Too Old To Be A Designer?
Recently on the Creative Freelancer Blog, designer, Laurel Black, wrote a post, Too Old To Be A Designer? in which she worried aloud whether, at 61, she could continue to get work as a designer. She pointed to a youth bias in the design and marketing professions and wondered why experience isn’t always valued by the people who hire designers, whether for freelance or salaried positions.
Black is not alone in her worries; she clearly struck a nerve. Her blog post received more comments than any other post in the history of the blog (and they’re still coming)! Most were long and thoughtful, some optimistic, others plaintive. They came from across the spectrum, from designers who had recently lost their jobs, from those who’ve recently gone back to school for design and from independent or freelance designers who can’t imagine retiring but, like Laurel, worry about the “youngins” taking their place.
In the comments, there are lots of tips about how to position yourself with the competitive edge of maturity. But one question rises to the top: what can be done to educate the people who hire designers, about the value of experience? Also in the comments, Laurel reframes her main concern as follows:
I think that designers are often selected for their ability to embody how the client wishes to view him/herself, rather than for straight-up design competency. If the client wishes to feel hip, cool, cutting-edge, etc. and associates those attributes with youth, the client will justify this unconscious criteria by citing all the reasons why geezers can’t cut it in youth-oriented markets. Never mind that the bulk of buying power rests with boomers. (This whole issue is a bit ironic since the youth cult started with us and now we are reaping its results.)
So here’s my question to all of you: how do we counter these unconscious purchasing criteria when they occur? Or do we? Is it best to just shrug and figure that you aren’t going to sell everyone you pitch for a variety of reasons?
What’s your take?