Life Beyond Graphic Design? Three Insights From Ex-Graphic Designers

As graphic designers, with our eyes glued to the computer screen and our hands permanently affixed to a mouse or tablet pen, it's easy to forget the outside world. Sometimes, when your eyes are strained and you're battling carpal tunnel syndrome, it's nice to know that there are former graphic designers who are successful in industries that don't involve kerning. Thankfully, AIGA/NY and Spark NYC brought together three panelists--all educated as graphic designers--who questioned their roles and eventually chose to take different career paths. While listening to Randi Bookman Harris, Erik Goetze, and Denyse Schmidt, I noticed three important themes:

  1. Both Randi and Erik expressed the importance of word-of-mouth to the success of their businesses. With the deluge of social media, it's nice to know everyday connections are still vital to businesses.
  2. Years of color-correcting and obsessive kerning pay off--a designer's attention to detail is crucial in launching a successful business in other industries.
  3. A graphic designer is often expected to be a jack-of-all-trades. It was interesting to note that each panelist decided to specialize in his or her chosen field.