Why Aren’t You (Really) Good At Graphic Design?

from Seth’s Blog

Ten years ago, you had a wide range of excuses for being a lousy visuals person. Starting with no talent, leading to no skill and going from there.

But now, in a world where it is expected that professionals will be able to make beautiful powerpoint slides, handsome business cards, clever bio photos and a decent website, it’s as important as driving. And easier to learn and do, and requiring less talent.

No, you and I will never be gifted designers or breakthrough designers. But there’s really no reason not to be really good.

More here.

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18 Responses to Why Aren’t You (Really) Good At Graphic Design?

  1. Samantha Foo May 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    I agree with this article that people use to outsource print work for businesses to special companies. But because of Adobe Photoshop and photoshopping tutorials, many people can make their own brochures, powerpoints, and business cards. High schools and colleges and seminars have classes on how to photoshop images.

  2. Andrew Ehrhardt May 8, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    I have never been very good in this area. We never really covered this in high shcool and not really in college either. SO when I decided I wanted to be in business all those years ago I made sure of one thing. I made sure I made friends with a ton of graphic designers and now I don’t really have to worry about this much anymore.

  3. Brendan Laverty May 8, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    I agree with this article to an extent. I believe that people that do this for a living and go through schooling in it will definetly have more skill in the area than any normal joe schmo that starts using the programs. This being said, with today’s technology I believe that graphic design is a lot easier than it was. I know first hand after taking a class on Microsoft Office programs that it easier to use nowadays. Graphic design takes a creative mind and that you can’t aquire with practice. A lot of people that are in this field have a very creative mind. They know what something should look like and a lot of people such as myself can not.

  4. Jacqueline O'Donnell October 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    I agree with Seth in that it is very difficult to be in the business world without having the talent to put together a decent-looking power point presentation or having the eye to create attractive business cards. These tasks are left to business people themselves to create, rather than hiring someone to produce them. It leaves a great disadvantage to the older generations who need to catch up quickly with the graphic design aspect of their jobs now. Not only do they have to learn the basic workings of a computer, but now they must be able to design on the computer in competition for their jobs. Having a guide, as listed in Seth’s blog, can really help business people to stand out in the work place with great marketing through graphic design.

  5. Anthony Correale December 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    I actually really enjoyed reading this article because I could not agree with Seth any more. Being that I am only a year and a half away from going into the business world I see just how many diverse skills one must have. Not only do I have to be good with numbers and able to write things on microsoft word, I have to be able to use powerpoint and make good visual presentations. At first, the thought of this really scared me being that I was never good at any type of any visual art. In the beginning I really thought that this would hold me back from obtaining the jobs I wanted, but as I got older and started using the programs I noticed that this would not be true just as Seth mentioned.
    Like Seth said ten years ago there were excuses for having no visual skill and creativity. People would just say that they are not talented and cannot go anywhere with any field having to do with this. Although I did not use this as an excuse, I seriously thought that was true. I thought I just had no talent with anything visual and not go anywhere with it. Before college and the later years of high school I would get a bad grade on any visual project and this really made me believe I would struggle in the future because of this.
    Once I started using software such as powerpoint and other things on the computer to make visual presentations this all changed. It undoubtedly made everything much easier for me. I was never able to draw good or make any type of visual art on my own, but the computer took care of this problem. I was able to make any presentation in school easily, while at the same time making it look good. The problem was that I always had great ideas in my head, but could never actually make them look like what I wanted. With a computer this is not a problem and could just find any picture I wanted to put on the presentation. I am no longer worried about my non-artistic ability and fully agree with Seth here. It just goes to show how much times have really changed, and may have changed for the better.

  6. Vanessa Bautista December 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Graphic designing is all about using your creativity. I work at a place where graphic designing is almost like a necessary requirement. Every one has their own sort of style, but it depends on who’s style is the most original and looks the best. It is all about your visuals and being able to see which designs are great, bad, or needs more work. When you create a web page, you want to portray a sense of style along with your twitter, blogs, and any books. You have to take the initiative to know what a quality design really is. It will definitely be worth for me to minor in graphic designing or even fashion design. I have always had a passion for designing.

  7. Mariecia Wilkinson April 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    Many programs today make designing more easier to do. From Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator; all you have to do is learn to apply certain filters to your liking and you can have a masterpiece. I start taken design classes at my university in hopes that I would be able to awake my creative ideas. It has in some way put I feel that the programs in use make it too easy. For example my Multimedia Design teacher makes the text book that we use. She hasn’t update it to include the new features of the newest version of the design programs. In ever class when we have to do a project we skip pages of instructions because the updated program automatically makes the changes for you. I still believe that design is a beneficial skill to add to your resume. It shows that you can be well rounded and have creativity that could possible expand beyond that of color and design especially if you major is in business that may involve design.

  8. MRC April 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    This really hits close to home because in my new role at work I am coordinating a graphic design team with my operations team. I have been asked to do various things related to graphic design and despite seeing it everyday I still feel very out of my comfort zone. Of coarse power point and any of the microsoft software programs are fairly easy and user friendly but it would be nice to have a intermediate knowledge of the workings of something to enhance these programs and make them really pop. But as the first commenter says thats why a company is not comprised of equals and everybody has their role.

  9. Lindsay Cotte September 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    I went to a technical High School and I studied Graphic Design for four years. I learned everything from T-shirt screening to using a press for printing the school newspaper. Most of the time was spent using the computers and using various programs. These programs allowed the class to make business cards, stationary, font booklets etc. Today I use these skills by making flyers and brochures for my boyfriend’s lawn care business and I also made a Web page for the business which I learned studying Graphic Design.

  10. Shelbey Manthorpe November 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    I do believe that in today’s world it is imperative that people going into the workforce know certain skills to get a job. It is very important to be able to make Powerpoints for presentations and meetings, business cards, mastering programs like Excel and Word and making decent websites. These talents will shows employers your professionalism,creativity and independence. Being skilled in this fields will help you complete your work faster and more efficiently. Only good things can come from learning graphic design.

  11. Jameisonia Bellamy December 16, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    It’s funny he includes in his article that now professionals are expected to have beautiful power-points and a separate article posted a couple months ago by another author was titled “Death to PowerPoint!” Why? Because PowerPoint has reached its peek and is now obsolete. ..Anyway, I believe being well rounded in every field or having at least some basic ‘how-to’ knowledge in every field is beneficial for self and business. It does not take much but to read and experiment. Just gain some sort of understanding. If you are a student, get to know your peers and elaborate on the majors of your choices. Ask questions like: What? Why? How?

  12. Jordan Dash October 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    First off, I really do enjoy Seth Godin and his work. As a marketing major, I usually spend a lot of time watching tons of videos about consumer behavior, marketing psychology, and creativity. Seth has tons of videos where he speaks to students on how to get their feet wet and explore different options in the world of “no rules”.

    In this article specifically, he talks about the importance of graphic design and why we aren’t really good at it. It is a very good point and I know just the answer. The problem is that people let their major define them. They don’t think outside the box on what can help them run a business. All they think about is doing their required courses and getting a job in that field. Its more than just getting a job, its about creating them. Its about saying, ” yes I’m the Finance guy, but I also help out with the IT department”.

    With things like graphic design, you don’t necessary need to learn InDesign, but you should know how to make an aesthetically pleasing powerpoint for your company and make your company more appealing even if you aren’t the marketing or graphic design person.

  13. Matt Cecio September 11, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

    It may be difficult for a graphic designer to find his or her place in the industry if they do not possess basic skills. By now, most graphic designers should have remedial knowledge of PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and Adobe products. Those products are the foundation for all design systems today. One of the under appreciated skills that graphic designers do not think about is their ability to draw freehand. Since most designers have tools and software to draw them a perfect circle or trace a human face, so drawing with paper and pencil seems like a challenge. Sketching can be the deciding factor that makes a good designer better.
    I agree with Seth that most people will not be “breakthrough designers,” but there is always room for improvement. Personally, I try to constantly update my portfolio based on new skills I attempt to learn. I visit websites like tutsplus.com, a free website where professional graphic designers, coders, web developers, and artists post tutorials and helpful articles for those looking for some guidance and tips. Even if I do not understand or attempt the tutorials, they are still helpful to spark some imagination and create something of my own. Learning new skills and tips, no matter the field, is a great way to make you stand out.

  14. Dom D. November 13, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    I agree that there has been a shift in the graphic arts profession over the years. It used to be that anyone could just draw up a design or idea and that’s it. It could be a rough sketch or idea but it would get looked at and considered. Now we hold the images and designers too much higher standards. The work must almost be flawless to be considered. I believe this pushed many designers out of the field or required them to inquire on was to improve on their skills.

    I believe that the increased standards have in returned increased how competitive the graphic design industry is. With holding the designs and their designs to these higher standards it cuts out those who are not good enough to be in that field as well as forcing those remaining to push harder to perfect their work.

  15. Paul Link November 13, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    The blog post written by Seth Godin briefly explains his opinion of the graphic design industry and how he believes that professionals should take advantage of the internet to create their own designs. Godin essentially states that due to today’s technology that businessmen and women have the ability to make their own creations. He believes “in a world where it is expected that professionals will be able to make beautiful PowerPoint slides, handsome business cards, clever bio photos and a decent website”, visual design is as “important as driving, and requiring less talent” (Godin). While I can certainly agree with Godin’s mentality that professionals should be as well rounded as they can be, I think that Godin’s view on graphic design is unfair and hurting the industry.

    While Godin does bring up some interesting points in his blog post, the mentality that almost anyone can become a decent designer is causing distress for those in the industry. My oldest cousin, who graduated with major in Graphic Design and has designed for clients such as the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers, has several times complained about those with Godin’s mentality toward graphic design. If I remember correctly, it wasn’t the fact that a client/supervisor wasn’t pleased with his work, it was that they underestimated how much time they put into designing these graphics. I remember him specifically saying that his clients, when he first started out, would knit pick certain things in his design which they believed could be a simple fix, but in reality will take a significant amount of time After reading this article, I can now see the mentality of those my cousin complained about. Not that there is anything wrong in Godin’s perspective, but to me If I had to design a website or create print for my business I would look to hire some sort of graphic designer before I even think of tackling it myself. While this may be due to my lack of artistic abilities, I think there is a gap between professional graphic design and amateur design. Even though there might be tutorials out there on the web to aid entrepreneurs in designing their own, they should highly consider seeing a professional.

    Works Cited:

    Godin, Seth. “Seth’s Blog.” Seth’s Blog. 31 Mar. 2009. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. .

  16. Tori Breazeale February 9, 2018 at 10:54 pm #

    This article assumes that all professions are hiring a highly skilled staff, specifically one that excels in graphic designs. Due to greater accessibility in technology, the techniques would be easier to translate. I disagree. Despite its accessibility, one must still be trained to utilize these resources properly. This is why things like iPhone training exist. Someone I know attends these meetings on a weekly basis to acquire the information needed to run this service. Everyone works at their own pace.
    The article also claims that graphic designs are applicable in all professions. Although it may be incorporated, the average person cannot initiate these artistic designs. An eye for art is a necessity. You also have to adapt to others ideas and preferences on art and what it means. You must have an overall understanding of the current trends consuming major society today. If you do not have these capabilities, the idea of graphic design may not come as easy. For example, I am a very structured individual. 2+2=4. There is absolutely no way it can equal 5. However, with the use of creativity and keeping your mind wide open, you can create a whole new world, one in which you design. I am straightforward. There is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Art, however, is not formal. Creativity is not tolerated in my profession. A professor of mine once said, “If you were to be creative in Accounting then you are doing something wrong and are going to jail.”

  17. Jack Peterson October 26, 2018 at 10:04 pm #

    I am one of the least artistic persons you could ever meet. I am someone who received a C in art class throughout middle school from just being awful at drawing. I think the main reason I am not artistic is because I think in a different way. In my head, I can imagine exactly what I want something to look like. But, when I want to lay it down on paper it looks nothing like the original. Graphic design however could be something I could be good at. When I say I am not artistic it is always been in drawing. If I could take that image I have in my head and recreate it via a computer I could be good at graphic design.

    In this day in age, we all take computer courses that a required to graduate. From Microsoft Powerpoint, Excel, and Access we all learn the basics. The people who find these courses super interesting eventually go on to taking higher level ones. We all need to be proficient in these programs because today, all businesses use them. As a Business Administration Major, I know I will need to use them in my day to day activities.

  18. Santiago Gomez April 12, 2019 at 8:53 pm #

    I am one who looks like an artistic person but, I produced one of the worst designs ever. I am someone who really does not enjoy creating art or talking about art. It could just be my ignorance about creating or talking about art. And in today’s world, we have software’s that create these designs that may seem hand made art. Graphic design has been becoming very popular since the release of Adobe Photoshop and other Adobe software that produce a graphic design. I am one of those who has taken classes about graphic design and produced many works that came out terrible in my eyes. Due to my incapacity of this software. I can consider myself to be very bad at graphic design. This can tell me to become to be open about other things that are in the world. To learn about the basics of Adobe and learning different skills is very useful. Even has a business major I think having these useful tools can help progress in my career.

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