Dear Graphic and Web Designers, Please Understand that There Are Greater Opportunities Available to You

By Egotist / /

You have an inherent need to solve problems, visually and conceptually. There is enormous value in this, but you may be misplacing your talents.

The internet, at this time in history, is the greatest client assignment of all time. The Western world is porting itself over to the web in mind and deed and is looking to make itself comfortable and productive. It’s every person in the world, connected to every other person in the world, and no one fully understands how to make best use of this new reality because no one has seen anything like it before. The internet wants to hire you to build stuff for it because its trying to figure out what it can do. It’s offering you a blank check and asking you to come up with something fascinating and useful that it can embrace en masse, to the benefit of everyone.

Your press checks are bullshit
Your personal logo is bullshit
Your employer is bullshit
Your studio is bullshit

The market is handing you steak and you’re choosing the gristle. The market is handing you gold bullion and you’re taking the nickel.

As a designer, you enjoy building things for other people’s use. Your value is determined by the degree to which you can empathize with groups of people around a given topic. Historically, this relationship has required a large(r) company to act as mediator for the emotional mass-transaction. Companies provide you with an audience inasmuch as they have customers, and that’s enough for you because you just want to design stuff that solves stuff.

The internet kills all middlemen.

You now have direct access to the raw vein of popular attention. The pixels you’re pushing have a higher exchange rate than you’re giving yourself credit for*. No hounding client payroll, no selling other people’s stuff, no building other people’s wealth, no nephew’s cousins stepping in with the authority to change everything you’ve been working on.

If You Build It, They Will Come and Try It; and if you are keen enough to identify the opportunities that are being laid out before you by technology, then there is challenge and fulfillment and success to be had.

I run I am its Designer. I used to design logos and now I design for the internet. Svpply is building a service which will redefine major components of the retail industry. Our team is figuring out how to do this together because no one has ever done anything like it before. No class of people has ever been offered an opportunity like the one you and I are being offered right now.

If this kind of opportunity sounds even slightly interesting to you, then you should join a startup. You don’t have to know more than that. The jobs are all out there waiting for you. They’re secure and fun and they pay competitively. If the thought of building something amazing for lots of people is interesting to you, You Should Join a Startup**.

You can find jobs at startups here, here, here and here. You should also just start sending your work to startups that you like. All of them are hiring or thinking about hiring.

If you have questions about this, feel free to hit me up. Additionally, I know someone specifically looking to fund good designers with good ideas, so let me know if you’d like an introduction.

– – –

*The ability to design effectively for so many people at the stroke of a key is a skill and talent which will have its own title and pay grade. There are only going to be more and more small companies launching for the web. Many of them will need consultation on how to create and communicate with massive audiences and communities. As a designer this is all in your domain.

**I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t start your own company. I just think that for a lot of designers, from what I’ve seen, this is jumping the gun. Unless you have a friend who is an engineer, it is going to be difficult for you to find someone of quality to build something for you, the professional landscape for those people is just too competitive right now for much of that. But I guarantee you’ll develop relationships with engineers if you go work at a startup, and from working relationships good conversations brew and companies are born.

– – –

This piece is cross-posted from Ben Pieratt’s blog.


  1. Alex July 14, 2011

    Great article. Have a friend
    Great article. Have a friend that I graduated with whose a designer and just sold his start up to Google.
    Now I just need to follow suit?