Unrealistic podcasts

I listen to lots of design podcasts. Many are great, but they tend to stress the positive aspects of graphic design while downplaying and glossing over the negative.

For example, I regularly download a podcast about logo design. A listener starting in graphic design might conclude from the show that becoming a logo designer is a lucrative career path in its own right instead of a niche skill in a larger field. Neither the host nor guests ever say the chance of becoming a professional basketball player is probably better than becoming a highly successful logo design specialist.

I listen to endless interviews on other podcasts from successful designers who like to brag about their success and how they achieved it. These interviews are sometimes entertaining, but they ignore the more common scenario of those who worked their butts off, did everything right, and still ended up selling shoes at a department store.

Graphic design is a challenging and oversaturated field full of wannabe designers. Design schools are graduating far more designers than there are design jobs. Pay is typically poor. Age discrimination is rampant. Competition from crowdsourcing amateurs is gutting the bottom and middle-tier of the field. No licensing standards exist. Do-it-yourself sites, such as Canva, are on the rise. Clients and employers routinely believe designers are just artsy types eager to bring client visions to life. People think we have fun jobs, but in reality, the work is stressful, and the respect isn’t there.

I probably wouldn’t want to listen to a podcast full of complaints, gripes, and ongoing negativity, but I would like to hear a better-balanced and more realistic portrayal of the pros and cons of this field. Instead, almost all I hear from these podcasts is constant happy talk that reinforces the notion that (with a bit of work and learning some software tricks) everyone can be a designer in this fun and exciting field.


I never partook in podcasts. Your description seems to suggest it is like YouTube, but without the pictures.

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Yeh I’ll start a podcast on dinosaur resurrection based on Jurassic park movies.

Everyone listen to this “scientist”.

I’ve seen a fairly popular instagrammer who has a design course and school. Shes doing pretty well for herself and it looks like she has had a lot of clients. If you want a website designed or brand identity the minimum is 7k and she’s pretty firm on it. If she has had 100+ clients since 2018, (I find that number a bit stretched as to who constitutes a client (is it her design course students)) that’s a lot better than I.

Not a podcaster, I don’t listen to podcasts. The field is really hard to sustain yourself in at times, I don;t like being seen as an order taker or a ends to a clients means. 90% of the work I do is mindless day to day. Also, the amount of software designers can be expected to know…

Software I use weekly:

Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, XD, PremierePro, After Effects, Dimensions, Blender3D, AbletonLive10, Hubspot, Marketo, Mailchimp, WordPress, Webflow, Outlook and the basics of the 365 suite.

I hadn’t considered the similarities between YouTube channels and podcasts, but they exist.

However, podcasts are usually created by those articulate enough to carry on an intelligent hour-long conversation with an equally well-spoken guest. This level of thought is typically absent in many YouTube design videos I’ve watched.

With podcasts, I’m referring to those created by successful design professionals who interview other successful professional designers. I usually listen to them on long drives and while walking our dog. Although the people on these shows provide their views on various problems we all face, the nasty problems I mentioned in my previous post are glossed over, when mentioned at all. Everything is given a happy spin with seemingly simple solutions.

I’ve always suspected this is because the podcasters don’t want to bum out their listeners by delving into the profession’s dirty laundry. I also suspect their guests don’t want to dive too deeply into issues they haven’t figured out themselves. Instead, they want to project the image that they have everything under control.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t successful designers raking in cash from great clients. I’m saying they’re increasingly few and far between, which runs contrary to the impression one might get from the shows.

More graphic design students!
(the world still needs ditch diggers…)

Followers = Dollars, and they get more of both by romanticizing the industry.

I suspect some of them are podcasters playing the part of a designer, and they probably don’t do that much design work.

I’ve subscribed to a number of podcasts in the past, including some design podcasts, but I have a difficult time keeping up with podcasts. It’s tough for me to listen to a podcast at work because I feel my attention becomes divided. Since I work from home, I don’t have a commute and don’t drive much. So I really don’t have much time in the day that makes listening to podcasts.

From my past experience with them, it does seem like they tend to avoid the reality and negatives in the field.

For someone who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, I couldn’t agree with you more.

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B, any design podcasts you would recommend? I listen to them all the time.

If anyone is looking my top 2 are Dollop and Wine and Crime. The Dollop is an American history podcast that will make you scream, cry and laugh your ass off. Wine & Crime is true crime with a definite feminist leaning and you will ALSO laugh your ass off. Both are left leaning, just FYI.
And Jim Harold’s Campfire if you like true ghost stories, it’s pretty intense. But I love Jim, he’s sucha supernatural nerd.
Best thing about these are they aren’t serials so you can pick and choose.

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If you like true crime, check out The Root of Evil. A quick story to put this one in context. Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous American architect, had a son that was also an architect. A doctor named George Hodel was maybe the second or third owner of a home designed by Wright, Junior. Hodel is a suspect in the 1947 Black Dahlia murder. There are numerous other allegations against the guy. If a fraction of them are true, he was not a good human being. The Root of Evil is about the doctor, the impact of his actions on his family, and the tie-in with the house and the Black Dahlia murder. There is also a tie-in to fine art. I am a bit of an architectural buff, so I discovered this podcast through the history of the house. As I said above, I don’t have much time for listening to podcasts, but I made time for this. Some of the subjects are a bit sensitive, so it might not be for everyone.

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I think I might be a bit of a luddite … I have never listened to a Podcast.


I shouldn’t say never I guess. I think I listened to something posted on here once … but that’s about it :wink:

Not sure I’ve listened to one either. I guess it depends on how you define podcast.
I’m pretty sure I’ve watched some podcasts as they were being made (a group of artists I follow on Patreon do a live feed of themselves as they are doing the recording.) But that’s different. I think.

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I usually spend an average of maybe, 90 minutes each day walking the dog, tending the garden, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, hiking, biking, and that sort of thing. I also commute every week or two between city and country, about a two-hour drive each way.

In other words, I have lots of time to listen to podcasts. After criticizing design podcasts here, I’d prefer not to mention them. I also listen to many science, current affairs, and foreign policy podcasts in addition to holdovers from programs I once heard on the radio (mostly NPR programs).

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The designer I follow on instagram just announced her podcast on the struggles of being a graphic designer and the first thing I thought about was this thread.