An interesting question came up when looking for things to write about, “why are graphic designers so arrogant?”
Wow, I was surprised at this oddly common question to come up when doing my research.
How to answer this is tricky, but I do have my theories based on experience and general attitudes I have come across. As a short answer, I believe that question has come about as a mixture of client perceptions and expectations, designers taking pride in what they (we) do.
The “yes sir” designer, the ones that take orders and maybe earlier on in the career. And the more experienced designer, offer advice and consultation when it’s not wanted or expected.
Some might call this unsolicited advice.
As a designer, you need to discern what is expected of you from either of these two main expectations.
Why Graphic Designers are so arrogant.
Good Graphic Designers, by and large, want to make a mark and a good impression. This could be why a passionate designer may also come across as being arrogant and being full of self-worth.
But, I actually think that the majority of the people asking this question are those that are not used to working with designers. Design, as such isn’t really a commodity that is easy to weigh and measure as you can sugar and grain.
At least, that is my main belief. And still, if asked will try to itemise my services for ease of my clients and new business.
What is listed above is my main view.
Is there more to this perception – egotistical design?
As a collective generalisation based Google Search, are Graphic Designers arrogant? Are we pompous? Or is it the case that companies and businesses think our job is easy and expect less from us? OR they are just uncertain as to the different types of designers out there?
Are you reader, the believer that all Graphic Designers or full of it?
Is it the iMacs? Or the glasses? The style – ah… style do you believe we put style over the substance? Perhaps some of us do. But good design shouldn’t be just about style.
Here are some other theories as to why graphic designers are seen to be arrogant and egotistical.
Your Types of Designer & Non-Designer
Graphic Design has become more commonplace and a much more accessible profession, with somebody that knows somebody who is a designer. There dog, a neighbour, a nephew, etc etc.
This is both a positive and negative influence on this creative industry.
With the over-saturation of Graphic Designers on the market or at least individuals claiming to be, this has lead to the reasons as to why graphic designers are being paid so little. There is an overabundance design supply to design demand.
You can easily find a Graphic Designer anywhere!
Whether they are good or experienced designers is another question. The point being is there are many – too many! Claiming to be Graphic Designers.
You can find some Graphic Designers who are very skilled and talented that didn’t study go to college but these individuals are much rarer. ( as a note, a degree or higher education isn’t a right of passage to good design! )
But, by and large – when recruiting for internships in the past I could tell the “designers” from people just trying their luck.
These people just trying their luck types contribute to over-subscription to an already busy industry.
Some “just trying their luck types designers” were hoping to get another job of any kind. If the ‘have-go-designer’ had a portfolio at all, it would have been a bonus.
When you put the ‘have go designer’ next to seasoned professional or graduate or someone that takes the profession seriously, you may get quite a contrast in personality, experience confidence, and skill.
This is 1 reason I can think of as to “why are graphic designers so arrogant”, or at least alleged to be.
Not all Graphic Designers are the same, your ” have-go-designer, your IT come/design professional, the print house designer, the consultant, the art director, the junior, the middleweight, the senior, director!
We are many!
List of thoughts, opinions and possible alternative answers as to why are graphic designers so arrogant.
Group 1 – neighbours cousin dog used Photoshop for a weekend
Anybody can wake up one morning and decide to call themselves a Graphic Designer.
If they can download a trial version of Photoshop or get their hands on a ‘special’ copy, they can decide they are Graphic Designers without proof or qualifications,
Unlike other industries, you do not need to prove you can design. Your life will not depend on it if you go with a rogue designer and your house is unlikely to fall down from a bad selection of typefaces.
Anyone can decide to call themselves a Designer, the bar of entry is low… and this can have an impact on the perception of the industry.
The neighbours cousins dog and your ‘have-a-go-designers” can parade that they can toss together a business card for £5.
There is no policing the ‘have a go designer’.
This in turn can have a negative impact on the designers that have studied and toiled and try to make design better day by day. These designers, the ones that take pride and love in what they do as opposed to your ‘have a go’ designers may be the ones that are sadly getting the bad wrap.
The designer, the casual non-designer designer that is just walking around with the title of the designer can be deemed an imposter by the professionals.
These types of have-a-go-designer may work at the printers, church, school, is a relative and friendly, and have self-depreciation – but you know! They have used photoshop for 2 days! So that makes that person a Designer.
It just means they know a bit about Photoshop., knowing Photoshop doesn’t make them Designer.
There is a difference between somebody just taking orders and doing it in Photoshop to a creative designer looking to come up with solutions.
Price difference between the pro, graduate and have a go designer
“You are charging how much for a business card?”– client, from the distant past…
Often, it’s not just a business card, you might need to spend hours drawing the artwork, sending proofs back and forward, and perhaps, on certain occasions – actually creating a brand at the same time. And in this instance, it was a lot more than just throwing a card together.
That £5 may reflect much more than you think.
- £5 is less than minimum wage in the UK, if somebody is offering a card design service how can they afford to create it and live? Is This a hobbyist? Template service etc, etc.
- If their rate is so cheap are they inexperienced?
- For £5 is this just a bolt-on service to their main work? Eg design isn’t really their thing. They just added it on to make an extra £5.
There is difference in what you (a client) may expect from a Designer.
– One being – “just chuck it together”
– The other being : ” help me out, I want my business to grow!”
I’m going to use the £5 designer as a scale and measuring stick. Or we can call the them the “£5-have-a-go” again if you prefer.
When you go with the said £5 designer, there is a chance that you are using a less experienced level of Graphic Designer too. Experienced designers tend to have had more practice in what they are doing and…
As they have got older ask for more – not less.
A 40 year designer with years of commercial experience and industry knowledge isn’t arrogant for asking for fair wage based upon their service and value to your business.
The chances are, the £5 designer may have aspirations to become that 40-year-old designer one day too. And then ask for a higher rate.
But what I am really trying to get to the bottom of here is this.
There is a VERY big difference between a designer of 2 minutes and the one 1000’s hours.
And I do not feel that an experienced designer with years of commercial experience should be deemed as arrogant.
If a marketing professional, a solicitor, or a nurse had plenty of experience and climbed up the career ladder would you judge them for asking for a fair wage that reflects their skills?
The big question to ask as to why you think Graphic Designers are so arrogant could be more that you may not see the value on their skill or perhaps … you don’t actually want the design work. OR maybe they are arrogant have much higher skills compared to thier actual skill…
You may be just going through the motions and hate all this design stuff and what it represents?
I have written below a list of other potential reasons why designers may be perceived as arrogant, based on opinion and experience, and paraphrased ‘things’ I have heard colleagues and clients say.
1 ) Why are graphic designers so arrogant… snobbery
Graphic Designers may be seen as arrogant due to what some may as regard as snobbish tastes. We scoff at Comic Sans, come out in blisters at the site of the laminating machine and make scoffing remarks on bad menu design when the majority of the world couldn’t care less.
But as Graphic Designers, we have been trained for what we do – or at least many of us have. We are charging for service that needs to go a bit beyond the norm. Comic sans, having its place on the rare occasion wouldn’t belong on a funeral parlour or an insurance brokers website.
The visual language needs to be correct for the subject matter. And when we wade in and say ‘no’ because comic sans does not reflect the brand of marketing message of the topic.
You may be baffled as to why. It’s not just about making things pretty and feeling that your personal tastes have been insulted.
Commercial design for business should never just be about your personal tastes… be it the designers or clients. It is about making the visuals work for the task at hand and suiting the target demographic.
Design as a service has a job and a role to fulfill.
Putting things in nice places, patterns, typefaces, branding, just part of it.
Stupid… arrogant designers! I’m going to laminate YOU!
2 ) Designers may be seen as ‘trendy’
Graphic design is often about trends, being modern, being cool, and being in-tune with the current market. It’s harder and more tiring than it sounds.
Trends in web and trends in design are 2 very different stances on the word “trend”.
“Trend” is a word that is used a lot, and as designers we need to try our best to stay on board with what that actually is, depending on the context in which it is said.
Not all design is about “trend”s. But it is often important to a brief. This also translates to activities, fashion cultural habits etc, any many designers being cool and new.
3 ) Perceived as cool (Pretentious designers)
Amazing what you come across when looking through forums and talking to the general public etc.
This may fit with the view of “why are graphic designers so arrogant.”
Whats is the definition of cool, according to the dictionary,
“cool is slang for the acceptance, a badge of approval from your peers, colleagues, and the general public.”
Being cool, or to say something is cool and is the mark of approval.
It is true, depending on the industry that designers want something to be more than just ‘meh’. They want their work to be seen as cool or the best that it can be and get for an all-important cool badge.
I can see why arrogance and cool can go together and can also then see the link to cool – arrogance and – graphic design. Generally young, modern, and cool – trendy.
Now that we have established why design is seen as “cool” (apparently)
Arrogance by definition means this.
“ having or showing an exaggerated opinion of one’s own importance, merit, ability, etc; conceited; overbearingly proud and arrogant teacher; an arrogant assumption.“
Maybe some us do put too much importance on the aesthetics of a menu, typeface, advert – maybe it makes us look a bit pretentious too. Or it could be designer that things they are too cool, and their skills aren’t inline with other peoples opinions.
(just so you know, I do not believe I am the best designer since sliced bread, sliced bread is impressive!)
I don’t know…
I have found on a few occasions based on the opinion that is a restaurant is ‘too showy’, it’s possibly not as tasty as some of the places that are a bit less stylish. If I go to a restaurant myself, I can forgive a bad typeface. I’m not paying for a good menu to look at. I want to eat what is on the menu.
4 ) You actually wish you could do the Graphic Design
I have actually come across this on a few occasions.
If the client has a creative eye combined with thinking they are stylish, I have found that his can be a subtle of not so subtle catalyst for them believing that they can do your job!
I know, it is a right of passage! Bought nice shoes – can do Graphic Design obviously.
If you think that design is easy or at least drawing on a computer is easy then you’d be mistaken. Doing is one thing (kudos for trying) and doing it well is another. And sometimes, I happy to admit that even designers might fall short on challenging brief.
Business owner! Or secret wannabe designer. The true annoyance can come when you are not really looking for designer…
As a client you are looking for someone to do your artwork for you. – You don’t want a thinker, you want a hand.
5 ) Designers can act like they know more about your business than you do
This is a bit of a poke at myself and the industry although I’m happy to take a step back and admit that I don’t know anything about property, law or many other industries.
I will assume it to be a case of the client knowing what sells.
In response to why are graphic designers may be deemed arrogant, I can’t help but wonder if you, as the designer feel, as if you know about the target demographic than your client does?
Steering your client towards making the best design decisions that are in their business interest is one thing. ‘Pretending’ that you know more about their business and their audience is another.
Fellow designers, if you are reading this. You probably do not know more about your client’s business than the client and if you do it is not your place to correct them. You may think you are right, you may think you are helping them, but the chances are this will backfire – and you should also value the opinion of your client here.
Even if it cramps your style!
Your duty is to offer Graphic Design as a service for the client unless they ask for business advice too.
6 ) Design Hipsters
A playful bit of fun. Chances are, people call me a bit of hipster when I’m not in the room. Or at least I have not heard them!
But down to the Design Hipster thing.
Those pesky design hipsters, they are everywhere.
Especially in East London, riding a penny-farthing without wearing socks – growing copious amounts of heavily groomed facial hair, eating in cereal cafes etc etc.
The hipster style (sorry way of life!) , is a trend. Remember how I mentioned trendy earlier?
There is perhaps a subtle youthful arrogance to hipsters. Trendy, unique, cool… creative etc. I’m cooler than next person and more creative because I have a beard etc.
The irony of the ‘unique’ hipster, is that there many hipsters… making them much less unique from one another. ( did you know you can do hipster quizzes?)
There are a lot of design industries in East London, and there a lot of hipsters in east London. Especially compared to the rest of the country. So it is no surprise to have designers that are hipsters. Design Hipsters.
Design hipsters may very well ‘deem themselves’ the lords and ladies of cool and all things trendy. They will never say it, they’ll just exude it.
We are young, cool and hip, wear lumberjack shirts, tattoos, beards, glasses with no lenses, we go to gimmicky places to eat, etc etc.
For you are a comic sans heathen! Hipsters are cool and there is a large chunk of the design industry that I may regard as cool and quite hipster.
But now… with design hipsters do you think that they are arrogant and cool because they are young and full of new ideas and you are the lords or beige and don’t like avocados?
Maybe! ( yeah… you’re jealous! ;-D )
7 ) Do people think Graphic Design is a “fluff” job!?
Over the years I have had various things said to me and behaviours that allude to some individuals that just don’t take design seriously for business. And you know, people are welcome to own their own opinions and I have come to accept it.
I will say my bit, but I will not try to burn myself out proving that design is both applicable and useful in business for many situations. I can think this, and say this with quiet confidence.
Clients will believe what they will believe. I have better things to do than converting their opinions.
But, still for those that think we are a waste of time. There is no changing some of their closed views. They will think of us arrogant for having some self-belief in our profession. They will most likely hold this view before they have even met us.
Some businesspeople outside of design believe what we do, to be unimportant – we just make things pretty. And if you are a designer, you and I both know that more often than not many fields such as website design, UI, product design, creative direction, etc.
There is much more to it.
Yes, the look of something is important with Graphic Design. But it isn’t the only part.
Just to quickly brainstorm a few key points with my profession:
Sell a product, make it look appealing to the target buyer user, branding, the user experience, is it easy to use, is it easy to read, does it make people feel a certain way, is it exciting, does it make you pick things up and want to buy it, does it illustrate, can it inform, does the design tie in with the bigger picture?
And then, how stylish is it.
Those are just a handful of thoughts and processes I use for projects. I do see the value in design for business and how it can actually help to make money, Not just from a design standpoint but from an entrepreneurial standpoint too.
Now, not every designer is the same, and perhaps some have inflated ego’s, and this how this question has come to be – why are graphics designers so arrogant.
But for some, you will never change the view and behaviour. Be it the ego of a designer or the contempt and ignorance of a client who lacks all respect for design. Just keep moving forward.
Why graphic design is important for business
Graphic Design can help sell a product service or be an integral part of a product itself.
I have written a post here covering STEM product design for example – a direct tie in with the value of Design and business.
Graphic Design is by no means, the be-all and end-all to a business or a product’s success. And I am more than happy to stand by this both being involved in the creative design process and as part of product development for retail.
Sorry all, but Graphic Design alone is not the golden egg for business success and neither is many of roles as a singular.
The success often comes from multiple channels and talents and elbow grease from many parties, with the Graphic Design being one, not the only.
Design is important for many businesses as it provides a vessel for selling service, pushing a brand, and showing the user what the product is all about.
Design is important… but not the only important thing for business.
*One thing I would like to mention, and though Graphic Design is important for many businesses, you don’t want to put the cart before the horse.
- Don’t use design negatively.
- Don’t use design to sell a half-baked or weak product idea.
If you are using design be it for a website, social media, or print, make sure you have a real product that, if you were to take all of the gloss and excitement away from it (eg packaging) it would still be a great product in years to come.
Why are graphic designers so arrogant | final answer to a perhaps daft question
To answer why are graphic designers so arrogant in one attempt is difficult, as this predominantly a question based around somebody’s opinion and each situation is unique.
Initially, I would have put this question in the camp of coming from angry clients who were letting off some steam by doing a search in Google, but then I started to wonder whether this is an industry-wide opinion – judging by the fact it came up in auto-suggest – maybe!
Think that most of this opinion comes from differing points of view and general misunderstanding. A client may have some undeclared expectations of what and how they want a designer to behave and the Designer, depending on the level they are, maybe miss-aligned with their clients’ or employers’ expectations.
An eager Graphic Designer may also be caught between the narrow gap of offering a service and offering their experience at the same time –
“Consult me… but do as you are told.”
in other words rock and a hard place. There isn’t an easy way through this apart from early communications and trying to gauge how your clients and co-workers all gel as a team.
In addition to all that has been said – to sadly reinforce an unwelcome and inconvenient stereotype, I have come across this thread that lists some design arrogance, predominately between UX and Graphic Designers or Reddit.
Which if you would like to see other opinions feel free to do so.
The following statements could also be potential factors for designers being perceived as having an ego.
– Many designers strive for perfect design, sometimes to the detriment of a deadline. Occasionally, ‘boshing’ it together is all that is needed for the brief when it is of lower value to the business objective. This may come off a strange stubbornness where ‘design’ takes total precedence and important above all else – thus the arrogance badge.
– Designers will more often than not try to treat their profession as an art. When more often than not it should be seen as they are offering a service to your / the business above all else. In other words, we can become very emotionally involved a good project.
– They can’t let it go. A proud and stubborn designer just can’t let a cool idea go and who could blame them! Designers should strive to make the next best thing for design! But this in turn can lead to a difference of opinion and project wrestling match.
– Some businesses/professions / individuals and fellow colleagues don’t ‘really’ believe in the value of design. They see you as the creator of fluff and as a low-skilled pretender. And when that lack of respect for you and the profession becomes evident, this can lead to a wrestling match again. Graphic Designers will probably defend their role and profession, perhaps in passive-aggressive ways – pomp, superiority, when a client makes them (us) feel of low worth. – insecure.
– Cool kids with glasses. As much as I find it a bit shallow, as a professional designer, I try to keep my fingers on the pulse with the latest looks in retail and business. In school, you’d been called a “trendy’ and this can also add to that images of being smug and egotistical.
– Push their design evangelism. If the designer is so passionate – so obsessed with the value of design, have read too much Steve jobs, they may be uncompromising in their vision and too new from college. They may be yet to learn when to compromise in areas of their design for the good of the business.
It a nutshell, there isn’t one easy and single answer to ‘arrogance’ in the field. As designers are people and people are different from each other. You will always come across pomp and superiority whether it is the business owner vs designer, designer vs developer and so on.
A question to consider is ‘why there isn’t more unity in trying to meet a common goal in business?’ Most of the reasons listed above cover this but wouldn’t it be ideal if we’re all truly on the same page.
There could be 100’s of other smaller reasons as to why you believe Graphic Designers are so arrogant or if you have been called an arrogant designer. It could be just a case of attitude, ignorance or even inexperience!
– “why graphic designers are so arrogant”
What do I feel about my Designers!?
Think us designers are alright if I don’t say so myself!
I only consider our arrogance and man-buns from time to time. In-between projects and perhaps brewing a tea! I’ve personally not come across too much of it with regards to arrogance. The only thing I might say is ‘Sales’ have regarded design as support (joking, I think) when the design was an integral part of the whole process. Otherwise, they would have been selling much less interesting products.
Us cool designers, flexing our design muscles, power curling avocados 😀
Thank you for reading! I hope this post has answered a few thoughts and queries with both humour and sincere attempt at answering a tricky question.
External links | Design attitudes and tutorials
- Creative Design Journey
- Creating a cardboard STEM product
- Website UI’s
- Packaging examples for retail
- How to draw on a computer
- How to make a story based game in Adobe Animate
- Tips for design portfolios
- Junior design tips for getting work
Thank you for reading – “why graphic designers are so arrogant”… honestly?