In 1985 I had chosen my career path. I was going to uni to become a world famous Graphic Designer. My parents and just about everyone else all asked the same thing:
– “What does a graphic designer actually do?”
– “Well, we create graphics for companies that need to say something.”
Yes, maybe an overly naive explanation, but what did I know at 18?
The truth is, at that age very few of us had any real idea of what journey we were embarking on, let alone what life would be like as a graphic designer. By the end of third year, we still had little idea.
Soon enough, my first real job. A designer at a printer. Then the second, third and fourth jobs, and suddenly I found myself no longer developing “graphics” but responsible for solving business problems for some pretty serious companies.
I was working as a senior creative for The Walt Disney Company across many markets, and I couldn’t remember the last time I actually sat down and designed something. The company had continued promoting me into roles that leveraged the huge Disney creative engine with the task to add shareholder value.
Pictured: The Walt Disney Company Melbourne 1996. (Note the Apple laptop in the background – still got it and still works!)
At the time, I recall feeling like my career had been derailed. I’d planned to become a successful designer, and I ended up a businessman solving business problems.
It was at that point it occurred to me how powerful creative people in the corporate workplace actually were. It was just that, aside from the Walt Disney Company, most companies had no clue.
We’ve all done some kind of personality test at some point, and received insights into how our brains work. One of the core spectrums is analytical vs creative. “OK, all right-dominant brains, pick up your easels and head over to your lofts. Alright lefties, grab your calculators and ledgers…”
What many may not know about designers is they tend to be well developed in both left and right brain thinking. This makes them able to sit comfortably in the boardroom to discuss business strategy, and then head off to the brainstorm session to push the envelope with creative thinking.
Over the years I have employed more creative people than I can remember, and the most powerful were the ones that applied their creative prowess with a true understanding of the business problem that brought the client to us in the first place.
In a time where design seems to becoming more and more commoditised, it is more important than ever to demonstrate to our clients how much value these creative thinkers can add to the bottom line.
Whereas at one point I felt my career took a tangent, in fact I was blessed with an employer that saw the true power of left/right brain thinkers.