Practicing graphic designers
The figures in the graphic above represent the results from a survey cast in the US and UK in 2016 among 2,000 practicing graphic designers¹. As a graphic designer with ten years professional experience I came back to college in order to remain competitive within my industry. I feared that I would become obsolete or irrelevant if I didn’t keep chasing the latest software and trends. It was obvious from the studios I had previously worked in, that older graphic designers tended to disappear once they hit their forties.
This survey confirmed my suspicion, with only 10% of all practicing graphic designers surveyed in the US and UK being in their 40s. It was already obvious that junior designers dominated the field of practicing graphic designers but I only started to investigate this seriously, in recent months. I wondered if anyone had figured out why or could offer any concrete explanations. One of the opinions is that junior designers come into the market right up to speed with the latest software and trends and can be employed a lot cheaper than senior designers. It is important to mention that age and experience (junior and senior) don’t always match. A junior designer can be any age. However, a designer in their 20s is almost certainly a junior developing into a middleweight role but they should not have reached senior status yet.
It is with this survey in mind that I believe the work I have created will be most effectively used as a conversation starter that can address the challenges graphic designers face within their own industry and with each other. Upon reflection I realised that it is also very important to bring the younger, junior designers into this discussion early. As software continues to develop at a rapid pace, it is almost certain that they too will face these challenges. At Austin’s South by South West in March 2019, it was noted² that several speakers addressed the end of the smartphone. It is forecasted that voice technology will supersede visual interfaces and the screen will lose its dominant role in verbal communication.
These kinds of threats to the practice of graphic designer can also be seen as exciting opportunities that will instigate reinvention and discovery. It is my opinion that these kinds of conversations around the challenges and potential threats should be happening in design schools at a bachelor level as well as at design conferences and within design studios.