Illustration by myself
The Junior Designer and his superpowers
written by Marcel Bachran and published on Mar 05, 2016. Estimated reading time: 4 min.
Nearly every designer talks about how hard it is to make the very first steps in the design scene, while standing at the base of the food chain. There are just so many articles here on Medium about this topic. But we shouldn’t forget about the outstanding potential, which unites all these fresh creatives.
Unfortunately there is a omnipresent cliche sticking in our heads when we think about designers starting their careers. Something like this: In general there is just the Junior Designer which means they all have some kind of the same background. They played with colours and shapes for three to four years and now all they want is to »work their asses off, every single second of every day«. Because they never really worked in the industry they basically have no clue about what is going on and how processes work. They have to prove that they’re worth the money they earn and their employees will make them feel that.
Maybe they own the basic skills and know how to create a logo in illustrator that’s looks okay. Unfortunately there is a lot to learn — like really! And don’t forget, their opinion is not what they got hired for, so they should better stick to their senior designer or art director. To make it short: A Junior Designer is an investment in time and money, but he usually gets the shit done that nobody wants to work on.
This is basically what is stuck in my head while I was thinking of all the articles that I have read about being a Junior Designer. I also know some fellow students who found themselves in exactly this situation, which makes me kind of sad. Because starting your career can be really fun. Or at least, it’s meant to be! You’re one of these fresh minds, which are motivated to change something. You shouldn’t work for pittance and get fired after your probation.
Usually you got hired because you have certain skills and the potential to grow. You just finished college, which means you experienced the newest methods and technologies. The industry changes quickly and so does education. You accumulated some important knowledge, that you can share with your colleagues. I read an interview with Eike König from Hort the other day and I think he really hit the spot.
»I work together with highly creative people, and I want to keep them as individual as possible. That means I am not trying to design clones of myself — I want to learn from them and they are adding something to the team I am not able to.« — Eike König, Hort
In my case, the understanding for app design was something that distinguished me from my older colleagues, because they had to deal with it on the run while I had a few years to really understand how it works. Of course I didn’t know all the best cases but playing around with basic principles changed my way of thinking and designing.
In my opinion the most important part about young designers is that they come with a different angle to look on things. They should design in a playful way that solves problems and raises questions. Usually you’ll have a bit more time than the more experienced designers or at least less projects, so you should use that extra time to try out different directions. Your designs should surprise, challenge and of course, work.
Junior Designers should be the source of creative friction.
The senior designers should be encouraged to question themselves, their workflows and their tools. With time comes the standstill. The daily life and routine threatens the creativity. Of course it’s up to every designer not to let that happen, but a Junior Designer can be a great inspiration to move on.
So your opinion on the things you’re designing is important for the team, because you have a different point of view. If you think there are good reasons for your design decisions, than you should fight for them. You’re a creative mind, don’t let yourself turn into someone who only converts the ideas of others. Although this might be tough sometimes, it’s definitely worth it and gives you the self-consciousness that you need to grow. Sometimes you just need the right tactical maneuver to convince, because also your colleagues have fears that you have to take them.
To put it in a nutshell: You are a designer who just started a career. That’s an important step for you and you will do great. Don’t let yourself be intimated by the experience of your colleagues, you have other superpowers! Keep your unbiased thinking high as long as you can, don’t stop observing what is buzzing in the scene and try to change something. Don’t be afraid of doing things differently. Agencies always need new ideas and they need a constant change! Try to inspire others and be critical with your own work. There is a bright future ahead of you with challenging and awesome projects.