When life throws you a curveball, you’ve got to change your swing lest you miss.
A recession is like a curveball. For those who have already been in the working world for some time, a recession means potential pay cuts – even layoffs. For students fresh out of college and loaded with debt, a recession might mean an extended visit to Mom and Pop’s while scraping by behind the cash register of a greasy fast food joint. But this is only the case if you’re going to look at the glass half-empty. Why not approach a recession as an opportunity to think outside the box? Why not change your swing?
The Interventionist’s Toolkit, an essay by Mimi Zeiger, speculates on the impact of the economic recession on the creative fields of architecture, construction, and design. Zeiger references multiple innovative urban installations that typically repurpose spaces vacated due to the recession. Her point in talking about such things is to demonstrate that creative, proactive people have the power to change their circumstances. This principle applies to all creative occupations, no less graphic design.
Take, for instance, the DIY (do it yourself) movement that has recently made a comeback in the field of graphic design. Given that jobs are scarce, an impressive portfolio is necessary to succeed. That means hard work, and it needs to show. Pair that with the fact that recent technology has made design software much more accessible to the average person. See where this is going? Designers are jumping on the DIY bandwagon so their work will stand out of the crowd. After all, it takes a lot of talent and self-motivation to create something from scratch. That makes the DIY movement both a reaction against technology and a means of combating the recession. But there’s more to changing your swing than simply swapping your toolset.
In order to find success during a recession, it is absolutely imperative to advertise your very best work, communicate often, and treat others with humility. Going the extra mile with any portfolio or project will surely be noticed by prospective employers. It also helps to be a strong communicator – always responding to calls or emails thoughtfully and in good time. A little humor, when appropriate, is never bad. Lastly, showing unconditional respect for people who contact you will go a long way in building your business reputation.
So, when I graduate and start searching for a creative job, I’m going to prepare myself for a curveball. My personal artistic passion for illustration has me leaning toward DIY, but I’m not banking on hand-drawn typography alone to get me hired. The most important things for me to do now are to excel in presentation, communication, and respectability. That’s a formula for a home run.