Peer Pressure: If I knew then…

Published:  June 8, 2010
Peer Pressure: If I knew then…

We want YOUR opinion for the Peer Pressure section of our August careers/education issue.

We’ve all heard the saying: ‘If I knew then what I know now’  and at some point we have all wallowed in the benefit of hindsight, but this month we ask:

What do you wish you had been taught in school about the creative/ advertising industry that you know now?

Simply answer below in the comments field or email us, and a selection of the answers will be published in print.

Image Copyright Linda’s Kitchen.

21 Responses

  1. Tanya Ruxton

    Sooo much!

    I would have love to have learnt about clients. but i learnt about them on the job the hard way.

    I also would have loved to have known more about the day to day running of a studio. My uni had its own “real life” design studio but it wasn’t 100% like the real thing.

    I now lecture in Design and find myself saying that there is so much you learn in the first year of your job that it’s almost impossible to teach it all prior to getting out there.

  2. Linda Suttie

    I’m a freelance copywriter who has loved writing from a very early age, however, at secondary school I had absolutely no idea that there were careers in writing other than journalism and becoming an author. I wasn’t sure that I was cut out for journalism as I believed it was all facts, facts, facts and therefore not overly creative and even at a young age I knew that cutting it as a successful author is tough going and I wasn’t prepared to live on nothing while trying to write that elusive best seller – so I went the “safe” route and did a secretarial course. I came across “copywriting” quite by accident in my late 30′s after a career as a PA, getting married and having children. I wish that back in high school we had been taught about “media” as the wide ranging vehicle that it is – if I’d known about advertising, copywriting and marketing I would have definitely been more interested in pursuing my writing, knowing there were options and choices in that area.

  3. Fran Derham

    I wish that someone taught Creatives to not be bitter. There should be a ‘Say no to bitterness’ class at uni. They should warn you about old bitter creatives, and give you skills on how to avoid becoming bitter yourself.. ie.

    1) No one actually hates your idea it’s because the client doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    2) The reason that old creative doesn’t like you, and is trying to shoot you down is because he’s jealous that he isn’t young, enthusiastic and wrinkle free anymore. Just smile at him in pity. Do not take offense.

    3) Water off a ducks back: This should be a poster that every creative gets on their graduation: instead of a diploma with a crest. It should be sexy, well designed and sit pretty, framed, on your wall – because that’s more important that your degree.

    4) Always present a safe option. Write 2 crackers, and one boring one. It will save you a lot of pain and bitterness. No one ever taught me that at Uni. All the teachers said was go for creative gold.

    There’s more tips than just these. Bitterness is poison. Maybe that’s what the subject can be called.

  4. Nicholas Turner

    Things that should be taught are:

    The customer may not pick the best design and may pick the worst.

    Undercharging hurts not only you but the industry as a whole. As it drives down what everyone expects to be charged for design services, meaning your potential salary is going to end up being lower.

    Client negotiation skills would be good too!
    Knowing how to spot bad clients and how to deal with them.

  5. Tracy Bell

    Persuasive techniques in how to get a client to sign-off on artwork!


  6. P

    Colour management! Still so few people in the industry have a good understanding of it. And without it, jobs just go round in circles with clients, freelancers, printers and creatives all looking at something different.

  7. DW

    I just wish I had’ve known that I wanted a job in this industry earlier – I would have chosen better subjects, more relevant…

    I guess I wish that they (the careers people/teachers/edu. institutes) had’ve made creativity, advertising and design an option for a career – it wasn’t ever mentioned where I was from. I’m from central Queensland and it really just wasnt mentioned, all I heard was -get into journalism if you want any media job….Another thing I guess was that I was also ( still am!!) quite naive…?

  8. It would have been very helpful if the taught us how to start a freelance or graphic design business of our own. More about getting clients, terms and conditions, picking the right clients and how to charge the right rate. I completed my Graphic Design Diploma 13 years ago and would have found the above information very helpful.

  9. Catherine Harvey

    I wish I had been taught that when applying for a design position to ask questions, plenty of them! Questions relating to the studio’s interest in design, whether they subscribe to magazines, their work processes, turnover of designers etc. I would have saved myself from months of boredom and unhappiness in studio’s that didn’t reflect my passion for design.

  10. Brian

    I wouldve liked to have learnt some more business type practices. Also a bit of a marketing overview. Wish I had paid more attention to the multimedia side of things like animated design.

  11. How to tell a client they are wrong without alienating them or annoying them (still working on that one).

    And I completely disagree with Fran Derham’s point 4. NEVER present the safe boring option in the first round – it will always get chosen. Save it as a backup for when you can’t convince the client to choose one of your beautiful, slaved over designs. In fact, best to only present one design, otherwise the client will nearly always insist on an amalgam of two designs ending up with a watered down compromise.

  12. Chris Nardo

    Yeahdesign hit the nail on the head!
    Always provide one amazingly great design – and if the client isn’t happy with it, you can bet they will love the borIng safe one…

  13. I wish I’d been taught about the financial side – costing, quoting and budgeting, and understanding how to get the best out of your available resources.

    It’s crucial. It’s not only the most important part of managing projects, but it’s also necessary for more junior creatives and resources to understand this process, so they can estimate and plan their work accurately.

    Liz Van Dort

  14. I wish I learnt more business skills and how to tell clients that creative people don’t think the same way that they do. I find myself battling to get the client to see the potential in the amazing design I have just done for them and all they can see is the dollars it is costing them. I wish I knew better how to explain that good design doesn’t just happen. There is a process and ideas pattern which is what they are paying me to do.
    More business skills would have been greatly appreciated. I think that is lacking as an entirety in the design industry.
    After running my own design business for 4 years I am still learning the hard way. You get the occasional fantastic client who understands the value, but majority have too many pre-conceived ideas.

  15. Angela

    - Is not about what you like, its about what the client likes.
    - Never present a design option which you don’t love as the client will pick that one.

  16. Lex

    I wish that I had know that the advertising and design was actually a career option. At school I excelled at Media Communication and Design, Art and Literature but was encouraged to follow the path of business and economics as ‘creative’ was only for performing arts students.

    I wish that there was more of a presence during the final years of high school that promoted the advertising and design industry as a viable option for a career rather than a fun group of subjects to pass the time before getting serious about Political studies.

  17. Young designers need to understand that you never stop learning. I’ve been designing professionally for over 10 years and I’m still amazed by what I’m learning each day.

    I’ve seen many fresh graduates approach client feedback with an elitist, “I’m the designer so I know best” attitude, thinking their design was by far the best thing ever created. Understanding how to design for the client is the biggest learning curve of any new designer and it can take many years to perfect.

    As you become more experienced, you learn how to interprete what the client is actually asking for, as well as the right questions to ask. Experience brings the ability to put your personal design opinions aside to focus on what the client actually wants.

  18. Lee

    I wish i had been taught about the role design plays in people’s everyday lives. From their morning newspaper ads, to cereal box, to ipod, even the t-shirt they are wearing, everything has been thought about and considered in a very particular way, often by a creative team.

    Growing up in Northern England, we never really understood the whole advertising or design industry. To me it was something of an enigma, a place where only the brave dare tread, and the creative odd balls looked up to those people in their black outfits and statement glasses. I never saw that area as something I could seriously consider as a future career. But to me there was something oddly curious about it. So when at the age of 14 I was sat in front of my careers advisor and he asked that defining question “what career would you like to do when you grow up” my answer was instant “I want to be Rolf Harris”. Now although at the time this may have seemed crazy, or very cool (depending how you think about old Rolf), it wasn’t too far from the truth of where I’ve ended up today.

    Most kids would never imagine you having the words ‘senior’ or ‘director’ in your job title if all you did all day was draw pictures and have great ideas. But here Iam, based in Australia, working as part of an FMCG design team, essentially getting paid to draw for a living.

    I did become Rolf after all!

  19. chatter

    Pre-press and post production would of been excellent to learn at uni. But they seem to glance over it these days, colour management, correct set-up and how to proof a print…. this was an invaluable lesson in my first job as a junior.

    I would also love to know how to brush off people who look down on you as a creative and think “just another arty farty, probably wont ever earn a decent wage” or “so what is graphic design, what do you actually do?” I want a oneliner, something that will tell people “actually I work damn hard and get paid well, and graphic design is all around you – see!”

  20. Design actually means to work out, to plan, to make artistically with an intent or purpose. Making order out of chaos was rule number one. What I loved about a creative design course was the problem solving capacity required with every project and in my opinion, this was beneficial to every situation in life. Someone said “there’s not a problem in the world that cannot be resolved when we apply sustained thinking.” Then along came computers.

    In the past 15 – 20 years the accent through most of the training institutions has been more associated with learning software and in many instances employers demanded these technical skills above creative skills which created a plethora of general practitioners who love to call themselves ‘designers’. In this instantaneous society we have lost the capacity to train people who have the creative skills but not necessarily the technical side as we needed people who could make a dollar from day one so we could remain competitive. But there has been a cost.

    It is impossible for any course to teach everything to everybody so it would be good to see some training institutions get the hand off the foreskin, use some foresight and actually plan a course that allows people to have the confidence that they can actually learn new skills throughout life. This way we may actually avoid having to say, with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had learnt more about….

  21. Fab

    Wow. There’s so much to learn and it’s constantly changing. Design courses would take 10 years to finish if we put it all in there. And then what you learned in year one will be outdated by year ten, if not sooner… I think it should be kept simple. I believe things like client management and quoting can only be learned on the job and you’ll make a lot of mistakes before you get it right. Every sinlge client we have is different and requires a different approach.

    So, keep it simple.

    (1) Spend time developing and improving your own creative style and learning how to use the creative software. At the end of the day, what your work looks like is the most important thing.
    (2) Learn standard industry practises and file preparation.This will stop your printer getting frustrated with you.
    (3) Learn how to present a portfolio and conduct yourself properly at an interview. It’s amazing how many times graduates ask for a job without sending a simple PDF portfolio. I’ll skip the interview “no no’s” because that will take waaay to long.

    The design industry is constantly changing. You need to LOVE what you do. If you dont love it enough to learn more in your spare time, or design for personal pleasure, then you’re going to struggle.

    Everything else will fall into place on the job.

    Fab ;)

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