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107. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Design?

toolbox.jpgWhat a great topic on which to begin the first article of the new Graphicology. That is, whether the name itself - or more specifically the title of what we do – is it accurate? Is being called a graphic designer an outdated term? Is it limiting? Does it have the wrong connotation? Keep in mind that I've never even had the title of graphic designer - my title has always been art director (or later, senior art director or associate creative director.) But the problem is the same - should we call ourselves communication designers as Errol Saldanha suggests on Would this site of ours be better served were it called communication-ology? Or Design-ology? Conversely, is Marian Bantes correct when she suggests on SpeakUp that using a more business-minded, strategic title emphasizes what you have in common with a client and not what separates you or makes you special/needed?

After much thought, I have chosen to stick with the graphic part. This is not to say that I don't understand the allure of turning away from graphic design as a job title. Heck, I'm just as strategic, intellectual and bottom-line minded as any CEO out there – at least in terms of how it relates to a design project. I simply feel that we cannot afford to water-down the magic that we can bring to a client with terms and titles that are familiar or more approachable from an executive's perspective but in the end less descriptive and generic. I have personally witnessed too many clients fail when trying to be all things to all consumers to so easily fall into the same trap myself. And although 'graphic designer' does not sufficiently explain all the mediums we manipulate or areas of expertise we may possess such as words, sound, or animation. It does give distinction from other designers - architects, engineers and the like - as well as connect us to a rich history of those great graphic designers that have come before us. Does anyone really believe that Paul Rand or Jan Tschichold would not have thrived in the current environment where the distinctions between art and business are blurring? Ultimately, I do not think the title of graphic designer does any real harm or limits the opportunities of today's designer. A talented graphic designer - who approaches a project with not only an artist's curiosity, but with the strategic and communication skills necessary to build a solid long-term relationship with a client will still thrive. It's the reluctance to develop these professional skills by many graphic designers that reduces the industry's value in the marketplace not the name we choose to call ourselves. After all, it's supposed to be a broad summary of an industry or job title, not a precise description of every attribute we posses. But, what do you think? 

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Reader Comments (1)

If we try to look into the future and see where this problem might resolve, and we change our titles to something we find more "fitting", is that really going to solve the problem? Aren't we all in control of our own design destinies anyway? If we want to be seen as a more versatile and knowledgeable designer then it us up to us to take the steps to make sure that people know what our capabilities are.

There will never be one solution to this problem, we have to take it upon ourselves to constantly educate people on what we do. They will know, in working with us, that we fulfill many different roles and they will be able to decide for themselves just how many different roles we play in creating great design. It's just a broad title, it's not as if we can come up with a 30 word description of what we do and fit it on a business card - people should already know that.
July 4, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterelissa

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