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Talent is Not Enough – Ch. 1-2

30 September 2014

All throughout our college careers we have always listened to our professors tell stories of “the real world” and just how different Design careers are from other jobs in the creative field. We might flinch at the mention of client work and the horror stories of other designers, but we never really are taught how one should go about things when we graduate. Reading Perkins’ “Talent is Not Enough” is an eye-opening experience that not only exactly outlines how different creative professions work, but also how to take on the challenge of moving into a professional career in a very clear and detailed manner. It is the perfect supporting material to go along with our Practices of Design class and the things we have learned since we started.


In chapter one, I particularly  enjoyed Perkins’ breakdown of the types of potential employers one might have as a design professional and the responsibilities that come with each. While these topics have come up throughout the years, I have never been exposed to such a detailed description of what is out there for me once I graduate. In addition, the mention of the level of preparedness designers need to have for each position is infinitely helpful in determining the types of jobs one might want to look for and what best matches our set of skills. The fact that one does not need to be a specialist right from the start is somewhat relieving but at the same time unnerving in the sense that in order to be able to compete, one must have impeccable skill sets such as talent, methodology, technical skills, people skills, and business skills. 

“It’s important to get yourself onto the right path that is the best match for your interests, talents, and temperament – one that will give you opportunities for personal growth and satisfaction”

Whether I’d like to admit it or not, there is a certain amount of hesitation and lack of confidence when it comes to determining if what I’m doing now is enough to prepare me for what lies ahead. I’m sure others feel just as insecure about their skills and if they will be enough to help them compete with all the talent that is out there. But there is also a small level comfort, specially when something that Perkins says matches something that we have been told before or that we already knew. But what perhaps stood out to me the most is the mindset that a design creative should have when first starting out a career and that will allow them to grow the most, This includes knowing what kind of work you ant to be involved in and making sure that it matches your own interests. It’s easy to get stuck in the flow of something that, while it might be good experience, it might not be the best career choice or something that you want to be stuck doing for a long time and not really enjoy as much. It is important to stay flexible and allow opportunities to come your way and weigh in the pros and cons of what they can give you. It is naive to think that there will only be one job for us in the future and that things won’t change from one moment to the other.


Following the theme of the challenges and opportunities that lie past graduation, Perkins then goes on to give the most complete, comprehensive, and insightful set of advice for designers I have ever laid eyes upon. From job search to getting the job, chapter 2 packs an infinite amount of information that could take weeks to find online in just one chapter. The sheer amount of resources is enough to make one put up a shrine for this man and his blessed soul and generosity. From figuring out how to charge and negotiate a salary that is at the level of modern standards, to specific places where to find a job in the field, everything you will ever need to find, apply to, and getting a job is packed into a single chapter. It all gives you a complete image of how the machine works and the buttons one needs to press in order to make it work for you.

But for all that is given there are also some aspects that tend to be repetitive and maybe unnecessary. Such are the nature of the work one might be exposed to and how small businesses compare to large enterprises in the handling of such and the amount of risks they are willing to take. These and other subjects are also covered in an already clustered and information-filled chapter. I came to treasure the advice for young designers and to skim through a description of the risks that studios and agencies take in relation to their size and the stakes that are at play. There is a lot of technical advice that, while helpful and detailed, might seem a bit unnecessary or too in depth for subjects that are believed to be common knowledge like the size of business cards and what a cover letter is. There comes a point where you begin to wonder if you are reading a book meant for designers or for people who don’t know what the size of an envelope should be. But for every sentence on paper sizes there are twice as many on subjects that no designer ever hears before confronting the professional world.

Just two chapters in one begins to realize the gold mine of information that this books represents for making that next step and putting all he skills we have learned in practice. The business part of the title begins to shine through and overshadow the intimate and personal advice for designers but not before giving a wake up call about what really lies ahead and how to be prepared for it.