Articles

Prejudice Among Designers

by . August 3rd, 2014

18

You don’t have the right to pitch your ideas because you lack experience from the “real world”.

A friend once told me the horrifying experience of a fresh grad designer who was immediately hired to teach at his alma mater. In the middle of a design faculty brainstorming of some sort, this fresh grad designer pitched his ideas and was immediately cut short by someone with a higher position, and said that he’s not allowed to voice out his opinions because he doesn’t have industry experience.

While that was an example of sheer rudeness, it was also a clear sign of prejudice.

 

image source
image source

 

What is Prejudice? Does it exist in the design industry? What are some common prejudices among designers?

Prejudice literally means prejudgment. It is a general attitude (usually negative) about another person based on his/her perceived membership in a group. Common implications of prejudice include negative feelings, stereotyped beliefs, and discrimination against certain members of a particular group.

Most prejudices are based upon stereotypes which can be both positive (“women are warm and nurturing”) or negative (“teenagers are lazy”). Stereotypes often lead to false beliefs and may also result to both prejudice and discrimination.

 

image source
image source

What I’ve learned from my friend’s story is a common prejudice that exists not only in the design industry, but also among members of different disciplines. In this post, we’ll talk about usual prejudice among designers based on experience and some overheard from colleagues.

Experienced or senior designers are better than newbies. As in the story, one common prejudice between a senior and a junior designer is how they measure skills by experience alone. Being in the industry for quite a long time gives person credibility, but it doesn’t mean that we need to set aside what newcomers can offer. Both parties have their own strengths and weaknesses, and by the end of the day, the things that matter most are their capabilities and what can they offer to the industry.

 

image source
image source

Designers who practice “spec work” are not real designers. Speculative Work is defined by AIGA as work done prior to engagement with a client in anticipation of being paid. People who hold and participate in design contests (a cunning form of spec work) devalue the industry. Designers work very hard and spend unimaginable amount of time doing their craft. Therefore, the services they render should be compensated equally.


4

On the contrary, probably some designers do spec work for mere exposure or experience, and maybe they just want to build their portfolio.

Another prejudice is how some designers seem motivated by money over doing great work. False! In fact, new designers are motivated most by learning new things more than financial rewards or employer recognition. (Adobe New Creatives Report, June 2014)

 

image source
image source

Yes the goal is to generate profit, but for most designers, nothing beats the feeling of fulfillment from seeing your ideas come to life.

The prestige of your college/university/art school/collective/clique/scene defines your capabilities.. I’ve encountered people who prejudge the character of other people based on how known is the school from which they graduated. Some may tend to measure what other people can do depending on where they came from or what specialization they took.

 

image source
image source

A formal education may be essential for you to get your ideal career, but not everyone needs one to prove that they CAN. Truth be told, some of the greatest artists and designers don’t hold degrees or studied in arts and design schools. In the end, the things that matter are your skills and how you apply what you’ve learned either from your professors or from self-teaching.

Positive prejudice among designers includes:

1. “As designers we must not stop to learn new tools and techniques.”;
2. “We must better ourselves by working across multiple medium and disciplines.”;
3. “Designers often have unique signature styles.”; and
4. “DESIGNERS WON’T SAVE THE WORLD. BUT THEY DAMN SURE MAKE IT LOOK GOOD”.

Prejudice often leads to avoidance. One way we can do to reduce or prevent it is to train ourselves to be more empathetic. Imagine ourselves in the same situation of the people we prejudge. That way, we will be able to think about how they react and understand more of other people’s actions.

Sources:
Adobe New Creatives Report, June 2014
Prejudice: What It Is, How It Forms, & How to Prevent It

We’d like to hear your thoughts and opinions regarding prejudice among designers. Share them through the comments box below.

Follow us on TwitterFacebookGoogle+Tumblr, and Pinterest!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gian (@gpbbautista) is a 20 year-old multimedia designer from Manila, Philippines. He specializes in graphic design, illustration, photography and interactive authoring. See his works on Behance or Tumblr.