I am one designer that has the pleasure of working in all realms – I have been an agency designer, an in-house designer and now I work full-time as a freelance designer. Each role has its own set of rewards and challenges. Today I’m hoping to shed some light on the mystery of agency vs in-house.
An Agency Designer
An agency designer is an exciting job in that it offers new challenges all the time. One day you might be working on a hotel logo – the next you might be working on a flyer for the Humane Society or an annual report for the Chamber of Commerce. There is a constant stream of different clients, which prevents you from getting into a creative rut.
The downside of being an agency designer is long hours, depending on the agency. I have found that agencies work more quickly and at a higher volume than in many corporate settings.
An In-House Designer
As an in-house designer, you have the advantage of being the expert and truly knowing the brand inside and out. While some may say this means the work is repetitive, I see it as a means of constantly challenging oneself to break outside of the comfort zone. It is easy to churn out versions of the same design, but how can you take that design and make it different and interesting? In some ways, this pushes your creativity more than ever.
On the downside, sometimes working in-house for “free” challenges your legitimacy. People think they can get higher quality work at an agency, or they take your work for granted. While this is not true, it is an frequent challenge to in-house designers. The best defense is doing solid, creative design.
What challenges have you faced as an agency or in-house designer? What is your favorite part?
While I definitely appreciate web design, and all the possibilities that come with going digital, I will for now and forever more love print. There is something about a tangible design that I feel is rich and lush – a luxurious experience that a design on screen can’t quite emulate.
Take a wedding invitation, for example. While e-vite sites are vastly improving with the development of sites like Paperless Post, most brides still opt for rich paper and extravagant printing methods like thermography or letterpress. It feels special. It feels expensive. On-screen-only invites just don’t have the same flare.
At conferences, people still love tangible giveaways. They pick up business cards, postcards, buttons… What they often don’t do is scan QR codes – and if you put your info on a thumb drive, they can’t see it until they get home. People like stuff – particularly free stuff. It is yet another experience that we have not found an equivalent for in the digital realm.
According to Karlene Lukovitz at The Association of Magazine Media, printed magazines often fail when attempting to make the transition to digital only (Perception vs. Reality). I think part of this is that we fail to celebrate each medium for what it is. The virtual experience strives to get closer and closer to the actual physical experience… This means that the print experience clearly resonates with the audience. Why does iBooks implement a page flip function? People still want books to look like books.
While I think both print and digital have their place, and are both amazing mediums, I feel that print is far from dead. Long live paper.