I need help with a job title!

I need help deciding on a job title. I’ve worked in corporate offices for over 10 years with the title Graphic Designer or Marketing Graphic Designer as I’ve always been the Lone Ranger. I got laid off (a company bought us with an existing design team) so I decided to start my own business. My clientele is continuing in healthcare (Ophthalmology, Optometry) and it’s time to upgrade my Graphic Designer title. I’ve never had anyone under me but I handle everything (branding, marketing materials, updates for the website and social media etc.) I’m thinking Creative Designer (or Director), or Art Director, but I’m not sure if they line up with what I’m doing. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

One cannot call oneself director if one does not have staff to direct.

“Designer” is vague enough to encompass a lot of duties.

That’s sort of what happened to me three years ago, so I’ve been running my own design business since then as I gradually talk myself into retiring.

Over my career, I’ve held a dozen different titles at various places. In my current position, I do everything myself, from sales to accounting to design to vacuuming the carpet. I’ve decided that having every title is exactly the same as having no title at all, so consequently, I don’t need or use one.

If you are the owner of your company, then you are the Principal Designer.
What’s left of design studios here in the city usually just have a Principal. Then they hire in staff contractors as need arises.

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I was going to say the same thing as @PrintDriver and say Principal.

I have a similar story…forced to strike out on my own. I author content. I sell brand and product strategy. I title myself Principal Consultant. If you run the thing yourself, for yourself, you are a “Principal”.

For me, the word principal carries too strong of an association with the head administrators of American elementary and secondary schools.

In other words, a principal is an evil sadist monster that torments children, as I once was, who refuse to conform to their identity-squelching demands.

“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat? You! Yes, you behind the bike stands. Stand still, laddy!”

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I feel the whole job title thing can be a bit pompous. I am in a similar position, in that I run a Limited Company here in the UK and have done for the last 20-odd years. In reality, it is just my wife, on the business admin side of things and myself at the pointy end. I prefer it that way. I’ve had a few opportunities to grow it over the years but have always positively backed off, as I have seen what it has done to friends who did go down that route. You have to get a whole lot bigger before you make the same money and doing so comes with a whole lot more stress and financial headaches – unless, of course, you thrive on the game. For me, it’s always worked better to just plug in the skills I need for a particular project as and when I need. Anyway, I digress…

Technically, I am the company’s Managing Director, but it just sounds ridiculous when you say it, so I don’t bother. If someone asks me what I do, I simply say ‘designer’ and then elaborate if pushed with something along the lines of ‘I make books’, or ‘I’m a bit of a type-geek’, or ‘I draw pictures for a living and stick,them to the fridge with little magnets.’ Depending on how facetious I’m feeling that day.

Titles like Creative Director, Senior Designer, for me, have a place within a larger structure to define a role, but when you work in a small place, or on you’re own, they seem redundant if not a little bit silly. Also, people can seem to get very fluffed-up and all pompously social-climby about job titles.

Under sell and over deliver! Let the quality of your work define you, not a title.

Do you plan on flying solo or grow a team of either employees or contractors?

The sad reality is customers may not pay direct attention to your title, and will look past it and judge the company (which could win or lose you opportunities).

If you brand yourself as a 1 man shop, an individual brand, a solopreneur - don’t try to hide that with a title or you will look like a fool. Consider using terms like consultant or ??? Something that plays to YOUR experience or expertise.

If you brand yourself as a larger studio, or group of professionals (or have visions to be), then consider giving yourself a larger title to encompass that…that you are the head of your team(be it employees, contractors or ???). You will have to be prepared to “fake it until you make it” (Urgh - can’t believe I said that).

There are advantages and disadvantages to both of course from a business perspective- ESPECIALLY if you’re niching in health.

Don’t focus on the title, but on the brand you’re trying to create. That will help with your title.

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Like I said, around here, even one or two person studios use the term principal. It doesn’t necessarily denote more than one person in the studio, and honestly a lot of what one designer can potentially provide may require outsourcing to others.

But titles are a hangup that most clients don’t differentiate. I change mine on a whim. but I work in a much larger company and nobody cares (as long as it’s not untrue.)

I had employees once but work mostly alone for years now. I use three add-ons to my name. One is just a degree. One is on the legal side which depends on the company’s structure. In my case “owner”. And last but not least for what I do primarily “designer”. As I call my company an advertising agency I assume everybody knows I don’t design products.