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5 Challenges in the Graphic Design Industry (and How to Overcome Them)

Working as a graphic designer gives creatives the ability to use their imagination and originality as a career. It can be rewarding and impactful, all while allowing designers to do what they love in a versatile environment. That being said, the job isn’t always glamorous. If you’re considering a career in graphic design, it’s vital to know the challenges you will face in college and the industry as well as how to overcome them.

Creative Block and Burnout

Graphic designers have to flex their creative muscles daily, often for various clients across multiple projects. At some point, most designers will hit roadblocks where they struggle to find fresh ideas. Experiencing creative blocks and burnout doesn’t detract from design talent. This is a normal occurrence, especially for creatives working on numerous projects simultaneously.

If or when you find yourself drawing blanks, the best thing you can do is step away from your work. Take some time to decompress by going for a walk, listening to music, or experimenting with another creative outlet. Give yourself space to find that change of scenery or activity. Think about the things that are inspiring to you and allow yourself the freedom to encounter them without putting pressure on yourself to force concepts.

Criticism and Rejection

Whether you end up working as a graphic designer in-house, for an agency, or as a freelancer, you will inevitably face criticism from clients and colleagues. This could come from fellow creatives or non-creatives alike. It can be hard not to take tough comments to heart. After all, designers often pull from their personal style and imagination to bring a project to life. The key is to find a middle ground between meeting expectations and creating a vision that speaks to your design strengths.

At the beginning of an assignment, try to establish clear guidelines and boundaries through professional yet honest communication. If any details remain ambiguous, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. However, it’s always a good idea to expect the unexpected, as clients and their needs could very well shift after initial standards are set. While it can be frustrating, this part of being a graphic designer comes with the territory.

Creating Around Deadlines

Designing a project on a deadline is no small task. Graphic designers not only have to create in a short timeframe, they usually have to do so while working on other various jobs and tasks. Creative energy and output also have to be considered. It can be a lot to juggle. Being able to organize and switch gears is crucial when it comes to holding up your end of the bargain.

Before you even get started, draft a project timeline. Outline when drafts are due, when you need feedback returned, when the final project must be submitted, and other time stamps to keep track of. Throughout the course of the design process, make sure to prioritize tasks according to the client brief. What elements are most important to the desired end result? Make sure you dedicate your time to those specifics so you don’t get distracted by other features.

Balancing Design and Function

Graphic design is all about balancing the elements of design, the artist’s creative vision, and the client or employer’s needs. Designing too much for aesthetics through intricate visuals or unconventional layouts can take away from aspects of functionality like usability and readability. Personal preferences may also factor in, from both the artist and the client.

Overcoming these challenges ultimately requires graphic designers to have a clear understanding of desired objectives and the willingness to compromise. Throughout the course of the project, it’s also important to keep the target audience at the forefront of every creative and functionality decision. At the end of the day, the results need to be indicative of the end users’ and viewers’ experience.

Keeping up with Technology

Between new software and advances in artificial intelligence (AI), the design industry is always evolving. These changes mean that graphic designers have to be ready to stay up-to-date or risk losing their relevance. Being willing to learn and put in the time and effort it takes to develop new graphic design skills is a must.

Graphic designers should always be on the lookout for new tools and techniques. Set aside time to identify these trends and follow up on them with active learning approaches. Anything from following a design blog to networking with other like-minded creatives or taking online tutorials can give you the edge to stay competitive in an ever-changing industry.

Join WNY’s Esteemed Graphic Arts Program

Graphic design students excel at Villa Maria College. With the direction and encouragement of our staff, our students go on to win acclaimed industry awards, including ADDYs, portfolio reviews, and scholarships. If you are passionate about graphic design, you’ll find your people and a place to let your creativity shine at Villa. Reach out today to learn more about our graphic design program!