There was an episode of the podcast, "Let's Make Mistakes", where they discussed the idea of being a designer, and what makes someone a designer. You can listen to it right here, if you're interested. The general opinion seems to be that the root of being a designer is solving problems. The vast majority of working designers are fluent in graphics programs, but being fluent in a graphics program doesn't make you a designer, in the same way that having a nice camera doesn't make you a photographer, and owning paints and brushes doesn't make you a painter. Even if you know how to use the camera and know how to use the paint and brushes, there's something more. There's some sort of gap between having the tools and having a knowledge of how to use the tools and actually being a designer. But that's not quite it, is it? Isn't there something more?
In list form, because it makes more sense:
1. Obtain tools.
2. Learn how to use tools.
3. Magical unknown step.
4. Be a designer.
Step three, of course, is the problem. Is it just practice that goes there? Is it learning to think about solving complex problems? Is it going to school? Is talent necessary?
Of course, because design is a creative pursuit, there are going to be people who say things like "I wish I had your talent." as though every designer was born with the skills they have and didn't do any work to gain them. I don't place much value in talent, but I believe in inclinations. If you're seven years old, and you are slightly better than average at drawing, and you really like to draw, then you're inclined towards that. You're likely to continue drawing, and you'll practice far more than peers who aren't inclined towards it, and by the time you're 14, you'll be much better at drawing than other kids your age. If you're disciplined and have someone pushing you, that adds to the practice. Then, hopefully, you can find a good art teacher, who will add to that skill, and a few years later, you're probably fantastic at drawing. People will say that you're so talented, because you found something that you latched on to and spent years honing your craft.
What about designers who haven't gone to school for design? If there are two designers who have the same abilities and portfolio, one of them having gone to school for design, and one not having gone to school for design, does it matter? Do you think of them differently?
I probably think of designers who haven't gone to school differently than I think of designers who've been educated in design. However, I feel really conflicted about that. I like writing. I like writing a lot, writing this blog and fiction too. I hope, one day, that people will pay me to write stuff. I'm not going to school for writing. What makes me wanting to write any different from people who haven't studied design wanting to be designers?
What do you think about all of this?