I guess I’m blessed for being good at and enjoying both technical and creative sides of being a Web Designer. On the other hand, maybe it’s not that of a blessing, since I don’t possess killer programming skills of Linus Torvalds nor am I as talented as Saul Bass, or many other less prominent graphic designers. But at least I am not being intimidated neither by code nor by design and always tried to encourage my students-designers to give another chance to learning a programming language, and my students-programmers to discover their hidden creative side. Sometimes I succeeded, but admittedly, the majority of times I failed. I always wondered – why? My friend Ronald Huereca finally answered why. This is Ronald’s second guest post on Inspiration Bit. He’s not afraid of turning WordPress inside out and getting hands dirty with writing plugins, but apparently he’s intimidated by Graphic Design.

I’m sure we’ve all been there: a person sees you working on a website or goofing around in Photoshop and all of a sudden you’re their new best friend.

“Hey man, you can help build my next website!” or, “Hey dude, how ’bout you design me a new logo?”

I sit there and scratch my head and blurt out, “But I’m not a designer.”

“But, but… You’re doing everything a designer does!” my new best friend states.

“No, I’m not… I’m not doing anything even remotely close to what a real designer does. And here’s why…”

I present to you the eight things that intimidate me about the world of graphic design.

The Hardware

Normally guys like me would be bragging to no end about their “hardware”, but real designers always got me beat.

Sure, I’ve got my relatively new and shiny MacBook Pro, but that isn’t anything compared to the designer with a Mac Pro, two 30″ Cinema Displays, a kick-ass tablet, and a creative mind to boot.

I simply can’t compete. Nor do I really want to. I’m fine using my 17″ screen, my 19″ LCD as a second monitor, and my “wired” mouse. Yes, you just saw “wired” (somebody stole my wireless one).

The Software

It’s almost a given that every designer lives and breaths Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. But I’ve just now gotten the hang of removing people in Photoshop, much less editing or creating vectors and illustrations in Illustrator, or creating complex page layouts in InDesign.

When I read “a beginner’s guide to Illustrator” and was still lost, I knew something was wrong. I said to myself, “I’ll learn it when I need it, which could be never.”

And besides the obvious design apps, there’s the print apps such as Quark, Acrobat, and others that I have a vague clue how to go about using.

The Typography


I don’t love typography. In fact, I know very little about it other than the fact that practically every designer absolutely hates Comic Sans.

I don’t spend hours surfing through font websites because the chances of me spending a dime on a “coveted” font are nil. Spend something on some characters?! Are you nuts?

My idea of typography selection is scrolling through the “Font Family” drop-down box and deciding what looks cool.

Yes, I’m aware that certain fonts go good together. But I’m not sure why, and will probably never care to know.


When Vivien wrote the Do’s and Don’t of Colour, she might as well have said, “Don’t be like this guy” with a finger pointing at me.

I can navigate a color wheel, but I have no idea where I’m going. After a while the colors start to all blend in together and I can’t tell magenta from cyan.

With color, I need help and I need help bad. Fortunately there are many great tools out there to help the color challenged out there.

And speaking of color, if you really want to start sounding like a designer, use the cooler and more elegant word “colour”.

The Golden Ratio

The Golden wha? I came across the Golden Ratio while reading through a post on WordPress themes and content layout. Up to that point, I had only heard of “The Golden Rule” and “The Golden Eggs.”

The “Golden Ratio”, if I’m interpreting it correctly, is the size of one element when compared to an adjacent element. If I’m wrong, forgive me. I’m not a designer.


If I was barely treading water in the first five points, the “Print” point is where I start putting on my cement boots.

A few days ago I began reading the three devastating mistakes every designer will make. The points?

  • Submitting incorrectly setup files such as ppi (pixels per inch?), color mode, and file type.
  • Sending RGB images to the printer. Ooops.
  • Submitting low-res images. You mean, the Flickr ones won’t do? Damn.

I could relate to some of the points, but definitely not the first one where it talked about file setup. I’ve never done a print job. I probably never will. Once again, I’m not a designer!

The Clients

Remember my new best friend? He wants to be my client. But what he doesn’t know is I have no clue how to handle one. I don’t know what to charge, and frankly, I can think of other people way more qualified than myself.

I don’t want to have to deal with contracts, money collecting, or people stiffing me. I don’t want to deal with changing requirements, scope creep, or maintenance.

So rather than pretend that I’m a real designer and take on clients, I accept reality and tell them to move on.


And my final point has to deal with graphic design terminology.

What the heck is a CMYK? Isn’t that a clothing line? “No!” a real graphic designer would say. “If you had only read the graphic design glossary, you would have realized it stood for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black.”

Yes, it irritates me when people don’t know what a PSD or AI are, but what about when someone says, “Hey, do you have that in EPS?” I would stare at them absolutely clueless.


So as you can imagine, my new best friend is now my new ex-best friend. I told him I wasn’t a designer and I wasn’t going to design his lovely new website or new logo.

“I’m sorry.” I told him, “I’m just not a designer.”

This is an entry for the $5000+ PRIZE GIVEAWAY – Graphic Design Group Writing Project on Just Creative Design. The deadline is March 4th, 2008 if you are interested in taking part.

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19 Insightful Bits in response to “8 Things That Intimidate Me About Graphic Design”

  1. Hehehe, that was really enjoyable, Ronald (even if you are totally bashing my profession :P ). Can’t tell magenta from cyan, eh? Perhaps you are color blind, not design illiterate! But making so many references to Creative Curio (I’m quite flattered!) means that you must care, at least a little bit! You were the first to Stumble the glossary, after all! :D If you ever want to know answers to graphic designy stuff, just ask, I’d be happy to help!

  2. @Lauren,

    Maybe I should have titled the post, “8 things about Creative Curio that Intimidate me.”

    I’ve learned a lot from your site, and personally I could stand to learn a lot more. So don’t think I’m bashing on your profession too hard :)

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Naw, it was all in good fun! I’m so pleased that you are learning a lot from Creative Curio!! If there’s ever anything you’d like to see me write about, please do ask! I’m always on the look out for good post ideas :D

  4. I wouldn’t say print scares me Ronald, but I am certainly apprehensive about it.

    I don’t consider myself a designer either, just someone with a little knowledge about websites. I don’t own anything made by Apple at all, so I can’t be.

  5. hehe… glad you found this read enjoyable, Lauren. :-)
    Ronald wasn’t bashing Graphic Design nor Designers, and all his exaggerations here were part of humour. If he was bashing anyone here that’s himself not being able to see the difference between cyan and magenta and the nuances of type :-)
    Ronald, thanks for another great guest appearance here. I look forward to more of your congenial posts on Inspiration Bit.
    oh, perhaps next time you should write a post titled: “8 Articles I’d Like To See On Creative Curio” ;-)

  6. Vivien, yes, I see that Ronald can be very sarcastic! And like that idea of 8 Articles I’d Like to See on CC! It would give me some more ideas and make things that are so useful to the readers! :D But then, sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know and you need someone with a little more experience to let you know ;) But you all have heard me say a hundred times that I would love to hear any ideas you have for articles.

    I’ll stop promoting my blog now… thanks for the space, Vivien!

  7. Andrew, I didn’t mean to miss your comment – looks like we were replying here almost at the same time.
    That’s funny you said – you can’t be a designer since you don’t own anything made by Apple. :-) I see lots of teenagers listening to their iPods, but I’m sure that only a handful of them are designers or will ever become one, so that’s definitely not an indication ;-)
    That reminded me of one of my students who asked me what kind of a Mac user I am, if I don’t own an iPod ;-)

  8. Hey, what’s going on here today? Everyone seems to be writing at the same time with me ;-)
    Lauren, I would also add this to what you’ve said:
    sometimes we don’t know what we know until someone else points out what they don’t know what we think everyone knows ;-)

  9. You don’t have to love Apple to be design here, but it helps?

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. More please. You’ve managed to share quite a bit about Graphic Design, despite your tongue being in your cheek.

    What the heck is a CMYK? Isn’t that a clothing line?

    Priceless :)

  11. Andrew, I can’t say that owning an Apple helps to design. Sometimes I think that it actually makes it harder – things look so nice on my Mac, and the minute I look at my designs on PC, I shrug. ;-)

    John, I’m very glad you didn’t get offended by “i don’t love typography” part linking to iLT ;-) but then you wouldn’t be you if you did get offended by that ;-)

  12. Excellent article, Ronald. Great stuff.

    I’m a graphic designer, and can say not to worry one bit about the hardware you use. After all, the most important tool for graphic design is your brain, and excellent graphic designers were still around long before the mass market of computers.

  13. Haha, Vivien, that is so true! Many times I’ve just assumed everyone knows x or y only to find out that’s it’s not so!

    And for the record, I hate Apple and I’m a designer (though I’m ashamed to admit, I do have an iPod… but it was a gift!!!)

  14. Wow! Thank you for all your comments!

    I think I’m in the same boat, but you seem to know a lot more about websites than I do. I suppose it’s a never-ending process of keeping skills up to date.

    Thanks for having me. I really enjoy your audience/readers.

    I’m sarcastic on occasion :)
    I’m just now getting into InDesign so I can work on an e-book for Peeve Week 3. Perhaps pointers to beginner tutorials or an e-book primer? Just a thought.

    @Andrew again,
    Nah, you can design on Windows too. I know some very talented graphics people that swear off Apple hardware like it was the fall of man.

    I’m glad you liked my CMYK comment. I like writing these kind of articles, so hopefully I’ll have another idea shortly.

    Thanks a lot. Gives me confidence in my lack of assets so-to-speak. Sometimes I wish I was as creative as other graphic designers since I can’t dream stuff out of nowhere, but I do make an attempt.

  15. Seriously, what intimidate me a lot about Graphic Design is PRINTING.

    You may have your design masterpiece on your workspace desktop monitor, but when you put the wrong settings for the printing stage… just have a little bit patient for that LOL. “what you see is not what you are getting”.

    Thank you Ronald for sharing them ;)

  16. Audee, Since I started designing for Web, print design was a bit intimidating for me at first as well. I remember I was asking my friend-graphic designer to explain me the difference between processed and spot colours, and how should I prepare the artwork for my business card – my first print work.
    Lauren, perhaps you could talk about that on CreativeCurio as well? ;-)

    David, very well said – “the most important tool for graphic design is your brain”. I would’ve added – and the eye. But then everything we see is processed through our brain, so you’re still right about that ;-)

    Ronald, it’s a pleasure having you as my guest writer here. I hope you don’t mind if I share this little secret with others:
    Do you know that Ronald had an option of posting this very article on Devlounge but he asked me if I would publish it here. When I told him that I would love to, but my blog is not as popular as DL, and that it would get more exposure on DL than mine, Ronald answered: “I don’t care about exposure. I like your audience.”
    I think it’s the best compliment I’ve received about my blog :-) So thanks everyone!

  17. Vivien, I would be glad to talk about printing on CC! I’ve talked a bit about it, but there’s always more. I’m always learning and I love to share that with everyone.

    And Audee, I totally know how you feel! I still feel intimidated by the printing process… and it is different for every printer I’ve worked with. Some are very easy to approach, ask questions, etc, and some act like I should know everything and get my file to them properly the first time (I never work with those ones again!).

  1. $5000 Prize Giveaway Graphic Design Group Writing Project

    [...] 8 Things That Intimidate Me About Graphic Design – Submitted by Ronald on Viviens Blog. [...]

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on