Design is not clicking a mouse

Artists are a creative lot. Often times, creativity calls for resourcefulness. This figure-it-out attitude is what allows us to grow as artists, to learn beyond the classroom, build upon our craft, and pick up any number of talents along the way.

Resourcefulness also comes from necessity. The vast majority of artists aren’t sleeping on piles of money, and so resourcefulness inspires thrift, getting the best deal, or doing things you’d normally pay others to do … yourself.

The danger lies in perception. What sounds wonderful to one, what looks great to another, varies from person to person. Art is subjective. And so, with art, you’ll never please all of the people all of the time.

That said … there are definite ways to showcase your talent in the best light. Namely, going to a professional.

Any voice over professional will tell a beginner, “Don’t just buy a microphone and try to record a demo on your own. You need a professionally recorded demo (and likely some professional training).” Obviously, “professional” is a fairly loose term, and is a point of discussion in of itself (But I’ll save that topic for a future post). Similarly, actors are advised not take their own headshots and to get their photos taken by a professional photographer. And so on.

Design is also an art. But the art of design is not necessarily valued at its surface. Instead, design serves a functional communicative purpose. In other words, it’s not just about looking pretty, it’s about effectively communicating a message.

Sure, you could design your business card or website yourself. Just like you could record your own demo, or take your own headshots, or build your own house. There’s plenty of tools and services out there that make designing materials fast, easy, and free! Just pray you’re not designing for a competitive market. Because what a novice designer is lacking is the experience of knowing how to pack the biggest punch to the right people.

Who would you hire and trust? A successful working professional voice talent with 10 years of experience under their belt, or a some one who’s dinked around with a microphone a couple of times? The same goes for design.

Just because you can talk doesn’t mean you offer professional grade voice overs. Just because you can memorize lines doesn’t mean you could out-act Alec Baldwin. And just because you’ve seen a hundred websites, and know the names of some fonts, doesn’t mean you’re ready to design materials that will go up against the best.

Of course, if you’re just looking for something to tie you over, or you’re not really concerned about presenting yourself in a professional light (say, it’s a personal site, or you’re simply a hobbyist, or just testing the waters), then I’d actually advise you NOT to pay for design services. Because at the infancy of any endeavour, your goals (and thus, your professional image) will naturally change.

Use the free design resources to get a taste of what elements best represent you (or, in some cases, what does NOT represent you). And once you’re ready to dive into a competitive market … you’ll be all the better prepared for a professional to step in, and take it to the next level. A professional level.