. They make bank. Think $300k instead of $35k. Zeros are good.

And dealing with clients is a fucking nightmare. They don’t know what they want, you give them options yet don’t like any of them because, well, they don’t know why. Finally they decide on one and change and change and change until it is nothing like it started and you just don’t care about the aesthetic anymore just to get it done because it obviously doesn’t matter to them. This is the part I find the hardest about the job. Yes, the client pays the bills and I understand but they hired you (say in a freelance situation) or your company because of experience, knowledge and skill but they think they know what is right all the time even on decisions they have no background to make. That would be like me hiring a financial advisor and not listening to his advice and telling him to buy this, what to invest in etc. In the end, he will do it because you are the client but it makes for a strained relationship and unsatisfactory results for both parties.

In the end I just want to sit behind my computer, use the software I know forwards and backwards and make interesting work, have benevolent owners are operators and get paid good money for my skill and knowledge that not every monkey has. I would be willing to work hard for someone I like other than to not just piss middle management by just getting by. Perhaps someday that will happen but for now, I need to make money and I will be the layout monkey and hope I get more than a 2.5% raise and in a few years might be promoted. Sad.

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