The Calculated Creative

What is the Hardest Part of Being a Graphic Designer?

Juggling subjective criticism, finding inspiration, changing trends, and constant deadlines are the hardest parts of being a graphic designer.

Graphic design is an exciting and stimulating creative field.

It allows you to problem-solve visually, use both analytical and artistic skills, and see your work disseminated to the public.

But being a graphic designer also comes with unique stresses and challenges.

While these difficulties can't be entirely avoided, understanding and preparing for them can help you pursue graphic design in a positive way.

Here are some of the hardest parts of being a graphic designer:

Dealing with subjective feedback

As a graphic designer, much of your work is subjective and a matter of personal taste. Clients may provide feedback that seems contradictory, vague, or not aligned with your creative vision. For example, they may ask you to "make it pop more" or "add more flair." This type of subjective criticism can be difficult to translate into concrete design changes. It can also feel at odds with your sense of aesthetics.

Additionally, clients may request changes that you feel compromise the integrity or purpose of the design. For instance, they may want to cram in more text or use colors that clash. While the client has final say, it can be disheartening when your work gets altered in ways you don't agree with and can't stand behind.

Learning not to take negative feedback personally and finding constructive ways to address subjective criticism is an ongoing challenge. Maintaining an open mind, communicating effectively, making compromises when possible, and remembering that the work is ultimately for the client can help you stay positive while also doing your best to create designs you are proud of.

Fighting creative blocks

All creative professionals deal with creative blocks from time to time. As a graphic designer, you are expected to consistently generate new designs, layouts, and visual solutions. Some days, the ideas just won't come, no matter how hard you brainstorm or stare at a blank page. Pushing through these creative blocks to meet deadlines can be incredibly frustrating.

Creative blocks often stem from burnout or exhaustion. The daily pressures graphic designers face can drain your creative wells over time. Finding ways to step away, get proper rest, and pursue non-work creative activities can help overcome these blocks. Some designers also find seeking new sources of visual inspiration through art, nature, or cultural experiences can help reignite their creative spark.

Ultimately, giving your mind space rather than forcing it is key to overcoming creative ruts. Having patience, taking breaks and setting deadlines that allow for fluctuations in your creative flow can help you manage the challenges of creative blocks.

Graphic design is a field that evolves rapidly. Trends come and go in the blink of an eye. Styles like vintage design, flat design, and maximalism can gain and fade in popularity. Designers constantly have to be aware of emerging techniques, styles and cultural trends to ensure their work looks current rather than dated.

It's also crucial to keep up with updates to software like Adobe Creative Suite products. As tools add new capabilities, designers have to be nimble in incorporating them into their workflows. Adapting to new software functionality aids efficiency but also involves a learning curve.

While you don't need to incorporate every hot new trend into your designs, keeping up with stylistic shifts and being conversant in both emerging and classic techniques is important. It allows you to provide clients solutions tailored to contemporary visual culture. But constantly staying on the pulse of changing styles and tools takes ongoing effort and can be mentally taxing.

Managing heavy workloads and tight deadlines

Graphic designers frequently juggle multiple projects with tight turnarounds. Heavy workloads can lead to long hours and weekend work. For freelancers, managing communication with multiple clients adds to administrative burdens on top of design work.

Meeting deadlines while maintaining your creative process and standards under these pressures can be draining. Some designers even take on more work than they can handle out of fear of declining jobs. Finding ways to work efficiently, limit overtime, create reasonable schedules, and say no to clients when needed is essential, but very difficult in a competitive industry.

For most graphic designers, there is always more work to be done. Unplugging, taking breaks, dividing large projects into milestones, and setting boundaries around your availability can make workload and time demands more sustainable. But finding a healthy work-life balance often remains elusive.

The Takeaway

Being a successful graphic designer requires passion, persistence, and creativity in the face of many challenges.

Juggling subjective criticism, finding inspiration, changing trends, and constant deadlines takes its toll.

Self-care, setting boundaries, and honing processes to maintain efficiency and inspiration will lead to a fulfilling and sustainable graphic design career.

Make Your Work
Suck Less

Pulling back the curtain on the creative process to help make your work a little less terrible. A 3-minute read delivered each week on Monday morning.

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