I wish I’d known that

David Airey asks: What advice would you give a design graduate? Chris Arnold, founder of Creative Orchestra and former creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, offers his pearls of wisdom.

My favorite out of the ten:

Think of yourself as a brand. You need to be remembered. What will they remember you for? What defines you? If you have it in you, do something that defines you. Invent something, develop a unique skill, get noticed for something — it creates a talking point.

I wish I’d known that

2 Comments leave a comment below

  1. And considering how much time and effort it takes to brand and promote ones self I find it pretty unsettling a lot of agencies seem more and more inclined to start creatives off with a test drive anyway. “We’ll see how it goes” kinda thing. Its a turn off personally.

  2. below are two more of Chris Arnold’s 10 pearls of wisdom for recent design school graduates. i have a huge problem with two of them:

    Work hard. Really hard. You’ve been in cotton wool land for three years doing no real work with no real pressure by our standards. This is the real world. You need to work harder, faster, and all-hours. And never use Facebook at work. Friends, socialising, all comes second.

    really? second? i don’t think so. i went to design school so that i could get a job i liked and had passion for, so that i could enrich my life and the lives of the people whom i love. my friends are the people who will comfort me when life invariably gets prickly, not my portfolio, publications, boss, co-workers, or clients. i have no problem working hard, working fast, working long hours if needed. but as a base-line condition, i refuse to sell my love for other people to work, even if it is in design. period.

    Forget money. If you land a job, great. Most will spend months, maybe years doing unpaid or poorly-paid placements. It’s not the money but the work that really matters. Get a job in a bar or pizza joint. You’ll need it.

    ok, so not only are the people i love supposed to come second, but i am supposed to bargain this all way for a job that can’t pay my bills, or doesn’t pay me anything in exchange for work? and, i am supposed to work in a bar or “pizza joint”? it is precisely this kind of self-loathing, transformed into condescension toward new designers, that forces all of the allied design professions into being subservient service providers, poorly compensated by clients. if those at the top of the profession encourage an ethos of accepting low-paid design jobs, supposedly compensated by glamour, prestige and whatever else is intangible, negligible, and free, it erodes the base of the profession. new designers should be compensated adequately, not at rates that force a second job on top of a 40, 50, 60 hour work week. designing isn’t compensation in and of itself. it isn’t artistic practice, it is a practice that has clients, contracts and provides services. designers aren’t free like artists, they are doing work within the confines of an economic exchange, straddling elements of artistic practice and business. designers need to think more strategically about the business side of things. it has been too long that we’ve come of age as designers in just the kind of environment that chris arnold suggests, where from an early point in our careers we’ve become acclimated FROM WITHIN THE PROFESSION ITSELF, told by other designers, that working for free or cheap is acceptable. it isn’t. when we begin to treat each other like the work we do has a high value, we will find that clients will begin to treat us this way too.

Leave a Comment