(I don’t mean for this to come across as a rant, but more as a description for people like my grandmother who never really understood what I do.)
I cringe when co-workers ask me to “make it look pretty.” Yes, this happens to me more often than I’d like to admit. Of course, they aren’t trying to be rude, but to me, it feels like describing what I do as frivolous.
Here is what I do as a graphic designer:
1. Organize other people’s information to make it clear and concise. Make sure the basic questions are answered and that information is easy to find. I filter out the extra unnecessary parts.
2. Make it look like their organization so people know which group it belongs to (e.g. color schemes, typefaces, logos).
2. Make it visually appealing (aka make it pretty), but more than that, make people want to look at it. Grab their attention and hold it.
4. Find a budget appropriate production method and timeframe. (At times, this is printed in house and hand cut by me. Other times it’s sent out to a printer or fabricator.)
5. Assist with enticing and recognizing sponsors and how to provide that in printed materials. People are more willing to put their company name on a piece that looks polished.
6. Help people time their message. You don’t want to hang a poster or run an ad four weeks prior to an event. It will just become visual clutter, and it will be forgotten or overlooked.
To me, graphic design is visual communication. It’s not fine art. I’m not creating a piece because I like it. I’m creating it in an effective way to convey a particular message.
My designer takeaway: I bite my tongue, smile and nod. Then I remind myself what the piece would look like without my efforts. I’m sure I over-simplify what many others do as well. 🙂