Most of my friends think my profession is cool. They don’t really see me as cool, they just think what I do is cool, but guys (and gals alike), let me use this opportunity to share with you a little secret: Photoshop is just a small part of what I do.

Don’t look at me that way. It is a sad truth that you have to accept: Photoshop is just one tool among many others that I use. Since we are in the topic, I will confess one thing: I would not be a graphic designer if it were not for this image editing software.

One morning, back when I was still in eight grade, a good friend of mine brought me a gift stored in 8 floppy disks. Photoshop2 these read, all scribbled in a handwriting closely resembling undecipherable hieroglyphics.”You will probably like this,” he said, while jokingly concluding the handover “Just don’t stay up all night playing with it”.

Little did he know that his illegal gift 1would be the cause for my first all-night(er) –even though half the time was spent in the installation from the disks to a Pentium 1 personal computer– and for guiding me into my lifelong professional path.

Graphic designers think and talk in terms of concept, content, form, people, context, representation and audience. We address these with typography, scale, proportions, various mediums, and color (among others), yet, isn’t it interesting that the general public talks about us in terms of Photoshop, fonts, cool, graphics, ads, Apple, websites, and logos?

In my friends’ conception of what I do, I make posters, wedding invitations, flyers, comic books, fake photographs, VIP concert tags and cool animated flash websites. This of course, needless to say, makes me cool. The fact that I manage my work with a critical anthropological eye, that I think in terms of systems instead of pieces, that I culturally ground my creations to fit within an intended audience and that I conceptually approach designs are just second nature when it comes to the cool factor.

Good thing I’ve never thought of myself as cool, but the situation makes me think about the fact that not everyone out there understands what graphic designers do (specially in smaller Caribbean islands), and as I begin to grow into this field, I wonder how I can begin to help disseminate the true nature of how we think and what we do.


1 I now buy all of my software, but I have to say that without this breach of copyright law, I would have never been exposed to this life-changing software.

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4 Responses to I am cool. I am a graphic designer.

  1. Alfonso says:

    Good thing I’ve never thought of you as being cool, either. Hehe.

    But seriously, I think that -at least in PR- the cool factor presents somewhat of a downward spiral that feeds upon itself, where kids want to get into “graphic design” (namely, learning to use PS filters to color their anime characters and such) because it’s so cool, and “graphic design” is so cool because look at all those PS filters you can use, man! For some reason, “design” seems to be about the tools and how far you can take them, instead of finding solutions and how effectively (and beautifully, sure) you can apply those solutions. It becomes a PS contest, which is pretty annoying, in my opinion.

    There’s material here for a whole series of discussions.

  2. Otto says:

    I don’t know that anyone who plays darts as poorly as you can be cool. But, damn, your design stuff certainly is. Maybe there’s an inverse relationship at play here … cool people do uncool things, uncool people do cool things …

  3. Champuleon says:

    The only way I will think you are cool is if you drink a glass of Glenfiddich 30 Years Old, while smoking a Montecristo Media Noche in your beach house in Marbella with three models: one Brazilian, one Czech, and one Ethiopian, while they are dancing to Communication Breakdown by Led Zeppelin. Then, and ONLY then, will I think you are cool. In the meantime keep drinking you Palo Viejo while smoking a Phillie Blunt you bought at the Texaco across the street with the call girl from Santurce while listening to Tono Rosario. So cafre.

  4. Rebecca Tegtmeyer says:

    I think you’re cool. Nice post, it has inspired me to reflect more on my journey into becoming a designer and what it means to me and others…perhaps you may have even MOTIVATED me.

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