When beginning this course my intentions in terms of my future occupation were to always become a “designer” of some sort; whether I be a graphic designer, interior designer, architect or a visual communicator, I didn’t really know what each occupation consisted of as I was only exposed to the surface value of each of them. To get a better understanding of the trade/profession I would have to learn myself, and try piece things together as I faced them. I would find myself building the blocks of what my interpretation of design was, and try find the middle line between what people expected a designer to do and how a person’s creativity can fairly be paid for.
The fact is, the occupation of being a ‘graphic designer’ is predominantly a trade. From the beginning of time, I saw the occupation of a designer as a profession, and not an occupation which held similar labour facets of a builder, plumber or electrician. It required a level of expertise which some people could appreciate and some others could not. Throughout, my course and this subject I have now valued the fact that my dreams of becoming a successful designer have slowly diminished – why you may ask? It’s known that a designer’s work will always be critiqued and shifted by another’s subjective opinions; positively in this case, it can only make the designer better in the long-term, but the true fact is, no new business owners, or kickstarter business owners want to pay for the “we’re almost there, maybe change this, and make this bigger, and make the colour pop a bit more” design, they want the whole, fine cut, hand-made, “polished 15 times over” design – and when it comes time for the designer to invoice the client, the client won’t pay the full amount, as they can’t afford the 36 hours of work the designer originally put in for them. Although, in some cases with larger businesses, being a designer can pay off, but realistically the occupation will always be the ’fence-sitting’ type.
Although this seems rather negatively focused, I believe there is some positive to take from this situation. The fact that my overall values have changed about becoming a successful designer, have allowed me to question what else I would like to be. I always loved that question – “what do you want to be when you grow up?” The common thing kids recall they would want to be, would be a “police officer, firefighter, lawyer, soldier, model, or a vet.” How simple life was back then, with little responsibility and a lot of time playing outside. As we grow older, understanding the ‘adult’ things in life, bring us into a world of the unknown and a feeling of being afraid of failure. The stresses of applying for a full-time position are the hardest, as you are essentially putting yourself on show, like a ‘pole-dancer’, with the eyes of your bosses and recruiters slapping your wage at you. It’s the most traumatising experience to begin with, but once you get the hang of it and fail a few times, the feeling of failure strangely reverts to a feeling of subtle confidence. As Michael White states, “… in the context of this understanding of modern power, people’s mistakes and errors, the unsettling contingencies of their lives, and at times even their misfortunes or failure to achieve desired ends can constitute unique outcomes.” (White, M pg. 26) As unique as the analogy of a ‘pole-dancer’ could be, it truly feels like that. Throughout my course and studies, I had never learnt what it would feel like to be in a career, no work experience would prepare me for it and no relative or family member could warn me about it enough, for me to feel comfortable about moving into this world of the unknown.
White also highlights the concept of ‘relativism’ which is declared as conservative, as “it ignores the inequality of access to resources, the structures that privilege some voices over other voices, the rules about which forms of speech are valorised, about who is to speak about what.” (White 2011, p. 67) The most amazing evidence of this is through Siobhan Christian’s Interview (Lecture Week 8), where as the Student Advocacy Officer of UOW, her role in supporting students and writing on their behalf respectively to the board, meant that she gained a job role in which she would need to work harder and smarter in order to gain that status of being valorised in her position. Siobhan, loved to write – poetry, narratives and short stories. But felt like she never really pursued with writing. Her life growing up as an adult and becoming a mother meant that she had gained a value of being nurturing, to which her role as a Student Advocacy Officer worked relatively well to. Essentially, all of Siobhan’s life values were forever shifting, and all the skills she has learnt all help to in some way with her occupation. When I relate Siobhan’s experiences to my own, I guess I am still learning more about myself, what I can do and how I can develop myself to be something and to be someone I want to be, no matter what occupation.
I began this subject describing my own personal values as being Clever, Compressed, but Calm. The three C’s are humbly me “to a T” – I feel like a clever person, I’m observant, clue-y and believe I have the “gift of the gab”. The compression in me is one that takes a positive stance, in which I believe I am the type of person who can handle some pressure, and then take a calm approach to everything I do. Throughout the course, being offered a full-time job, quitting my other jobs, and having a social life, there has been no balance what-so-ever. To which I see the Three C’s crumbling so fecklessly in front of me. It is this unbalanced life to which I strive to urge to piece together once again, as we were, when we were children – with nothing to worry about and no responsibility pressed on by others. This feeling of building an identity around ourselves is not “constructed by alternative stories of their own lives and own identities. The alternative stories of life and identity that are derived in these contexts are of the pool of the discourses of culture…” (White 2011, p.9) White describes our identities as cultural building block to which we find out more about ourselves throughout the experiences endured through living.
Personally, the act of me writing this essay is to truly outline how this years course has opened my mind to the understandings of how unknown of a world we live in. Throughout my studies and my life in general, I have been told that I will leave University a knowledgable individual, get a job I will love, work hard, become successful and become a family man. As much as I would love this to be true, I know it will take some goal-oriented campaigns to structure my life the way I want it to fall-out. However, it seems all that I have worked for, studying Graphic Design and Marketing & Advertising will not only deny me of ever wanting to getting a job in that industry, but also open my eyes to which people need those skills I have learnt and start making something of myself – my own job role, my own business, my own pay and my own controlled life. I have been forever saying, a subject like this should have existed in 2nd year of study as most people walk into University with falsely lead expectations and a structured life to which you will achieve when graduating from University. It is these cultural discourses which we form based off older generations of family to shape the way we want to succeed in life.
The focal point I relate to the most in the subject is the unexpected nature each of the Interviewees including my own personal Interview with Gregor Cullen. How each individual almost fell into their current roles – I am still waiting for this day to come. “Does this mean I’m unhappy?” No, just piecing together my life each day, and focusing on the things that make me ‘happier’. Enough about design, enough about jobs and occupations, and enough about structuring my life. With these things holding me back and pigeon-holing me as an individual, restricts me from evolving and moving to bigger and better things.
In summation, the entire course and studying my life in terms of the values I consider ‘valuable’ are still shifting. Through conversations, interviews and seminars focussing on others lives and learning from their experiences is both enlightening and definitely influential. It allows you to take facets of their own life and draw to experiences of your own. Through these experiences I am able to focus on the positives, and further develop my way to understanding my true values in life, and not just my desired values. The focus on occupations as a driving force behind life is a surface issue, you have to learn to use your own skills and make something of your own to enjoy working in that industry or enjoy that industry as it suits your personality and skill sets. The narratives drawn from experiences and cultural discourse truly outline who we are and what we are indeed meant to do with our lives, and wherever these lines may fall, they will eventually fall and allow you to find yourself as a happy, human being.
White, M 2011, Narrative Practice: Continuing the Conversations, W. W. Norton & Company, Adelaide, Australia.