I remember when I first got hired at Panorama Productions, there were 200 applicants on the 6 Graphic Designers opening job. The Vice President told me that they’ve only hired 6 out of 200 applicants and I was one of them!
At the time, this is when Genigraphics were the hottest multi-media computer for slides and animations. Apple Computer was just beginning to shine. Each Genigraphic computer costs $150,000. And that’s how much an average house cost in the bay area at the time.
They said there were only 8 companies who used Genigraphics worldwide and we were one of them. So at the time I felt pretty lucky that I was one of the chosen ones. What a great opportunity! I believe four of the six of us have the bachelor’s degree. One majored in Commercial Art. The other majored in Illustration. Another majored in Computer Science. And the last one I can remember I believe majored in Fine Art.
So there were 6 of us getting trained to use Genigraphics!
The company believed that if we were trained in computer we would be one great Artist as well. The one who majored in Computer Science wasn’t an Artist at all and yet he could create great animations and illustrations. The other who majored in Illustration caught up pretty well on programming on computer and did very well in creating illustrations and animations as well; in fact he was considered the FIRST and BEST artist in the company. And according to the Creative Director, she told me that I was considered the second best. Well, that was nice to hear. Knowing that I am nothing to compete with the bachelors degree holders, I only have my AA degree in Commercial Art and I thought I was going to continue to San Jose State University to get my bachelor’s degree but…there’s always a BUT…something happens!
Out of 6 new designers they hired there were only 3 of us who could do well on the computer. The Illustrator, the Computer Science major, and me the Commercial Artist. The one who majored Fine Art and another gal who majored Commercial Art didn’t really do well in graphic computer illustrations. One of the guys who worked with us was a Computer Programmer and a husband of the Creative Director, he did very well in graphic illustrations as well. Although he didn’t have the background in Arts, he did absolutely fantastic. And the ones who didn’t have a background in computer programming did very well too.
I think it really depends on the person. How motivated they are to learn. And how fast they want to learn. Now I think it’s harder to be a graphic designer today because majority of the companies wants someone who could code or program as well as design.
In Linkedin someone asked in the Graphic Designer & Art Director community this:
“Are Graphic Designers Required to Code?”
I believe there are 70 comments on there so far and this particular comment caught my eye right away because his reaction is very different from the rest of the commenters. I was very intrigue on what he said about the Designers of yesterday vs. today.
“Just to say I’ve never met anyone (and I designed my first site in 1996) who can truly design and then code to top professional level. One or two may have been quite good at both but for heaven’s sake – they are two completely different skills! And code is too general… As a designer, I want to be able to choose the most appropriate methodology for the design/requirement/client. So I speak to any number of professional developers, choose who’s going to be the most appropriate partner for the project and together we work towards a common aim–giving the client what they need. And want. Of course. As a designer, a knowledge of what is and what is not possible is pretty much prerequisite. But I don’t code. It’s not my thing. Like I said, I’m a designer. Oh, and while we’re at it – I don’t really want to know too much about the intricacies of SEO/SMO; I’ll have someone brief me if it’s necessary and take account; but, no–life’s too short. I shouldn’t be the photographer on a shoot, or a film editor or for that matter a print minder. We give each other feedback, maybe swap some ideas but you’re not going to find me actually dialing up the magenta or selecting the F-stop. I’ll take responsibility for my work, you for yours but where we can, let’s help each other.”
“I like Alex for saying that!”
I suck on coding and I’m definitely not a programmer but a Graphic Designer. I don’t know much about SEO either. I began to feel insecure and inefficient when I read so much Designers online who called themselves Designers who code and I feel like I’ve been left behind. I know a few basic of coding & HTML but definitely do not want to be a coder or programmer. I studied graphic designs and I’m a user of such computer. The technology of today shouldn’t dictate my destiny. But remain a true designer & artist at heart. Thank you for making me see my worth and place in this field.
With the most script used in the world, designers of today can do WordPress content management system without knowing HTML and CSS. Sometimes if you want to customize something like the footer for instance, all of WordPress themes says “Powered by WordPress.” If you want WordPress hidden there away from the hackers and get it whitelisted, just delete that code in the function.php and you should be fine.
Today, Designers have a lot of themes to choose from. The basic programming and coding of such template is already completed and all you have to do is replace the text and the photos! No need of programming. Someone has done that job already. And so be it.
OMG…imagine all these codes Designers have to learn! I’m not sure this is all I want to learn about designs. These variables and numbers are boring to me.
“There are Artist who specialize in oil only. Some in acrylic.”
In an Art Department, working on a project is like forming a team of creative people. In the previous company I’ve worked for there was only one programmer. And the rest of us are in the Creative Team working on animations and illustrations. Other great strengths are illustrations and oil painting on a canvas. Some of us specialized on just the graphic designs. By the way, this artwork below is one of the illustration I created in Genigraphics during the time I was learning it.
I know this might not look very much but I was pretty proud of it since I got to use the computer to do it. But before I even do this on the computer, I had a sketch on an antiquated pen and paper pad. I have to visualize my image before I could even put this on digital. I think it’s always good for a designer to practice on thumbnails and sketches. It’s like you’re climbing the stairs. You can’t jump on stairs number #20. You have to start on step #1. Same approach in graphic design.
“But it’s very hard to master all of them. You’re like the Jack of all Trades and Master of None!”
Remember what I said on Psychology in Business post, you have to specialize in something because nobody knows everything. People way back then predicted that when Apple Computer becomes more adapted to do the cad, sketch on tablet, using the Creative Suite applications, they said that this would eliminate designers! I hope we don’t get trashed just like that. So are we really outdated? Is what we learned in school really antiquated? I sure hope not so.
I still think that a Graphic Designer of today needs to learn the basic rules in designs.
But you know our newspapers have gone down 80% on their sales. Our telephone directory shrinked down also and got thinner. The Homes & Land FREE real estate magazine no longer exist. Maybe they still are but I don’t see ’em anymore. Most of the time whenever we go out to eat in a restaurant I always see their magazines. Not anymore.
I think everyone has gone digital.
I can see the benefit of an excellent coder or programmer but not all are creative. That’s what CREATIVE team is all about. We all need each other. The hands cannot do the feet’s job. The teeth are for chewing and the stomach is for processing the food. The photographer needs to know how to operate his camera, manipulate his F-stop and shutter speed. The commercial artist needs to sketch his visual images and know exactly how to manipulate such designs that represents the client’s identity. While the programmer needs to execute the codes on such designs.
Fourteen years ago, I’ve designed a magazine online and I’ve used Dreamweaver. I had to train myself on HTML. It’s not that hard but it’s not my forte. I’d rather design on my old fashion paper pad and let someone else execute the idea.
Anyway…back to Graphic Designer & Art Director community in Linkedin…
“Coder and designer, like oil and water, are unlikely combination. They require a different mindset and it is rare to find someone who can do both well. I would be skeptical of anyone who claimed to be both. What you probably get is a coder who *thinks* they can design.
Fortunately designers do not need to be coders. Web technologies have evolved enough to make coding a less important skill. Karen mentioned WordPress. That’s a great way to get the job done while avoiding coding. WordPress has 100s (maybe 1000s) of plugins that add functions without programming.
On the web, design is expressed using CSS. CSS is not very different from the style sheets designers use in page layout software. The main difference is that CSS gets written out in text (and there are programs that can do this for you). CSS is not hard to learn. It is not programmig. You just write out what stuff looks like. Yes, you can take it to extremes to make it complicated, but you don’t have to.
If you combine CSS and WordPress you will probably be able to tell any potential client “Yes I can do that.” So don’t let web work stress you.”
Designing = fun…I enjoy creating something that is visually appealing that conveys a message.
Coding = blah…way too tedious and the technology changes so rapidly, it takes too much effort to stay current.
The best designers I know couldn’t code their way out of a paper bag and the best coders I know have absolutely NO concept of visual communication. Unfortunately, in a downed economy companies have to cut back and employees are asked to do more with less. I also think – at least my experience has been – the most companies have no idea what they want or say they need to accomplish the goal. Sad…
I went into this business because I’m a right-brained, creative person (I’ll stop short of saying I’m an artist)….but if the world ever does away with the need for creative print layout and design (which I don’t think it will), I will hang it up and dig ditches for a living – at least I can day dream about flowing content while I shovel.”
So what do you think?
The debate can go on forever. In my opinion, I don’t think Graphic Designers required to code. But it helps if they have enough knowledge of HTML and CSS. Since majority of the companies nowadays are looking for someone who can design and code at the same time…sure to save more and stretch their dollar. And so therefore, they want someone who can do ALL things. What are your thoughts about this matter? Please share your opinion regarding this subject.