Don’t change (too much) just because it’s digital

tashaaboutGraphic designer, James Victore, once wrote in a CMYK magazine article, “There are so many things in this wonderful world that Google does not know. Go find them.”

The digital world has obviously had a significant impact on graphic designers today. Sometimes to be considered a valuable and diverse contributor in the market, we designers have to basically be visual superheroes. We have to be flexible self-taught warriors who multi-task.

When I went to college (UMKC, Go, Roos!) to pursue my dream of becoming a visual goddess, I screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-11-15-33-pmdidn’t learn Adobe After Effects, Premier Pro or Adobe Fuse. I started off on the classics, Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark. I wanted to create magical funky billboards and eye-popping brand packaging. I was never really into creating anything 3D (unless it was some sort of sculpture) and I never wanted to get into cinematic visual effects, but I did eventually dip into animation out of curiosity. I still love the “dying” art of print (print is still very alive, by the way), kind of like how some people still love to read an actual book, made out of paper and ink.

A lot of designers who have been in the industry for well over a decade have taught themselves the new visual effects and motion graphics programs. They have even spent countless hours learning how to hard-code websites (maybe hoping to avoid working with unsociable computer programmers). Perhaps some of them do it for the love of learning and expanding their array of visual goodness or maybe they want to make their bosses happy and keep their jobs.

Either way, deep down, I think we all got into this industry because: A.) Art school is fun and B.) screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-11-17-03-pmWe seem to be naturally good at problem solving and inspiring folks through imaginative communication.

After working as a graphic designer in the newspaper industry for over 12 years, it was shoved down my throat that people don’t want to hold a paper in their hands any longer. People don’t want to wait until the day after to read about a Chipotle drone that delivered a test burrito. I was told daily that folks want to read the news digitally.

We all have an electronic leash that makes our lives easier and faster paced, but there are still things we can’t do on our phones. That bottle of mustard on the shelf needs a label to let you know what brand it is. That store needs a sign on their door to let you know whether or not to “push” or “pull.” And if you don’t check your spam email how could you miss that postcard delivered through snail mail letting you know that Target was offering free Starbucks coffee?

My advice for all graphic designers is to never lose that fire. Always remember, there are no rules and never be afraid to design off the grid. That risky idea that created a breathtaking logo is why you chose this career. If your boss starts telling you to make templates, go find another way to pay your cell phone bill. Print and digital design should be a marriage. Make that animated website ad as sparkly as you would that print ad. Your talent, if you’re good, will translate in both digital and print design.

Change is inevitable, I get it, and we have to adapt to survive. I keep telling my mom that screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-11-17-55-pmsomeday the grocery store is going to stop accepting her checks. She tells me when that happens she’ll just use cash. If people start scanning a label-less bottle of mustard on their phones to find out what brand it is, I think I’ll pursue my second dream/goal sooner than later of becoming a bartender in Key West.

—Tasha Fabela-Jonas

About me: Tasha has been a graphic designer in Kansas City, MO for over 12 years. Her teacher, Paul Tosh, is why she loves to break design rules. She has recently resigned from the cubicle life and works as a freelancer from home. Tasha is also a dog walker and has a mermaid soul. She still lives in KCMO with her husband, Luke and son, Bo. Eventually Tasha will move to the Florida Keys and begin a salty life filled with lots of fresh fish.

Website: tashafabela-jonas.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tasha.fabelajonas?fref=ts

Instagram: www.instagram.com/taszka

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