Challenges as a graphic designer?

Hi, new to the forums. I’m currently a Design student and seeking to gain some insights into what it’s like to work in the field of Graphic Design - I’m wondering, for those practising as Graphic Designers currently, what do you find most challenging about your industry at the moment?

What I find most challenging, and you’re about to find out about it, is the extremely large number of student graduates who can’t find work, so they are out there “freelancing” without any clue about business or what works and what doesn’t, barely eking out a living, with very little hope for advancement. And they are fighting against the Clueless-With-Canva wannabees.
It makes me feel bad for them.

If you are going to succeed in this industry, take the long view, beyond the horizon, decide where you want to be in 20 years, and put your efforts behind that. “Doing Logos” and “Making Movie Posters” is not where the top of this industry is going. Think digital. Think interactive. Sure there are a few good clients out there in the print and branding world, but there are so few opportunities left where young designers can earn the chops to work for them, you’ll have to work extremely hard to get there.


It’s an industry in decline. Fewer opportunities. A lot of do-it-yourselfers. A lot of sticker shock from potential clients regarding the cost of pro design.

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The rise of Photoshoppers.

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  • It’s a saturated market.
  • Proliferation of DIY tools and cheap software has created less demand.
  • Contest and crowd sourcing sites are a race to the bottom.
  • Increasing prevalence and quality of AI.

Probably not the feedback you were hoping for, but, if one of my kids was thinking about following in my footsteps, I’d encourage them not to.


I completely agree with the others, but I’ll add one more thing that’s always been a problem but has become a bigger impediment during the last decade — clients who view hiring designers as renting an inexpensive pair of hands to implement their (invariable poor) ideas.

Even though, to some extent, the problem goes back decades, it’s been exacerbated by clients “art directing” clueless and cheap amateurs on crowd-sourcing sites. In addition, clients’ experience with do-it-yourself methods using Canva, MSWord, and various other consumer-level digital image and graphic editing software has given them a false sense of confidence in design-related areas they know little to nothing about.

I recently had a naive client thank me for bringing her ideas to life. She thought she was complimenting me. I saw it as the final confirmation I needed that she saw me as a computer-savvy graphics monkey whose hands she had rented. I turned down subsequent work from her — too much frustration, interference, and time spent on producing poor results for too little pay.

This problem is less of an issue at the higher end of the profession when dealing with experienced people who understand the importance of good design as it relates to their products and brand image and who are willing to pay for that expertise. However, the effects of what everyone has mentioned are rippling up the food chain and beginning to affect all of us to one degree or another.

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Thank you @PrintDriver I really appreciate your insights and how you’ve explained these clearly and candidly without ‘sugarcoating’ it. I will certainly look to take the long view as I consider my career goals and prospects. Cheers

Every designer faces problems or confusion when they start their journey as a graphic designer. There are lots of challenges they are facing but day by day designers learn how to handle people and how to convivence them with design. You must be open to embracing new challenges every day as a designer and have always an eye on what is new in the market or which trend is going on in the design world. But yes, designers learn new things every day by facing new challenges.

Gonna say this again for the millionth time.
Yes be aware of trends.
But don’t follow them just the follow them because it’s “trendy”
Trends END. Full stop.
Do what is best for your clients’ messaging. Lead. Don’t follow.

I know it’s a lot to ask of a high school student, but selecting a career and pursuing an education toward that career takes more than a little bit of forethought. There should be some kind of goal in sight, not just some willy-nilly wandering through a large and over-saturated field full of ill-prepared students and uneducated hobbyists. Especially now where, even today, students think Graphic Design is a fun and creative career. It is not. At least not always. Graphic Design has nothing to do with ART. It’s all about Communication. It’s about research. It’s about being able to see things from the public’s view of the message, not the clients’. It’s about being persuasive and being right, at least right enough most of the time to improve your clients’ bottom lines. Cuz that’s what it is all about. Your rep builds on your clients’ successes.

Way too many students of design find out far too late that what they create is not Art. It is a commodity to be sold; a commodity that requires some skill and experience to create. Giving it up shouldn’t be like selling your firstborn. In my work, everything is ephemeral. You might spend months on a project, lets say, a tradeshow display. All the print and collateral that goes into that display most likely will get tossed after the show. And I mean like Dumpster. You save the frames, you save the hardware, and you do it all again next year.

To the OP, get as much experience as you can while still in school. Pursue internships and part time work even if only peripherally related to your end goal. We used to say that entry level in the field of Graphic Design was 4 years of school and at least 2 years of real world experience, which was sort of a Catch22. Now? New grads are competing with seasoned designers for work slots at agencies. And it’s been my experience that over the last decade, at least in the Northeast US, most of the studio system has collapsed with seasoned designers being hired as contractors rather than in-house talent. There is no overhead anymore to bring in interns under this system and new grads are not likely to be hired to do this kind of work.

Kind of dismal, but if you have that goal, you may make it.


As others have said, the market is saturated. I think it goes further than too many graduates. At least they have an education and some knowledge of what they are doing and how far they have yet to go. For me, the issue is the countless armies of uneducated Canva heroes out there with no knowledge, hawking their wares as ‘professional’ designers. It serves only to erode both quality and expectation.

I shan’t go on, as others have made this point clearly.

All that said, I am less cynical about the future than others. My feeling is that this is just another pendulum swing (albeit a fairly extreme one). It will come back the other way. Because there is so much dross out there that simply doesn’t work, clients will begin to see this and start to seek out people who do know what they are doing.

It won’t happen overnight, but I think that it will, eventually. These things are always cyclical. I don’t think it will ever be the same, but things never are.

If you are going to do it seriousLy, then you are hopefully going the right way about it. Educate yourself (at a proper university with a reputation, not via some non-accredited online course), get as much experience as you can, so you have worth and can demonstrate it.

Don’t feed at the bottom of the pond. That is where it is over-saturated. Get some top quality studio experience working with high-end clients. They understand the value of effective design because it does affect the bottom line.

If it were economically advantageous to have Shiela from sales do corporate branding on canva, they’d do that. It isn’t. When was the last time you saw a blue-chip company using clip art and templates? Never. They know that a solid, coherent brand is an economic necessity.

Of course, all of this presumes you’re good enough to play with the big kids. Make sure you are. There will always be a lot of good people out there and you need to be competing against the best.

No pressure then.

Although there are never and guarantees and there are‘sager’ career choices out there, if there is one take away from this, it’s, aim as high as you can. Don’t bother with the bottom-feeders. Leave them to fight it out for the $50 logo work. They’ll all get what they deserve – clients included. Go play with the big kids. It’ll be more rewarding, both financially and creatively. Hard work, but far more fun. For all its ups and downs, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride so far,

Good luck


What I find most challenging? The fact that its so difficult to find customers, because of a high competition. When I talk to a client, they usually say: I can do it myself, Its better to use sites like canva, freelancers from upwork will do it for 20 euro.

  1. Idiot clients
  2. Keeping up with new developments, being adaptable

The first one is an every day thing, you just have to be polite, explain everything in layman’s terms, and provide solutions that the client can accept.
Example: I am doing a poster/flyer for an evening of tribute acts. Three acts each requiring a large photo, a logo and some text. The client introduces the idea - at a late stage, as it always is - that the venue’s food service should have its menu included, with photos of the food available. The Poster is less of a problem, but at the size on the flyer the menu is too small to read and the photos don’t look like anything. I pointed out that this would be a problem. It was decided that the poster can stand, with the menu taking up a quarter of the space available, and I suggested that on the flyer, the menu can be printed on the reverse. Result - happy client, which is all that really matters.

The second one is more of a long-term thing and may not be apparent from day to day.
Example: Over the years the software has changed. I started out on PageMaker, then Quark Press. When InDesign came out, I was eager to use it. My colleagues were less enthusiastic and I gained a significant advantage over them. By the time they made the change, InDesign had become more of the complex beast that we know today. My colleagues struggled with the learning curve and one or two left the industry altogether.