Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm not a designer, nor do I play one on TV.

I'm getting a little miffed about the apparent blurred lines between "writer" and "designer".

I think I've gone to great lengths to define my skills, that is, writing for a living. But it seems at first meet many potential clients and employers alike seem to equate being able to write with being able to design.

Granted, the full-time jobs I have applied for have been marketing-based, asking for things like:
* developing advertising opportunities, which can involve placing ads in national, regional and specialist publications or on the radio;
* maintaining and building contacts with the media;
* writing and distributing press releases;
* managing the production of marketing materials, including writing and proofreading copy and liaising with designers and printers;
* carrying out market research and customer surveys to assess demand, brand positioning and awareness;
* evaluating marketing campaigns;
* monitoring competitor activity;
* contributing to and developing long-term marketing plans and strategies;
* managing budgets.

Lately, I've found they've tacked on one job requirement at the very end: "design skills". Wait, what? I have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Marketing. Sure, I've messed around with making my own greeting cards, creating fliers for my kids' schools, or perhaps making some "creative" alterations of a picture or two in Photoshop, but design SKILLS?

Bear with me. I understand that times are tight and employers out there are looking for employees who can multitask. But I also know that good writers are good writers, and good designers are good designers.

I gained a new appreciation for this while working closely with a young designer who turned out to become a very good friend of mine. She went to school for design and is extremely talented at it. It's her THING. She and I had many discussions about having our strengths diminished by people who "think" they can do what we've trained for probably half our lives at least. Honestly, it would be like one of us stepping in to an operating room and asking for that "pointy thingy" so we can perform an appendectomy.

OK, well, maybe not so much like that.

I guess what I'm saying is, I don't do many things WELL. But I write WELL. Sure, I could take a couple of design classes (which I think is ultimately what is going to happen) so I can add that "skill" to my repertoire, but I feel as if I am depreciating the abilities and talents of those like my friend who have a passion for it and are truly proficient at it. I would never classify myself as a designer, unless you consider stick figures fine art.

So yes, I will probably break down and try to navigate the world of Photoshop, or InDesign or Dreamweaver. And I may learn how to throw together a website just to say I can do it. But in the back of my mind, I will have my designer friend over my shoulder saying, "I can't believe you're doing that. We TALKED about this."

Writing - it's my thing. Hopefully someday someone will let me do my thing.

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