Which One Are You?
Designers get stereotyped a lot. We’re mostly saddled with the ‘hipster’ label, though few of us actually are. The only real characteristic that fits all designers is that we like to create. We’re not all necessarily the best at it, but certainly most of us enjoy to create in any way we can. There are so many types of designers you’ll work with in your career as a designer, some of which I like to call: The Newbie, The Procrastinator, The Illustrator, The Lone Talent, The Mentor, The Generalist, and The Hipster.
1. The Newbie
Unless you’re the most junior designer at an agency, this title will go to whoever is the newest to graphic design. The Newbie has a ton of potential but still needs a lot of help. Weather they’re coming straight from design school or they have taught themselves, they still have a long way to go before they can work independently on major projects without error. It’s just part of the learning process.
It can be easy to get frustrated with The Newbie because they make a lot of mistakes and likely need some instruction to get out of their bad design habits. They will also ask you a lot of questions. Try to be patient and explain the reasons why things are done a certain way, not just how to do them.
2. The Procrastinator
The procrastinator is usually a super talented designer who somehow never figured out the whole time management thing. They constantly need project due date reminders and will still be scrambling to finish something three minutes before it’s due. If you talk to them they’re often stressed out, complaining about something they should be working on at that very moment.
This type of designer is often seen, by coworkers and management alike, as more trouble than they’re worth. The Procrastinator can be given a reasonable project deadline that they keep putting off until the night before it’s due, then panic and ask for help from everyone they can.
Eventually, the procrastinator will get fired from an agency despite their talent, unless they learn time management and how to prioritize. Once they figure out how not to procrastinate, they will do well in their career. Until that time, they can be very stressful to work with.
3. The Illustrator
The Illustrator is a graphic designer who never really wanted to go into graphic design. They’re ultra talented and can basically draw anything. They’ve got dozens of sketchbooks at home filled to the brim with penciled sketches of characters from their mind. At some point, they realized a illustrative career might be difficult to obtain. Instead, they went into design.
The Illustrator learned Photoshop, went to design school, and found a job .They have no desire to work on logos or business cards and you’ll usually catch them sketching faces on their lunch break. When given an illustrative project, they will dive right in and come back quickly with some brilliantly executed illustrations. You’ll be completely in awe of their talent.
When given a project that does not illustration however, they are a bit lost. The Illustrator is an asset to the creative team; without a doubt. Unfortunately, not every project that comes in will require unique illustrations. This person will need some guidance on design projects that need technical expertise and might not be familiar with many other design concepts that can’t be translated into illustration.
4. The Lone Talent
The Lone Talent is the one designer that makes you feel completely inadequate as a creative person. It doesn’t matter what project they are given, it ends up spectacular. Often, this person will prefer to work alone and might not stick entirely to the creative brief, which can present problems. However, everyone is just so blown away by what they create that it usually doesn’t matter.
The Lone Talent could attend a Monday morning meeting and be tasked with making a simple website concept that’s due at the end of the week. For the entire week, they are silently working away, skipping lunches and ignoring distractions.
When Friday comes, the creative director will stop by to ask how the project is. The Lone Talent will say they’re still working on it but will then show their progress so far. All you hear from the creative director is ‘holy shit’ and soon everyone crowds around the Lone Talent’s computer to see the most amazing, interactive, illustrative website design concept imaginable.
The Lone Talent is the type of designer that adds so much value to an agency, but increases the Imposter Syndrome anxiety in every other designer there.
5. The Mentor
The Mentor knows it all. If you have a technical question, they just know it without a Google search. They’ve been a graphic designer for so many years they do a lot of things differently than how you might, but their process usually ends up with better results. The mentor is a senior designer, art director, or creative director, and they know what they’re doing better than anyone else you’ll ever work with.
The Mentor is happy to help you learn and improve, though they are usually too busy for that. The Mentor is the person an agency will give the big, important projects because they will give the best results. The Mentor usually has a distinct design style that is classic, polished, but not too trendy. This is ideal since design trends change so quickly.
Out of all the designers you’ll meet in your career, The Mentor is one of the types of designers you want to get to know and observe carefully to see how they work.
6. The Generalist
The Generalist is the designer who can do a lot of things. They design logos, have a passion for photography, know basic animation, motion graphics, and a bit of code. This person isn’t necessarily that great at any of them, but they are still a valuable asset to a small agency. Over time, The Generalist might specialize a bit more, but their skills in every area will grow.
If they’ve only been in the industry for a few years, they will likely have large knowledge gaps in each area of interest. For this reason, The Generalist might need some helpful guidance every so often from more specialized designers.
7. The Hipster
Maybe this list isn’t complete without The Hipster. Honestly, for some designers, The Hipster label just fits so well there isn’t a better name. These designers are very talented and very, very on trend. Their design work is usually top-notch, polished, and trendy AF. The Hipster delves into the latest Apple tech, uses the coolest design tools, and designs work that gets showcased on Instagram. They carry various Wacom tablets, iPads, sketchbooks, and a full array of designer pencils with them everywhere and pretty much always have headphones on.
The Hipster, while full of talent and technical know-how, can often need some input from other creatives to avoid creating the same thing over and over again. The Hipster works well with other designers, though they typically prefer to work independently on projects.
Types of Designers You’ll Work With: In Conclusion
Okay, so there are actually a ton of different types of designers you’ll work with since there are so many different types of people. There are far more than I can put on this list, but these seem to be the most common 7 types that I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Many of the designers I’ve worked with fit into more than one of these, and I would consider myself both a Mentor and a Generalist.
Each type of designer brings something different to the table and you can learn a lot from them. You can also teach them a lot as well, so don’t be afraid to be someone’s design mentor.
What are some other common types of designers you’ve worked with before? Let me know in the comments below.