If we were to ask a thousand people why they entered the profession and industry that they did, I’m certain that the reasons would be as varied as the people who hold them. Some people come from a long family history in a field such as law, or carpentry. Others can point to an influential relationship in their childhood, such as a sibling with autism or a parent with a terminal illness. The significance of those situations may have greatly influenced their choice to work with children with special needs or to contribute to the field of medicine. Others have a natural gift that grows into a deep love for music or art. In my case, I can point to a childhood affinity for the power of advertising.
There was always something that spoke to me from the advertising page - a combination of art well-executed and the advertiser’s ability to evoke in me a visceral response. Though I was too young to articulate it at that point, it was the advertisement’s ability to engage me at an emotional level that was so appealing. I’d liken it to the impact of a work of art - the piece that stops you in your tracks and causes you to catch your breath. It speaks to us, often in ways that we can’t fully express.
And that’s exactly how I treated advertising in my early years: like works of art. I plastered my walls with pages from magazines so that I could admire them and experience the same response that had initially attracted me.
It’s probably not surprising then that, in a family of engineers and doctors, I would aim for advertising. What I didn’t know though, was that the digital age was right around the corner, a fresh, new approach to advertising that I had not anticipated. Which is how, in the midst of pursuing traditional advertising, I changed course and found graphic design. And there I discovered a passion that would keep me up at night and which I would still love, even after fourteen years in the industry.
The root of this passion is the same reason why this blog post is not really about my personal love for graphic design. It’s about the fact that graphic design (and advertising and marketing) has the power to affect people, to move them and to communicate. Before we can sell them a product, or persuade them of a company’s inherent value, we have to engage with them. Through advertising, we speak to people at the level of their needs and emotions, in such a way that they open themselves up to a sort of dialogue (whether spoken or unspoken) with the company about how that need might be fulfilled.
That is the power of graphic design: the power to open those lines of communication.
Of course, the field of graphic design, like most, is always changing. With new technology, there are always new challenges. But with those, there are also new advantages, such as the ability to provide clients with websites that they can personally edit going forward, more user-friendly email newsletter campaigns and enhanced video capabilities that bridge the gap between the company and the consumer.
I view these as the things that enable me to tell my clients’ stories more effectively. Because I love the heart of graphic design - the ability to engage people - I never view my work as a job, or my day as a list of tasks to accomplish. Rather, I see each client and each product as a unique narrative to be presented in such a way that consumers are compelled to connect with the product. That ability undergirds my passion for graphic design.
It results in overtime I don’t notice or resent. It sparks my imagination at all hours - waking or sleeping. And it fuels my desire to give 150% so that my clients’ businesses reach their target markets and leave a lasting impression on them.
All because advertisers reached me at that emotional level, early in my life.
That is the power of graphic design.