Design Problems

The piles of products that needed rebranding only got bigger, as the team got smaller. Down a designer and with only three of us left to “work our graphics magic” as other employees would say, our week days were filled with the constant struggle of hurrying up only to wait when another department had to provide us with information. Thankfully the waiting gave us time to finish other small side projects, but we all knew that we would be needing a fourth designer…and soon.

Two weeks into being a three man (or two woman and a man) team, our supervisor came into our office having realized we never had job descriptions created for anyone in our graphics department. So we all sat down as a team and started describing our responsibilities as a whole and as individuals. “You guys share a lot of responsibilities.” She said, shocked and wondering how we were going to be reviewed in the future if everything we did, we shared with only a couple exceptions. “Well, design is collaborative, so isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing?” I asked confused. “Well how am I supposed to know who did what amount of work for these projects?” She asked trying to understand where the hierarchy in our department was. “We all do large chunks of it.” He said looking puzzled. “Sometimes we each take a whole project start to finish, but our team members offer critique and suggestions.” Said our other team member in an attempt to get the full scope of how we worked together on projects.

Our supervisor, new to how we had done things, still didn’t fully understand. In a competitive corporate setting, collectivism wasn’t something people saw very often. In other departments, individuals took on certain tasks in an assembly line sort of process. In a small graphics department, everyone just did a little bit of everything, because we all have equal talent, and because we all knew we were a department far too small for a company of this scale…so no one could afford to slack, and no one could afford the luxury of a single responsibility.

Still, afterward we collaborated as a team to help assign one another leadership tasks. We wrote out our job descriptions together, with some things shared, and some things realized as singular strengths that met the needs of certain tasks.

Mostly, we laughed at the ignorance of our superiors to our plight. How little they understood the importance of creativity. How little they understood that it took a village to raise a corporate brand…much less 9 in-house and 12 private label. No wonder artists are so misunderstood. We are seen as islands when we are meant to be, and try to live as, villages.

Still, we knew what we had to do. We knew nothing changed in our department. We knew we would keep going as we were because it worked for us. We knew that the powers that be just needed labels to organize themselves. We knew that we could share and didn’t need the labels and titles of individual tasks. It was a hoop. A hoop to jump through and kill an hour of our time with while we waited for the rest of the company to catch up with us.

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