24 May 2011 - The generation gap: strength or weakness? A graduates perspective.

Tags:  People, Opinion

24 May 2011 - The generation gap: strength or weakness? A graduates perspective.

Following on from the recent blog article 'The generation gap: strength or weakness?' I wanted to give my take on it, as a young graphic designer.

There is no doubt about it, the transition between education and the design industry is difficult. Young graphic designers have a constant internal battle of combining their own personal values that they developed at university with the realities of the business world. Being able to reframe these values once in the industry, without losing something along the way is a skill in itself.

Often creative directors will employ young, freshly graduated, award winning designers only to find that when they are given a real life brief that they fall at the first hurdle. In desperation to impress the new boss one of two things happens: Either the junior will completely hold back on any creative thinking for fear of pushing it too far and revealing his inexperience, or will shoot off in so many directions that come the presentation he only confuses his superior. 

In my two years since graduating I have made the above mistakes and many more. But it was those same creative directors that allowed me to make and learn from those mistakes, whilst still working with me to get the work out of the door. They are the people that that have been instrumental to my development as a designer.

The bottom line is that “experience” is just that. I don’t imagine there is a single successful graphic designer out there who wasn’t at one point an ambitious junior trying their best to mask the fact that they are completely out of their depth.

Any studio that is worth working for will understand that everyone has to start somewhere, and must therefore be prepared to invest time in nurturing the potential of a young designer. Part of this is taking the risk of letting them fully engage with projects; they need to know that their opinion is valued and only then will a studio be able to use them to their full potential. Anything less than this will lead to them becoming diluted - undermining the reason they were hired in the first place. 

In my opinion it is vital to bridge the gap between the two levels of experience. Quite often senior figures are less exposed to such things as social media and how it may benefit the studio’s development and/or their clients. On the flip side of this, young designers can bring this knowledge (and a fresh, unfiltered perspective) to the table but without an understanding of how design works as a business there is a limit to how far they can go. 

A collaborative, nurturing environment where the youngest member of the team is valued and whose opinion is seen as being of equal importance will create a healthy working relationship. This will subsequently produce the best results for the client.


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