Is then, the ultimate goal for a designer, just to be a designer all over again?
Honestly, after all the career laddering, posturing, ego building, politicising and directing—what would we rather we doing every day (gun to your head, come on)? There’s something romantic in the idea of being a designer forever. It shouldn’t take somebody an entire career to figure that out, either.
When I really think about it… man, I do love designing. It is what I studied. It is what I teach. It is what I write about. And sure, I still get to do some design in my day-to-day. But a lot less than I used to since taking up various directorship positions these past five years or so.
I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one, too. Have I been happy in my Creative Director role for the last however many years? Absolutely. I manage, I make.
Both interest me in different ways.
But I believe making is what many of us are truly longing for, hand on heart. To be able to create, away from all the meetings and bureaucracy that gets in the way. Sure, there are those that truly relish the managerial aspect of a director role. There are others that make the transition from solely being a designer to being great managers of design and designers. They excel at it, and together with other talented creators, come up with great work. Good, the industry needs that.
But there has to be a way to make people want to be a designer all the way through their career, rather than chasing the director title for the sake of perceived progression. The goal has to be to pour the same meaning into the title of ‘designer’ that gives the same pride, respect and ambition that a directorship does.
It’s a task that’s bigger than just one company. But if these very, very good designers—who are makers rather than managers—are really allowed to keep on making, then we’re going to need to have a wider conversation across the entire industry, and switch up those conventions.
Even with the obvious monetary issues, we can figure this out. We’re all innovators, right?