Critique and graphic by: Chris Talbot-Heindl

I started out as a self-taught designer. When I say that, I mean that I had a natural gift; I honed it by studying my ass off, and then began to design things, being clear upfront that I was by no means an expert, but I could do in a pinch for the non-profit that I worked for.

When I didn’t know, or was unsure, I studied more. Internet searches, a few key websites, and common sense were my guide. I eventually took a few conferences here and there to bone up on what I didn’t know. I worked doing design for eight years before taking my first formal University class in web design.

Eleven years later, and I’d still consider myself a beginner. I can make things that don’t suck and I can sell things with the things I make and design. I am by no means an award-winning designer, and I continue to learn things as I go.

This is not the method of non-designer designers I would like to critique – not just because that would be incredibly hypocritical, but also because I don’t see anything wrong with that method (provided you are up front with the companies who contract or hire you).

No, the non-designer designers I would like to ream at the moment are those who don’t know what the hell they are doing, have never looked into it, have requested quick tutorials from real designers, and then take it upon themselves to make an ass out of themselves and the companies they work for, while stealing from actual designers (in ideas and/or contracts).

Side note: I was approached by a non-designer designer once with a design they wanted me to “emulate.” By emulate, they meant copy. I brought up the concept of “intellectual property,” to which they responded by making it themselves; an exact replica of someone else’s design complete with stolen clip art and sans margins, padding, color theory, and common aesthetic sense.

Those people.

The kind of “mavericks” who look like they “created” the piece in Microsoft Word.

The kind of “nonconformists” who don’t know margin or padding from their swollen posterior.

Today, I received in the mail something quite atrocious. It was about 4 times as large as it ought to have been, with justified text (complete with hyphens), drop shadows on every single graphic, a font size adjusted for a blind granddad who misplaced his glasses, and a complete disregard for white space, margins, padding, or consistent columns. Hell, it even ignored the proper dimensions of the logo.

It seems as though every creature with the Adobe Suite believes he or she is a graphic designer. It feels as though all these individuals have such little regard for the knowledge that a graphic designer has that they feel they can simply throw something together using an expensive piece of software and it will be as valid of a piece as someone with skill, experience, learning, or an eye for aesthetics would make.

News flash, it ain’t.

If you don’t know what a margin is or how to utilize it, if you don’t know that Comic Sans is the devil, if you are unaware of the pattern in which people read or what types of fonts make it more difficult to read, if you don’t know that one does not simply use a drop shadow, if you don’t know the difference between Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, you have no business designing shit. Or, I guess you do, as that will be all you design – shit.

Leave the designing to the designers, who have trained themselves or been trained; or take it upon yourself to learn. Learn basic design principles; check out books on Adobe programs; take tutorials (They now have this amazeballs thing on the Internets called YouTube where you can learn anything! Which is a hell of a lot more than they had when I was teaching myself.). Teach yourself or get taught, or admit you don’t know and have a real designer do it. My eyeballs thank you for your cooperation.

This has been an aesthetics service announcement. You’re welcome.