Tips for “Old Designers”

A recent blog post from Laurel Black, Too Old To Be A Designer, generated an avalanche of comments which clearly struck a nerve.

Amongst the comments were lots of tips and suggestions. Here are a few from Laurel’s round up of the comments:

  • Go after higher-level projects that require a level of experience and insight that younger designers can’t really bring.
  • Rely on our more highly developed listening skills.
  • Cultivate a positive attitude and remember our advantages.
  • Project confidence, and know the difference between that and arrogance.
  • Keep up with trends in all forms of design (not just our own).
  • Value our history, experiences and hard-won skills.
  • Volunteer as a great way to build up a portfolio and experience.

What would you add?

BTW: Laurel will be leading a Breakfast Roundtable on this topic at the Creative Freelancer Conference, June 23-24 in Chicago. It’s not too late to register.

15 thoughts on “Tips for “Old Designers”

  1. Jade

    I have found that being involved with design schools (advisory board, portfolio reviews, mock interviews) and hiring interns is another great way to keep relevant, invest in the next generation of designers, and encourage a fresh infusion of new styles and ideas into one’s work.

  2. Linda Rodgers

    This is a nice attempt to apeal to the older designer but the suggestes arn’t realistic. Finding higher level projects is near impossible and the line of younger workers meaning 40-50 year olds are eager to take those jobs. All the rest of the suggestions are demeaning, most older workers know and use these suggestions daily because they grow up in a time that courtisy was part of thier up bring. Years of experience have taught them the rest.
    This is a nasty little story that the media doesn’t want to touch. You are talking down to people that are smart, experienced, eager to work and know how to show up on time and put in a full days work. If you truely want to help older designers ie. old workers coming up with ideas that isn’t pabulum. One of these days you will face the same problem. This is the first generation that planned to work into their seventies and more.

  3. Brenda

    In 2003 I was let go from a job because of my age and being an older designer. As a manager of the graphics department, I was told that the artists felt like they were working for their mother. I went freelance again after being full time for 10 years. But i did have 30 years of experience, and you are correct. I got better jobs because of my experience and patience to talk through projects. I learned a lot that day I was let go, and now I am with a company that hired me because of my experience. They were one of my freelance clients.

  4. Roo

    Make sure you keep doing great work and make every job count. We’re only as good as the last piece of work we did. Win awards. This will keep you competitive and it validates what you do – both in the eyes of your industry and peers, but just as importantly, your potential clients.

  5. David

    I am 51, and have been in this business my whole life. It is getting more difficult to find a 9 to 5 job with all the younger and lower paid people available. I have been freelancing full time since being laid off in 2000. I have never advertised my services since word of mouth from satisfied clients keep me busy. I have strived to give each client the absolute best design services I can. Stressing customer service and satisfaction has been my best advertising. You must stay current on design trends and skills. Always exceed your clients expectations and they will be clients for life, and, they will spread your name around to more potential clients. If you have decades of experience, you need to exploit that experience. Don’t think of it as young versus old. Think of it as experienced versus inexperienced.

  6. Karen Schmedeke

    After reading all this brilliant stuff, I’m thinking – why don’t we organize? Come up with some cute name and make this the group to join. I’ll tell you – it would be great to have you all to pass work off to when the load gets to be too great. I won’t have to worry about training you or about you making rookie mistakes.
    What do you think?

  7. Lisa

    Karen–That’s a great idea, I would join! David–Have you been looking for a 9 to 5 while freelancing? I find freelancing to be too spotty; clients tend to come and go. And forget benefits.

  8. Deb

    I think a group like Karen is proposing is a great idea! I am an “old” new designer looking for resources. Trying to break into a youth oriented profession is tricky and finding a mentor, forget it. I would like to join a group like this and soak in your knowledge and experience.

  9. pam

    Count me in with the oldies “but goodies” group. We coud use Meetup and maybe hook up with Adobe to use their site on Townsend in San Francisco. We ned a leader/coordinator and develop a mission statement and a direction. All the ideas already presented would be part of it:
    support, etc

  10. Mary Bieniak

    I would certainly be on board – this has been a wonderful blog to follow. Having everyone as a resource and support would be wonderful.

  11. Michael Mingoia

    It is tough out there these days….especially if your technical skills are obsolete and you have no interest or passion for typing in front of a TV screen. What does one do with one’s aesthetic skills and experience if one doesn’t think that computers and what they produce is “all that”? What happens to us folk who like to work with things made from atoms, not photons? The nature of the creative industry has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Using your hands in conjunction with your creativity has become de-valued, unless you are typing or moving a mouse.