"Should I Be a Designer?"

To paraphrase, the reader asked if his passion and his interest in design was enough for him to choose it as his career. His main concern was that he might not be talented or skilled enough to do it, but that he’s so passionate about the field that maybe there was a way for him to compensate and be successful as a designer.

What I really found interesting about his question was the word "enough."

Is passion and interest enough to choose designing as a career?

Now, this wasn’t a question I wanted to answer. I felt that it was too big of a responsibility and I didn’t want to be the person that may sway his decision one way or the other. Such a big life-changing choice should come from within the person that has to make it.

I did find his concerns to be very relevant and poignant because, on the one hand, there’s a lot of talk in the creative industries about passion, artistry, creativity and talent.

On the other hand, many people often overlook the fact that this is also a business with well-defined goals and a purpose.

Therefore, we’re faced with that ever-looming question of "is it enough?" Is it enough to be passionate?

Another way of looking at it is that we all have different views as to what is enough to keep doing what we do. Some look at the creative industry and all they want to do is make money, which is very pragmatic and definitely possible. Others become creative professionals because they love ideas and creativity and they want to do it for the sake of their passion, regardless of financial incentives (or lack thereof).

In our team discussions here at Design Instruct, we’ve come to the conclusion that the reality with being a creative professional is that you have to approach your creative endeavors with passion in order to do good work.

But you must also know that, at the end of the day, designing or working in the creative field is still real work with its own demands and expectations.

I think the answer to whether one should pursue a career as a creative professional lies in one’s ability to think realistically about what it actually means to work as a creative professional.

We know that there are extremely talented individuals in the creative industry. There is no shortage of good ideas. We also know that passion and hard work play a big role in the success of many people.

However, we also know being paid to design and be creative is still real work with real bottom lines and real consequences.

At its core, the creative industry is about providing solutions. Creativity is the skill you possess. Passion is what pushes you to work harder, go the extra mile and innovate.

I feel that most creative professionals have gone through this same dilemma. On the one hand, we love being creative and it’s inspiring to see good work. The prospect of getting paid to do what you love is very enticing.

But, there is also that nagging doubt as to whether you’re good enough to deliver on the demands of the job; whether you can do it full time as a career.

So is passion enough? Does passion directly influence our ability to do the jobs required of us? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  • Passion is a huge drive for creativity, it’s what fuels you to improve every final detail and only release a piece of design when you are completely happy with it. If you can maintain your passion for design and apply it to all projects then you will undoubtedly have everything you need to be a great designer and deliver.

    I don’t think that you can necessarily learn everything it takes to be a designer from scratch, there’s a definite natural talent involved that can’t really be taught. That said, there are a lot of jobs in the design industry that don’t involve having to understand every single aspect, it’s more about understanding the possibilities and knowing when to break conventions to create impact. I’d certainly encourage EVERYONE to learn as much as they can about design because you might just discover you have a natural talent for it.

    Keep your passion ;D!

  • i am not sure too, and i am asking the same question for a while now….but i think it is both ….if u have passion but nothing to prove that u r talented and u can do stuff creatively no one will give u something to work on so we will never feed ur passion or ur mouth ….but i also believe that passion and hard work and being ready to give ur time and effort is important

  • Anthony

    This is a tough one. Sometimes our desires and wants don’t always match what the reality is for our lives at any given time. I would always support someone who wants to follow their passions, heart etc. But, there also has to be an understanding of the calculated risks that you take when you spend a lot of time, money, energy on a particular creative endeavor. If you spend most of your late teens and twenties pursuing a design career or business, once that time passes, that is it, it is gone…you don’t get that time back. If you don’t achieve the level of working in the industry as a legitimate profession, you have to start moving quick to find a replacement for that part of your life (which is a giant part).

    I was involved with music for years, DJing professionally, performing, studio work etc. But, it takes a lot to sustain that over a span of 15+ years. There is a lifestyle you have to adhere to most of the time, and at some point you get to a place where you don’t want to sacrifice for that art anymore, at least not to those extremes. It is hard, but that is how it is sometimes…life has a funny way of renegotiating when you aren’t necessarily ready to. I have only recently got into web design/development over the last 2 years, I am doing part-time locally, I have a day job for an IT management company. I enjoy design a lot, but I also understand that love and passion for something does not always equate to a full fledged “profession” that pays all your bills and then some. Well, that is my take, best wishes all.

  • Freak

    I think it’s a very easy answer to be honest, I can understand why it may seem to be such a dilemma but realistically it’s not as much of a predicament as it first seems.

    If you want to be a designer because you are passionate about the industry and about working creatively to make a piece of work that both you and a client instantly fall in love with, then that’s your ideal choice.
    Although you may not be good at it at first, if you’re passionate enough about it then you work on your skills until they are good enough. As you progress through life in any sort of industry there’s always an ongoing learning curve and if you choose to, you can learn more and more through your work and looking at the work of others.

    Anyway, before I start babbling on for ages about my opinion I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

    If you are passionate about anything, you need to work to attain it, and through that passion you will be more willing to learn all you can, than someone for instance who may not be so passionate. So passion and creativity aren’t enough to be a designer straight away, but they are enough to push you to learn all you need to become a designer.

  • I do believe that passion is important in anything you want to do… but you also need a lot of technical skills, business sense, and common sense in order to succeed in any field. What I would tell this person, is to try it. You really have nothing to lose. If you can get a job working for someone else, and learn the ropes, you will soon after see whether or not you’ll be able to “hang”. Of course, that’s easier said than done. A four year degree program isn’t just a hop skip and a jump away, and that’s pretty much your only opportunity for entrance as a graphic designer on a corporate level, if you want to work for someone else. I’ve always been very goal oriented. Make a plan. Have a plan. Be ready to change the plan, if need be. If you’re flexible, and you really love what you do, it will work out for you in the end.

  • This is a very thought provoking question, and there are some very good answers already. Taking all of this into consideration, I can only share my own perspective and ideas on the matter. I feel that if you are passionate about something, then it is a great start and you should certainly pursue your interests, but passion alone may not be enough. That is not to say that it’s not an integral part of the equation, but there has to be something else there too.

    I went to school with a lot of people who simply wanted a degree, or a job that would pay their bills, and some of them figured Graphic Design would be an “easy” way to do that. I on the other hand, completely disagree with that because I could tell when those people would present their projects and talk their ideas through, that they just didn’t really care about it. They lacked passion, which is definitely an essential ingredient in success. Without it, the work often lacks meaning. This holds true with anything, almost any job out there requires someone who has a passion for what they are doing.

    I feel that you need to have that passion, but also talent, creativity, and the strong desire to communicate your message to the world. Art can be incredibly powerful and persuasive, and with that comes a good deal of responsibility that is on the shoulders of the creative minds sitting behind their computers or drawing pads. For me, it’s the greatest job in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I get to do what I love every day, and even when I’m not getting paid for it, I still feel fulfillment and gratification. In the end, you have to do what feels right.

  • Justina

    I believe that passion alone is not enough – there has to be some “talent”/”natural strength” involved. My opinion is probably colored by my own limited experience (aren’t all our opinions somewhat influenced that way?)

    You may absolutely love design, but just not be able to grasp what makes a great design “great” nor know how to apply it in your own work.

    Like one of those movies about a kid who really wants to become a basketball/baseball/boxing champion but “just doesn’t have what it takes”. Those movies tell a story of “with hard work, you can get anywhere” and while I’m not diminishing the importance of hard work, often times I wonder: Why are we striving to turn our weakness into strength instead of focusing on our strengths? Like that kid could be extremely talented in something else, just not sport.

    Granted in any profession, it can be very subjective and it’s also all too easy to give up right at the beginning and say “I can’t do this, I don’t have what it takes”.

    But in a way, you can be the most hardworking, passionate individual in the world, you study other people’s designs all day,but then without some form of “talent” or “natural ability” or “creativity”, there is only so far you can go.

    TLDR, my rather pessimistic PoV is:
    Passion+Hard Work + Talent = Great
    Passion+Hard Work – Talent = Decent

  • i guess its more of tech head junkie mixed with passion… 😉

  • I am sure that you should be a designer.Because you are passionate about the industry and about working creatively to make a piece of work that both you and a client instantly fall in love with, then that’s your ideal choice.

  • Passion is a start, then followed by talent and topped up by skills (which can be learned). There are so many factors to consider, e.g. determination, aptitude, desire, attitude and ambition. Then you have the office setting which require a certain amount of social skills and patience :). At the end of the day I believe we need to do what we love (that ist where our passion comes from) and the rest will follow.

  • I believe that people, in general, are more multi-talented than they believe. For example, none of the greatest musicians were JUST that talented. They dedicated themselves from an early age to spending a TON of time perfecting the craft. I believe that if the vast majority of people practiced just as much from a young age, they would almost all be about as technically proficient as the greats. There may be a spark of true genius that will never come through, but they could still be great.

    Likewise, if you are passionate about something, I believe you can make it work with enough practice and effort. Even with only modest amounts of creativity, I think a designer could make it work as a career as long as they practiced a lot and put everything into it. They may never produce something out of this world creative, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be great for 99% of jobs.

  • Shaun Marconi

    “Creativity is the skill you possess. Passion is what pushes you to work harder, go the extra mile and innovate.” I totally agree with this statement. Your passion will dictate your actions. You will refine your design skills based upon the amount of effort you put into it (practicing, researching design ideas and techniques and deepening your understanding of design).

  • Wade

    Passion and Interest are the keys that start the engine of a design career, I can say with some security. It is what lies thereafter that is the true determiner. Do you have enough endurance to keep on a job? Are you going to be overzealous to your design, should the client want to alter or “kill parts of the baby”? Questions like this are the minutiae that build the big picture. As someone who has been in the design industry for about 2 years now, that’s what I can tell you thus far.

  • Excellent article, from my point of view that creativity is only the process which you have to prove that how much creative person you are by mind and by heart also. Creative persons are always getting touchy to get the inspiration from their daily routine in their life. Your article proves really good aspects to prove what you are.

  • Edna paderes

    Im not educated about designing woman dresses designing but im truly passionate about this I can say I have skills to draw and think something different on all my designs is it enough to be a designer?