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Has anyone ever felt this way?

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  • Has anyone ever felt this way?

    I've been out of school going on two years with no luck finding a design job, nor have I been designing much in the past year. I feel the urge to take design seriously once again, but the inactivity has taken a toll on my skills and sometimes I just want to quit. Not sure if it's a long inhering creative block or a sign I wasted a bunch of time. Has anyone felt this and if so, how did you overcome it? (30k worth of debt later is a perfect time to contemplate life decisions huh?)

  • #2
    Hi Kent93 and welcome to GDF.

    We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
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    • #3
      I worked in retail 4 years before landing a full time ''design job.'' That's in quotes because what I do isn't exactly design in the manner of actual layout. I ''design'' how your designs fit into other people's architecture designs (think office building branding, exhibits, etc.)

      It all depends on where you're looking, how hard, and for what. You may have to be willing to relocate. And while you're looking you can't let your skills go stale. Anything creative helps. Get active in your town/church/local organization events. Look around for a place that might need intermittent or weekend help (I used to create clip art and stuff guest schwag bags on weekends for an event planner who did local trade shows and did some design for a small local printer in the evenings.)

      But recently I had a chance to look up what some of my old design classmates are doing (that's a whole different rant about what colleges consider OK to post online about their alumni...) Only 2 of about 20 of us are even in the design field, and both of us are in print. The predominant industry for the rest seems to be "banking" as in bank teller/customer service. Weird. Most designers hate math.

      Stick with it and try to be employed at anything. Even if you don't have the design jobs, having any job these days means you're at least persistent and willing to work.
      Last edited by PrintDriver; 01-26-2017, 09:56 AM.


      • #4
        I think everyone has seriously questioned their career path at least once in their lives. All you can do is be decisive, make a decision and, most importantly, take action.

        In your case you need to either decide to stick with it and keep working on finding a position in the field you trained in or throw in the towel and find something else that you want to do. Neither will be easy things to do.
        Design is not decoration.


        • #5
          Not trying to one up your situation, but rather inspire you:

          I went to the Art Institute online - translation the least amount you could possibly learn about graphic design while still obtaining a degree and paying a gigantic cost for it.

          My student loan debt was upwards of 80k.

          Any way, I was working at an insurance company while in college. I worked at this company for 5 years, with the last year or so already having obtained my degree. I contemplated if I had what it took to be a designer and really didn't design much that year after graduating. I was doing well at my insurance job and thought maybe I could make this work.

          I decided against complacency and began searching for a design job. I put my resume and pdf portfolio out into the world and didn't hear a thing. This was when I realized I had to give 100% focus to my job search, as going half way wasn't going to cut it.

          I quit my job (luckily my wife had a job and we lived with her mom at the time. (Still though makes you feel like less of a man when your unemployed living with your mother-in-law while wife goes to work everyday.)) to focus on getting a design job.

          I revamped my resume, made a portfolio site, checked linkedin and indeed everyday and used sites like to brush up on my skills.

          I spent 3 months being unemployed and that's with declining an offer from Staples because I did not want to be a digital media specialist. I eventually got the job I have now (graphic/web designer) and wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't took that leap of faith.

          I had to believe in myself and believe I could do it. By no means am I encouraging you to throw everything away. But for me I had to be unemployed to motivate myself enough to focus and give 100% to my job search.

          Good luck and I hope my story helps you in some way.


          • #6
            It's a hard, hard field to make a living in these days. A lot depends where you live too. In my city, design jobs are few and far between. Even when you get one, the pay is dismal (I turned down a part-time job at one of the coolest companies a designer can get into here because I just couldn't justify the pay, I would have done better as a shift supervisor at the DQ). Since moving here several years ago I've been freelancing but even that pool is drying up (or at least for me, I know some freelancers who are doing well. I just hate networking and marketing myself constantly).

            Not to depress you, just to let you know you're not alone. If you're going to make it in design, you have to have bring your A-game to the job search process and consider moving if there's just nothing available in your area.


            • #7
              An important question: why did you ever (temporarily) lose the urge to take design seriously?

              Ask yourself if you like the predictability of machines more than you like the unpredictability of working with people. Ask yourself if you like working with technology more than you like working with graphics. Ask yourself if you like graphics more than you like graphic design. Ask yourself if you like content development more than you like graphic design. Ask yourself if you like the subject of design in general more than you like the specific subject of graphic design. Ask yourself if you like job security more than you like graphic design. Ask yourself if you'd like to be respected more for what you know than respected for what you do. If the answer to any of the above is yes, then it might be time to accept and embrace a career change.


              • #8
                Unfortunately you don't realize just how much of a rip off college is until you graduate and your 50k in debt. The gov is guaranteeing everyone college tuition and letting the colleges name the price which is completely insane and has lead to the ludicrous tuition prices we now pay for college.

                This has been said before but where you live plays a huge role. I immediately knew I had to move to a bigger city if I wanted to survive. It took me several years of unemployment or extremely low pay until I landed a decent job. In fact I've only been making a "livable" salary for the past 8 months. Prior to that I was barely scraping by.


                • #9
                  You can't blame the government for not doing your math for you. And you can't blame colleges for becoming businesses in a capitalist economy. A product with limited availability (think classroom seats) is always going to be able to charge whatever the traffic will bear, and will take advantage of any regulatory and tax loopholes available to it.

                  That said,

                  Sitting down with a calculator and multiplying tuition + fees + 20% expenses x 4 is not all that hard (though it might not account for cost increases.)
                  Then taking a look at ''BASE salary of Graphic Designer'' (not the median, the base) minus taxes minus rent minus food minus car minus utilities minus other expenses and dividing the leftover (if any) into the debt above?

                  My boss does tell me I expect too much of an 18 year old kid these days, though.


                  • #10
                    Both Protagonist and PrintDriver make valid points. In defense of Protagonist, graphic design appears to be one of the "fun" careers that easily lure people into overwhelming debt and often don't pay enough to justify the expense of the education for the average person. It's a gamble more than it's an investment. But like many gambling games, people feel lucky and think they will somehow beat the odds. In defense of PrintDriver, it's on the individual when the individual doesn't do the math and figure his/her odds of success before gambling. And it's not entirely a gamble. If you up your game, you increase your odds of winning in any location.

                    It doesn't have to be that much of a gamble. Those of us who've ended up on the losing end of the gamble don't have to walk away from the profession bitter and leave it as we found it. Part of the reason why I'm on this forum is to help improve the profession in both compensation from outside the profession and collaboration from within the profession. That way the profession ups its game and improves its productivity at the same time it's earning the respect from those outside the profession.


                    • #11
                      It's pretty nearly 20 years too late for the graphic design industry.
                      What needed to happen the minute the first Mac/PC ran the first Adobe/Quark/Macromedia program was the professional associations in existence at that time needed to step up and set a criteria for becoming a designer, working with the colleges and those in the industry to develop a standard of practice that needs to be met in order to practice professionally, rather than opening up their membership to anyone who could write a check.

                      Now, there is no way to set a bar, there is no oversight of what colleges call a graphic design course, and the once common method of working up in skill level with a mentor in a design setting is slowly vanishing.

                      Hindsight is 20/20, but even as a student at the end of the stat camera/paste-up era, I could see it coming back in '94. I'd had an Apple computer in the house for 14 years already by that point (my dad was a ''bleeding edger''.) I'm sure the pros in the field were far more astute than I, and chose to ignore it.

                      If today's college student can't differentiate themselves professionally from the nephew in the cellar with photoshop, what good is that college education? I question that college education even more when a design graduate doesn't know what bleeds and safeties are...


                      • #12
                        College tuition in the 70s was about 3k on the high end. College tuition for my generation is about 12k on the low end. Therefore, even if a student was to choose from one of the more affordable colleges (s)he is still looking at a 4x increase - you can't blame that on "poor decision making."

                        Not to mention, a college degree is almost a requirement today. Simply put, the low income students who were rejected by private banks 40 years are now backed by gov loans and are attending some of the most expensive colleges in the nation.


                        • #13
                          Do you know what the average yearly income was in the 70s? About $10K
                          Today the average is about $53K.
                          Everything is relative.

                          $3k would get you into a state school all-in back then.
                          Remember, it isn't just the tuition. You could still get into UMass at under $2k per year for tuition in 2015. But the fees? And living on campus? Pretty close to $20k. It wasn't until last year, those number reversed. Pretty funny.
                          This opens a PDF:
                          Last edited by PrintDriver; 01-30-2017, 07:30 AM.


                          • #14
                            Absolutely- I have gotten creative block.. probably every 6-9 months or so. That's so common when your expected to be creative, fast, efficient and brilliant ALL the time. It's just a natural "mental" thing., If you acknowledge it and work through the struggle, typically you get stronger or learn something new about your creative process. As far as being 2 years in, not being able to find work, but dabbling here and there.. it's true the industry is cutting back. It's harder to get your foot in the door to a good job, bc nobody wants to start at a less than amazing pay, doing the not so amazing tasks and work their way up. I can tell you as an ad brat (my parents raised me in advertising)- most ad agencies are old school. They want respect, they want you to work your tail off and pay your dues like they did. The new comers are so entitled, they think they know more than the creative director, come in late EVERY morning and think just bc they have a degree they made it. Wrooong. Your first 5-7 years are almost like residency after med school. You still don't know jack abt advertising, despite what you think you do. You don't even fully know your creative process, your signature style, or why you design. So- that said- if you truly feel- you are an artist, your gifted, you work hard and this is your calling- then get your resume and start putting yourself out there. Abt 2 weeks to a month of hard core "marketing" yourself- you should have an opening somewhere. No, they're not a dime a dozen jobs. But usually the best fit for you is the one that comes. That's how it's always been for me. Sorry if this sounds rude- it's my honest opinion/advice.


                            • #15
                              Hi Graphix and welcome to GDF.

                              We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
                              Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.






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