The Future of the Creative Industry

Last Wednesday I visited the graduating Design Students at my alma mater James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I really enjoyed my visit, the students were inquisitive and (judging by the work displayed in the hallways) very talented typographers and creative thinkers. The conversation raised many interesting questions and started some engaging conversation.

Since I was in school “Creative Hotlist” has been the destination online when seeking employment opportunities for the overall creative industry (not just the web industry). Their online description is:

Creative Hotlist: Job Searches, Portfolios and Recruiting for Graphic and Web Designers, Writers, Photographers and Illustrators.”

When I do a basic nation-wide search on this site my results include all sorts of different occupation titles. All but a very few of these job descriptions require some knowledge of web or interaction design, and more than half are in the web industry.

While at JMU many of the students asked about “PDFs” as a means of sending their work to employers. I found this very interesting because every place I have worked since graduation has had a minimal requirement of an online “web presence” for consideration of any design position. Other alumni who were present seemed to think that PDFs were a fine practice for sending out work, and having an online portfolio was really more of a “web designer” qualification or an addition to your overall portfolio. This advice concerned me so I asked a designer who worked at a predominantly print studio what they expect prospective hires to send and the response was what I expected. They told me they accepted PDFs, but often did not even look at them or consider them because a web portfolio is more convenient to view when looking through tons of applicants. It also shows that the applicant is versatile. Should we as an industry advise students that the bare minimum is acceptable?

With so many jobs in the creative industry moving towards the web, shouldn’t there be less of a divide between the idea that there are “web designers” and “print designers”? Shouldn’t the basic understanding of interface & interaction design, user experience and information architecture be a requirement for all seeking design jobs and not just those seeking web jobs? Should the industry not try and encourage students to stay ahead of the curve and strive towards the future.. (even if it is a little more work and sometimes really uncomfortable for those old-schoolers)?

Design Equals Design

I’m not writing this post as a way to alienate those who don’t understand those concepts but to inspire them to broaden their horizons and realize design is design no matter what the media. The creative industry runs parallel to advances in technology and in the future there will even be more lines blurred between print and web. So why not get a jump on it?

I sat down on Saturday morning and put together a resource list in response to many of the questions I was asked on my visit to JMU. Basically I went through my feed reader, & books … and typed it up into wordpress until my eyes bled. So there may be some room for improvement, if you take a look at it and have suggestions for additions, feel free to comment or contact me. I hope that the list serves as a helpful starting point for anyone approaching the exciting industry of Web Design.

Resources for Students & Job Seekers