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.