I became a designer because of fashion magazines. I had always been artistic, and even told my 5th grade math teacher I didn't need math because I was going to be an artist. In high school I decided I wanted to be a graphic designer.
I thought it was like being an artist, only you could make money. Sometimes this is true, sometimes it's not. My advice, don't become a graphic designer if that's the only thing you love.
Fast forward 10 years from high school graduation, and 5 years into my career as a graphic designer. It's been rough, I'm not going to lie. I've worked in the media and in advertising and now I am back in media again, which I found out I prefer. So it turns out I really did know something in high school.
For someone who doesn't know a whole lot about what a graphic designer does, a designer is not an artist, though sometimes they can be. The biggest distinction, in my opinion, is that an artist is usually working from their imagination, emotions and observations. A designer, on the other hand, takes direction from their client and creates work to their specifications. A designer gets to put some of themselves into it, choosing images or colors, and sometimes the designer can even explain to the client why certain choices will serve them better. In the end, a designer must do what the client wants, even if the designer disagrees—that can be hard at times.
Design affects our lives every day. What I love about being a designer stems from being a communicator. Anyone can put words on a page, but a designer can make those words reach people who may not have noticed otherwise. A designer can give them MORE meaning, through fonts, colors, images and the like. It doesn't matter if it's a flier; a road sign; or a billboard; someone designed it, and hopefully designed it in a way that communicates its exact meaning.
One of the biggest things I like about being a designer is being part of a team. I work with writers, copy editors, photographers, illustrators, web developers, printers, the list goes on. It's a team effort to produce whatever the finished piece is. I like to bounce ideas off my co-workers, colleagues and peers. I like problem solving. I like when I am working on a layout and the puzzle pieces come together. I like creating solutions that solve problems for my clients. And as silly as it seems, sometimes I just like to make things look pretty.
Dana Hill was born in Missouri and raised in Norman, Oklahoma, by parents who exposed her to all kinds of creativity, including readings by Allen Ginsburg, jazz, and swap meets. While attending the University of Kansas, she sold makeup and was responsible for visual merchandising. Once, on the KU campus, a squirrel fell on her.
Dana received a BFA in Visual Communication from the University of Kansas, and has worked in publishing and advertising. She still loves going to concerts, traveling, and good food.
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