Working as a designer is in many ways a dream job. After all, you get well paid (once you're established at least), for doing the kind of work you love most. How many other professions can boast that? (As Mark Twain put it, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you'll never have to work a day in your life.”)
But let's be honest: not absolutely every minute of every day in your work as a designer is perfect. Not that you're one to complain or anything. But there are a small number of tiny things that can, well, really cramp your otherwise joyous mood. Things like...
01. Demanding job ads
Whatever level you've reached as a designer, it's infuriating when a job ad asks for the moon, but promises little in return. Or as graphic designer Laura Hill (opens in new tab) puts it: "Companies who advertise a vacancy for a 'graphic designer', proceed to list the job roles of 8,383 other creatives – 'Must be experienced in SEO, motion graphics, photography, coding, 3D...' – then list the benefits of working there as a naff salary and onsite parking."
02. Design tests
Another pet peeve when it comes to job applications, especially for those with a few years under their belt, are design tests. "A portfolio is enough to show skill and talent," points out designer Charlie O'Halloran (opens in new tab). "You don't ask a builder to build you a wall before you hire him."
Web developer Leon Brown (opens in new tab) agrees, and is particularly scathing about “jobs that require a 'technical test' for the interview in the form of some custom example task. You do the work and they never get back to you. You suspect that those companies are looking for free labour from gullible freelancers.”
03. Indecisive clients
No one expects everyone to agree on everything first time. And so revisions are a necessary part of the job. But it can be somewhat maddening when, as digital designer Steve Brown (opens in new tab) notes, “... after 18 or so revisions and updates, the client goes back and chooses version one.”
04. Subjective tastes
While art is all about aesthetics and is purely subjective, design is about solving problems for the audience. So it can be infuriating when a client thinks it's their job to give feedback like: 'Can you make the button larger and fill up the space more?', notes designer Justin Cheung (opens in new tab). "Personal preference shouldn't override what works for the users," he points out.
05. Chasing payments
You don't go into a supermarket, fill your basket, and offer to pay in six months' time. So why do some clients get away with treating freelancers, and even design studios, so badly when it comes to settling accounts? Sheffield illustrator Sarah Abbott (opens in new tab) points to “spending my own money on materials and then having to chase up the invoice” as a common irritation that simply shouldn't happen.
- Also read: Tips for getting a reluctant client to pay
06. Reducing graphic design to software skills
Graphic design is a challenging discipline that requires mastering everything from complex theories to developing conceptual ideas. So it's exasperating when non-designers minimise your skillset to merely "knowing Photoshop".
"Some people think graphic design is knowing how to use a piece of software," says graphic designer Russell Daniels-Lake (opens in new tab). "It’s like thinking being a chef is knowing how to use a knife.”
This can manifest itself in a number of subtle ways, such as designer Dan Srokosz (opens in new tab)'s pet hate: “Starting a sentence with 'Can you just...'". Or, as Scottish art director Marc Diamond recalls hearing:
- "It just needs designing."
- "That would only take a few minutes, right?"
- "Make it look good, but don't spend too long!"
- "We only have a small budget for the actual design."
- "How much? My kid has Photoshop, I'll ask them.”
Creative director James Greenfield (opens in new tab)describes another common manifestation of the notion that design is simpler than it actually is. "My pet hate is getting 'brandsplained' to," he says. "This happens when a client tells you all about this brand they once worked for, saw, or read about; why it worked; and how we should 'think more like that'. This example is normally in a totally different area, and of no relevance to the project at hand.”
08. Arrogant seniors
For the sake of balance, we should add that not all designer bugbears are directed at clients. Indeed creative director Ross G Palmer (opens in new tab)'s biggest peeve is: “Criticising a client and their requests without looking at the issue from their point of view.”
In fact rather than clients, it's sometimes other designers who are the bane of your life. Graphic designer Alex Terry (opens in new tab) speaks for many in pointing to "the arrogance and unnecessary over-aggression of some seniors or creative directors". She argues that: "Talented juniors sometimes need time to 'ferment', and those of us in charge should remember fear is the opposite of the empowered. A playful mindset is needed for the best creativity."