Graphic design is art... but it is also advertising. It is not simply being creative, it is about knowing your clients and their industries in order to sell them the most effectively to their target audiences. In order for you to successfully advertise your client’s product, business or services, you have to KNOW it and their customers as well as they do... more so. There are few careers where this is the case. You should also have a good grasp of history, culture, sociology, psychology, and technology. What? Did someone say graphic design was easy? That is a perception we designers fight every day. There IS a difference between a professional designer and someone’s teenage nephew who just got PhotoShop.
Learn the rules and guidelines to great design, but don’t be constrained by them. Learn what it takes to create, not just beautiful design, but, highly effective, highly saleable design. If you have the creative talent, the ability to be creative no matter the constraints (brand guides, time, money, committees!, etc.), AND the drive to be constantly learning, this is the career for you. Just remember rule #1: NEVER, EVER, fall in love with your own designs...
Love them, but let them go. For some potentially great artists and designers, emotionally they cannot separate themselves from their art. They cannot give a design the client's personality or allow a client to take possession. For true artists every design has a piece of their soul in it. As true as this is, being a starving artist is neither fun nor romantic. You have to decide if you want to design as a career... then you have to be able to let go. In the end the client owns the design, not you. Not all design is high art, intelligent or clever. Not all clients are artistic, intelligent or clever. Such is the way of BUSINESS.
For those working their way up, you will get to a place where you can exert more and more control. Your education, training and, above all, experience (and hopefully body of work), will back you up when dealing with clients. If you have learned, if you've paid attention to trends and technology, if you know this business... it will show. And more and more people will seek you out for your particular brand of design. Then the control will all be yours and you can love all your designs as they deserve.
Creative Orange Design is a graphic design company serving San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Calgary, Canada and around the world.