I am a Hybrid Designer

Posted 31/08/2016 by Maral


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You go to a conference or just make conversation with new people and someone asks you:

‘So, what do you do?’ …

I started as a classic graphic designer, I visualise data and information mainly for digital interfaces but not exclusively. I also consider myself a design strategist/researcher that helps conceptualise and build cohesive brand and campaign experiences. This also implies project/team management, client communication, cost forecasting, and (pixel perfect) production. Sometimes I share my knowledge in a workshop or seminar. Every now and then I am also considered an artist/activist when I get invited to residencies where I can create whatever I feel like creating.

You see, answering this question becomes more complex the further you develop your career. Asking ‘what do you do’ is a borderline stigmatising question — especially when your journey is not necessarily a typical one. But why is this the case?

The real urge — or stigma — is to give you, my friend, client, or my mother, a quick idea of what I do. Ideally just a short and crisp sentence summarising all my hard and soft skills. Oh, and of course I want to include the field of work I focus on. It almost seems like we’re desperately trying to simplify what should be celebrated for, beautiful complexity. It’s taken me a while to make peace with this idea, I’ll tell you how I got here.

The need for categories is not only understandable but necessary. Defining categories creates boundaries around skills and helps you and others understand what you’re capable of and where you might fit in. Let’s be honest, this is still the way to land your next gig. Why would you need to squish yourself into just one sentence?

It’s the ever evolving nature of being a designer that’ll get you to transform your personal career journey. ‘What do you do’ really is a living or transforming artefact. Even if you’re a specialist, let’s say a typographer, your career will probably not be static. Think of what your career looked like in the very early days, and compare it with today.

“Hybrid or not , our day to day roles involve so much more. No one does just one thing — so aren’t we all hybrids?”, Lubna Malik

It is ok to respect your complexity, in fact you should celebrate it. It makes you a hybrid. And guess what, it is great to be a hybrid. It is ok if you need more than one sentence to describe what you do.

I am not just a graphic designer anymore. With every new opportunity, client and job I inevitably widen my personal spectrum of creativity and skills — I continuously reshape myself.

I keep doing a lot of things — therefore I am a hybrid designer.