The New Normal

June 20, 2009 at 1:08 pm (Design, economy, unemployment) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Last night we watched part one of the New Normal, a 20/20 special on ABC. One of the stories, Workers Learn New Skills, showed how cotton farmers in Mississippi are now planting corn and beans, and how a former car plant, MasTech, in Manistee County, Michigan has been retooled to produce wind turbine generators (you can have one for around $8K).

What does this have to do with design? Well, as designers we are noticing a trend where we have to adapt, too. Many web companies are no longer looking for that extremely specialized graphics guru who can turn a design over the programmers to figure out how to make it work. They want someone who can design it to look beautiful, and program it to work.

Just like the auto manufacturer who took the welding, machining, and assembling process for cars and repurposed their skills for a new product, I have transformed a bulk of my skill sets to other industries. Where the majority of my design work was in exhibit, set, and environmental graphic design, now the greater part is in logos, branding, and illustration. In addition to just design, I have also transitioned into a Manufacturer’s Representative position at a signage company.

The Plant Manager of MasTech is challenging us to “think the same way.” It’s time to retool and repurpose our skills for the new economy. So go look at previously unthought-of avenues for your skills – I wish you luck.

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