Graphic designers love looking at a chart and graphic designers love having an opinion. Bring these two facts together and you have this beautifully presented, self-generated industry survey, published by Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright’s small but perfectly formed press, GraphicDesign&.
Roberts, Wright and Jessie Price worked with information designer Stefanie Posavec and social scientist Nikandre Kopcke to sift through a mammoth 1,988 responses to their 2015 industry survey. The results are both stylish and informative, shot through with humour (‘have you been asked to make it bigger?’ – 89.7 per cent said yes) and irreverence (the favourite Pantone colours question also unleashed a torrent of sarcastic answers), while also uncovering far more insidious attitudes, from both within and without the industry.
The elephant in the bar chart is gender, and the questions lay bare some home truths about what is still an industry with a very masculine perception, despite being skewed fairly equally between the sexes. Women designers are marginally better educated than their male counterparts yet are still paid less and believe that it’s not what you do, but who you know, that can help your career. Even given the overwhelmingly left-leaning bias of the dataset, this is sadly unsurprising, and shows that even this most creative, passionate and progressive of industries still has some way to go.
The book also reveals transatlantic differences – American designers work longer hours, earn more money and are far less likely to be freelance than in the UK. There are also 90 pages of designers ruminating on the best and worst thing about their jobs, a substantial number of which cited ‘clients’ in the latter category. The practice of graphic design is paradoxical, combining long hours of self-absorption with a need to be aware of a constantly evolving visual culture. Graphic Designers Surveyed highlights the industry’s often conflicting desires. The book itself is a quiet masterpiece of information design, conveying these conflicts with clarity and elegance. Above all, it showcases the obvious passion that underpins every click of the mouse.