10 Harsh Truths About Being A Designer

As a fresh graduate that has just stepped into the industry for a few months, I have seen many designers starting to get disillusioned by the real world.

Yup, the real world is harsh alright. Thats why I am putting together this list for designer students, future designers or design-students-to-be.

Want to be a designer or going to be a designer? Well if you’re serious to be one, then read on and know the harsh truths about being a designer. This may change your mind to be a designer, if it doesn’t, then time to start nailing these facts into your head before you get to the real thing!

frustrated 600x450 - Blog


Cross The Deadline And You’ll Be Dead

There’s a reason why is it called a deadline. It’s an industry standard. Hell it’s a world standard. If you don’t get your job done by the deadline, well, you’re pretty much dead. Or pretty much f**ked up.

Designers Are Not Artists

Every designer out there will tell you this. We designers do not create for the sake of expressing ourselves, we create things for others. We provide a service to solve communication problems, to aid communication, to help improve people’s lives. If you want to do things for your ego or you do things for yourself because you love to, then you should be an artist.

Design Is A Problem Solving Service

Design is not just art. Design is a service. Yes, your clients come to you to you with a problem involving design, and you need to solve it. Design includes everything from researching, communicating with your client, finding out and solving their problems, designing things to solve their problem, teaching your clients about everything you’ve designed and even follow up if they have any more questions to bug you. Yes, design is a chore.

Design Is Creative Thinking

Design needs lots of brain, and lots and lots of thinking. You need to think, to find research, to find a solution, to come up with a concept, to design, to execute, to finalize, to launch, to follow up. If someone tells you that designers just sit at a corner and keeps on drawing and make beautiful things, that’s a lie, obviously.

Designers Make Beautiful AND Functional Things

As much as we hope to do so, as much as it is our dream, as much as it is our passion and love, we designers don’t make beautiful things. Designers make beautiful AND functional things.

A design is a failure if it’s not functional. This idea has been brought down for hundred years and more since the Bauhaus movement. Form follows function, that’s the golden rule. If you make something very cool and neat and nobody knows how to use it, then why make it at all? If it’s not designed to make people’s life easier, then it’s not a good design.

Break The Rules After You Learnt The Rules

Of course, we all have this dream of breaking the rules, after all, rules are meant to be broken they say. However before you break the rules, you need to know what the rules are, what rules are you breaking, and you better have a hell good of a reason of why are you breaking it. Pleading “I want to go against the rules!” doesn’t work. Solid rationale does.

So yes, function can follow form. You just have to good a give reason why you’re doing so.

Design Is Universal

No matter what kind of design are you doing, from graphic to fashion to interior to product, all designers face the same problems and hold on to the same principles. Thus designers often cross fields and do things, some interior designers do logos, some graphic designers make t-shirts, some architects make chairs. Art, design, beauty and functionality is universal.

Designers Learn Everything

Designers have to know production techniques from printing, multimedia and various technology from various fields. Then designers have to learn dozens of softwares and hardwares and brush up their skills in all their design specialization. But to be a good designer, he has to know all the design theory and rules, AND psychology, economics, politics, sociology, linguistics, culture, aesthetics and many other fields to understand and utilize them to create a good design that suits every context and audience.

Yes, designers have to learn everything. So many things to learn, so little time.

Design Is An Underrated Profession

Lets face it, with all the hard work we have behind and in our heads, people don’t appreciate good design as much as we hope them to be. Only designers will appreciate good design, thus the number of designer showcase websites on the net, and the visitors are mostly designers. Other people doesn’t seem to care.

Clients will always think that design is an easy job. They will always want you to work to your maximum and more for something that is “so easy” and he doesn’t understand why it takes you so long to do it. Deal with it.

Last but not least…

Designers Never Stop

The world is constantly evolving. The designer’s job is to create things to make people’s life better, so they must evolve with the world in order to know what the world needs and give them what they want. Designers never stop learning, never stop thinking, never stop observing, never stop improving.

Yes, designers have to observe the world with eyes that sees more than everyone else. A designer have to spot good design and observe why is it a good design, why does it work, its aesthetic values and how does it effect its audience. And you have to spot a bad design as well and ask the exact opposite. Then you will avoid all the bad design rules and make good design.


If this article scares you, well, don’t become a designer.

If you want to take up the challenge, come on brotha/sista, welcome to the beautiful world of design! If you have the passion, I’m sure you will love the job. After all, design is one of the most fun and dynamic professions in the world!

If you’re a designer yourself, do you have any other thoughts that you would like to add on to the list?