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There are probably as many kinds of designers as there are kinds of
design, so how do you know whether a career in design might be
right for you? First, you might take a look at the clusters of
characteristics often shared by designers and see if you find
yourself reflected there. Begin with the three most common traits
designers share: interest in the visual world, curiosity about
communication in all its forms and creativity.
Designers tend to be skilled “lookers.” They take in the world
both visually and conceptually. They scrutinize color and texture,
they look at relationships between things and they find the
repetition and rhythm in what they see. Conceptually, designers
look at an idea from all sides, searching for an approach with a
twist-one that goes beyond the ordinary. These habits of the eye
and mind feed their creativity. For designers, the world of objects
and ideas becomes an immense playground from which they emerge with
fresh ideas and images.
I am an information architect. Architect in my definition
doesn't mean style but a kind of rigor in thinking. Information
means understanding-and my only passion is to make things that
interest me understandable. -Richard Saul Wurman
My early studio exposure to a design studio made me aware of
the design profession as an opportunity to apply analytical
abilities to an interest in the fine arts. Graduate design programs
made it possible for me to delve more deeply into the aspects of
design I found personally interesting. Since then, the nature of
the design profession, which constantly draws the designer into a
wide range of subjects and problems, has continued to interest me
in each new project. It's been this opportunity to satisfy personal
interests while earning a living that has made design my long-term
career choice. -Won Chung
I need to make things that connect in a meaningful, useful,
evocative way to others, and I like to indulge in the sensuousness
of the material world. I learned that I could use design not only
to reach into myself and express my own feelings, but also to reach
out to others with images and words that are well researched and
thought out, condensed and transformed into a communication that
could involve everyday folks in our shared public environment.
-Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
I like the way words look, the way ideas can become things.
I like the social, activist, practical and aesthetic aspect of
design. -Laurie Haycock Makela
When I was a child I was obsessed with drawing. At the age
of six, when I was confined to a bed for a year as a result of a
childhood illness, I found that the only things that kept me busy
were building cities out of clay and drawing. Obviously, the urge
toward form-making was an important part of my makeup. -Milton
As a reflection of their creativity, designers often have an
abundance of curiosity. They ask questions, delight in playing the
devil's advocate and are often reluctant to accept someone else's
habits or customs. Some say they are “off-center”-more
self-directed than they are controlled by society or others.
Designers also have intellectual curiosity: they want to understand
how communication works, and they are not timid about trying out
their ideas on their family and friends. They are interested in the
visual interpretation of abstract ideas. They draw, they read, they
experiment, they make things. They explore culture by participating
in it, not only by doing things but also by observing the creative
work of others, including attending concerts, seeing films, or just
paying attention to life as it goes by. They soak up sensory
experience and ideas.
Making things is second nature for designers. Somehow thinking
something or saying something just isn't enough. Designers sense
intuitively that the process of making something real engages the
mind in a different and powerful way: forms and colors change; new
ideas emerge. They like projects with definite beginnings, middles
and endings because these kinds of projects are tied to development
and achievements. Generally, designers dislike routine or
maintenance activities. Starting something new and unknown
Designers are attracted to things that perform a definite
function-things that are useful and beautiful. They are interested
in improving everyday life rather than creating art for museums. To
designers, the limitations of design and communication are seen as
challenges rather than as straightjackets.
As you have seen, there really is no exact, ideal, universal
designer type. General characteristics-including creativity,
openness to new ideas and a desire to explore the visual world-are
more important than specific traits or qualities. Coming from a
variety of backgrounds, from all ethnic groups and from locations
as diverse as New York City, Great Plains States, Kansas and Tokyo,
Japan, designers are different and seek to refine that difference
as they appreciate the differences of others.
I became a graphic designer because my best skill, drawing,
did not exercise the rest of my mind. -Colin Forbes
When I was growing up, I wanted to be an artist and an
actress. This desire lasted until my second year of college, when I
became attracted to design. I took my junior year at design school
with the ideas of returning to my former college-but I never went
back. My destiny was design. -Deborah Sussman
Graphic Design: A Career Guide and Education Directory
Edited by Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl
The American Institute of Graphic Arts
Suppose you want to announce or sell something, amuse or
persuade someone, explain a complicated system or demonstrate a
process. In other words, you have a message you want to
communicate. How do you “send” it?
Section: Tools and Resources -
What do professional designers really do? This question needs to
be asked in order to answer why you need a design education and
what you need to study.
There are hundreds of design programs in the United States, and
their content and philosophies vary widely. This gives you a lot of
options, but is also means that identifying the particular programs
best suited to your needs and interests can be difficult.
Has this venerable protest symbol lost its significance? Patton examines how the rebellious clenched fist evolved from a charged radical image to Howard Stern’s new logo.
Section: Inspiration -
print design, critique, Voice
There are two roads to travel as a designer matures: one is to become bitter and resent younger designers and new ideas; the other, the one that Saul followed, is to help the next generation, to be open to new ways of making and thinking, and to work for the entire profession.
Section: Inspiration -
motivation, personal essay
Is individual achievement a thing of the past? Lupton reports that working in teams is the next big thing, and the last big thing too.
Section: Inspiration -
professional development, Voice
Learn more about the jurors’ thoughts on this 2013 “Justified” selection.
Section: Why Design -
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http://t.co/D8RJEOCzRJ Lovely and fresh-feeling identity and packaging design for La Tortilleria in Mexico. http://t.co/pPIPwilQmA
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Shared in Tools & Resources by
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Silas H. Rhodes
Keep Off the Grass
Volume Inc., San Francisco