You Own a MacBook Pro? You Must Be a Designer…

You have to have a license to drive. You have to have a license to run a business (well, you should). People have to be certified to drive forklifts, cut hair, and even paint nails…but anyone can buy a MacBook Pro, change a font color, learn how to draw a square, and voila: instant “designer.” Never mind the years spent learning art: art history, color theory training, 2D design, etc.

Experience? Ha! Who needs it when you’ve got YouTube tutorials? Please…

So here’s my beef: this downsizing-to-save-money bit has become quite commonplace in the corporate world. The mindset of “pink slips for some equals new titles and more work for others” has become the accepted norm. Each worker’s burden gets heavier, and the quality of the output suffers. On the agency side, we feel the effects as well. We lose work–hard-earned and long-sought-after work that professional, respected designers are actually trained and qualified to do–when clients decide to “consolidate.” Mind you, “consolidating” refers to, “well, we have an employee who’s dabbled in design…and we think if create a support team…and invest in a MacBook Pro or two, (after watching some YouTube design tutorials) we will have an internal department that should be able to take on this responsibility. And think of the money we can save!”

If it’s not obvious, I can honestly say I am not impressed with this ignorant mindset. The lack of respect for design as a true profession is both shameful and concerning. From a business perspective, this approach is ultimately a death sentence for the corporate client, as the lack of intelligent innovation through design will take its toll on the company’s ability to compete and profit. It certainly doesn’t help the agency pay its bills, either, as this scenario also creates a struggle for the professional design agencies to survive and hold onto their talent.

As a business owner, I value–and greatly respect–the fundamentals of running a lean practice; but there is a point at which “cutting the fat” becomes cutting into the meat. Before long there’s no substance left, which is something that even the best designers can’t simply photoshop into place–let alone some accountant and his new Macbook Pro.

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