Think for a minute about what led you to where you are today, career-wise. If you are in a design related field, did you become a designer because you wanted to help shape and build the content around you? Were you attracted to design from an early age?
One of the greatest debates of all time surrounding any creative field is the question of innate talent versus learned skills. In other words, are you born to be a designer, or can the necessary skills to succeed be taught? This is, of course, a major point of contention between artists and designers as some feel that they are either naturally artistic, or are self-taught, while others have gone to design or art school to hone their skills. This typically requires one to attend college, which costs money, of course. But it can be argued that it is an investment in your future that will lay the groundwork for a successful career. So which is better – innate, learned, both, or neither?
Since this debate has been raging for some time, there are a lot of thoughts on the matter. A few working designers offer their thoughts in this article from an online colleges site, which happens to offer design programs. However, though their thoughts tended to skew toward the “innate” argument, both do have design training. Yet it is perfectly possible that some people just have more of an eye for design than others. As one of the designers interviewed for that article states, “We are constantly bombarded by digital images … if designing were based wholly upon training, wouldn’t we all be experts through exposure alone?”
By this argument, designers who are not naturally artistically inclined would be at a disadvantage to those who are “born with it.”
Conversely, there are myriad other arguments in favor of training as the more important factor. Some designers (and developers, and artists, and communicators) believe that while talent is certainly something you can be born with, it is ongoing training and skill development that wins out over just aptitude and talent. Even if you didn’t go to school for design or art, there’s a good chance you keep up on industry blogs, attend conferences, and more to continue to hone your skills as the design landscape changes. This training, according to some, is just as if not more important than being “born with it.” If design can then be taught, it would make sense that those with the most dedication to their studies and commitment to achievement would be the most successful.
Yet perhaps it is a combination of the two that yields the greatest designers – a lot of talent and a lot of training melded together. And of course, it can’t be denied that a passion for great design and the ambition to create your best work every day are characteristics of every phenomenal designer.
What are your thoughts? Do you think you’re more of an innate designer, a trained one, or a combination? What’s the number one skill a designer must have?