Design Disclaimer Part I
There are often unwritten and un-Googable rules about the field of graphic design. Sometimes I don’t know whether to feel blessed or cursed. So I decided to create a section on my blog where I write about my personal experiences, failures and hard-learned lessons I have experienced in my fifteen years of experience. These conversations occur with my design friends but I feel like these conversations need to be open to everyone who is looking for answers from a real designer.
Design tests for jobs
I recently got approached by a popular dating-app for an Art Director role. My first interview was via a zoom call, (video call) with the Senior Creative Director. The chat went well enough to move forward to the next step in the interview process. On the call I learned that the company was trying to move away from hiring top-notch agencies like Wieden+Kennedy and 72andSunny to work on their marketing campaigns because they are so expensive.
When I got contacted by the recruiter for part II of the interview, they told me that a design test is required. The design test asked for a summer campaign (how convenient I thought) to target gen-z and to encourage them to download and sign up for the dating app.
I was so let down because in my head I’m like, “WTF am I not good enough?!” So I sent an email asking the recruiter if there is anything in my professional portfolio/website that did not showcase my fifteen years of experience. And I ended it by stating that typically tests are asked of junior-level designers straight out of college with no professional work experience.
The Senior Creative Director responds to me with an apology email and a long explanation saying that in tech, every field has a test: engineers, designers, copywriters, etc. Ok, fine, so now I felt bad, and decided, fuck it, I’ll just to the damn test. And if worse comes to worst, I’ll just use the designs as Instagram posts.
The campaign process
Below is the entire design campaign, I blocked out the brand and the logos to keep this confidential but I bet you can guess who the brand is lol.
I love to show the process of my ideas because it shows to the client where my ideas come come from.
Here is the entire campaign is broken down into print and digital formats. Some of the creative was recycled from the art show I did in New York. See previous post. I just changed the colors to match the brand.
I created different personas of myself using personal experiences or things I have read online etc.
This is what the entire campaign looks like with the print and digital formats combined together.
I found out the VP of Partnerships was going to be in my presentation the day before the interview so I created a concept for him based on the above campaign.
Key Take-aways from doing design tests
If you like the company and really want to work there, before you begin the design test, ask about the salary compensation for that position before you waste your time and effort on the work.
Typically a design test should not be a real-life scenario of the business, and if the test is related to the business then before you present your work, hand out NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) to everyone in the room and have them sign it.
I have learned that companies who do not have the budget for high-end ad agencies are now posting jobs online and are asking for “design tests” to steal the creative direction instead of paying professionals for their ideas, creative execution, and efforts.
I am not going to spin this off like it was a positive experience, because it was a complete waste of my fucking time! I spent my entire weekend concepting and making original content, and then worked overtime at night after my 9-5 job to make this design test. Not to mention, I took a day off of work to interview with the team for 5 hours. I was extremely disappointed and felt like I was fucked over. I don’t want to close this by saying I would never do a design test again, because who knows what the future holds? But I would advise companies to hire designers as freelancers/contractors and pay them for their time before they hire them full-time. It’s like dating: both parties are getting to know each other, and if there is mutual agreement-then put a mother-fucking ring on it.