The stereotypical graphic designer thrives on coffee and deadlines, has a cluttered desktop, keeps late hours and often has demanding clients who think they’re the only ones who matter. It’s understandable, then, that the average graphic designer undergoes a lot of stress. Which is why I was surprised to read an article that cites graphic design as one of six low-stress career options.
“Creativity abounds for the graphic designer,” the article states, “and that can open doors to fun and relaxation even while you are hard at work.” While I wholeheartedly agree that a main reason for choosing a career in graphic design is the opportunity to be creative, let’s be realistic – for every project that calls for an original, engaging and fulfilling design, there are tons of jobs that call for mind-numbing tasks such as minor Photoshopping or cutting and pasting of text. And relaxing? I’ve known several graphic designers who’ve developed stress-induced ulcers stemming from mounting deadlines, gallons of coffee and after-hours drinks and cigarettes. Not to mention the pressure the freelance artist is under to find ample work. I recall the friend whose doctor diagnosed his ulcer and gave him the death blow: “No more coffee, Guinness or gumbo.” That friend eventually switched to the less-stressful career of teaching at an inner-city high school. Speaking of teachers, their average salary in the United States is $50,528, according to Salary.com, compared with $46,095 for graphic designers. That’s right – teachers, who are famous for being underpaid, make more than graphic designers. Despite all my seeming complaints, I understand why people choose deadline-driven careers such as graphic design – after all, I’ve made that choice, too. There is a great sense of satisfaction when a project is completed. There’s the matter of pride upon seeing your name attached to it. And there is the bounty of ideas for future jobs that are born from the previous. Low stress? I think not. But rewarding? Definitely.