Coming to grips with the fact that I am no longer a Visual Designer.

over 7 years ago from , Ask about me.

It's been a long time coming. Over the summer I have had to accept the fact that I am no longer a Designer. In my heart at least. I started my career in graphic design at 15. Designing rave flyers for techno events in my hometown of New Orleans, LA. By the time I was 19 I had a full fledged web studio with 4 employees in the back of the office of my grandfather's real estate company. Complete with beer fridge and hammocks, way before startup culture was trendy. By my 25th birthday I had worked for a number of well established web-studios and had a hefty client list under my belt. At 30 I decided to devote my life to working exclusively for charities. Non-profits are always the last place you find great design because they can rarely compete with the salaries offered in the private sector. Now on the eve of my 35th birthday I am composing what I think will be my last digital style guide. There is paper explaining our online typography and color options for our UI spread all over my office. But I know in my heart that I have taken this as far as I can and it's time to move on.

Next Wednesday I have an interview for a new position that is outside of the design field. My idea, as it stands now, is to take the process I use to make great visual products and apply it to other areas of our business. I know this isn’t a new idea but I hope it's something that will give my organization a fresh lens to see problems though. I also think it's something that almost twenty years of design experience has been preparing me for this whole time.

Just thought I would share the moment.


  • Nick Dominguez, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Thanks for sharing. I think this is a topic that deserves more attention.For various reasons many designers eventually do "grow out" of the field. Some move into managing other designers, some move into development and still others move into a completely new industry entirely.

    Some people simply lose the passion for design and that's ok. I think a lot of the skills you learn as a designer translate well into other fields. So maybe reading more stories like yours would make us pause and help us to realize that moving out of one chose career path is fine and should be considered.

    Good luck in your new role.

    22 points
    • Kevan LinKevan Lin, over 7 years ago

      For my own curiosity, what are these skills that designers have that translate well to other industries? A few off the top of my mind is the ability to (quickly) generate ideas, problem solving, ability to track to a due date. My list is not exhaustive by any means.

      1 point
      • Nick Dominguez, over 7 years ago

        I would say It depends on your own personal experience as a designer. A few I can think of off the top of my head might be: user testing, sketching, ideation, design thinking, etc.

        0 points
        • Jonas GothJonas Goth, over 7 years ago

          I think the ability to solve problems is one of the core competencies we develop the most as designers, which effectively translates into any other professional context future on.

          2 points
  • Garrett Campagna, over 7 years ago

    If you don't mind me asking, what is the new job you'll be doing?

    13 points
  • Jared KrauseJared Krause, over 7 years ago

    Why you gotta leave us hanging like that? What's the new career??

    5 points
  • Ilya Belikin, over 7 years ago

    Congratulations on the transition! I have somewhat opposite story when for 15 years of my career I was a product manager or a developer and finally come to the point when I realize that what I do nowadays is design. Not visual design, but design in broader meaning of this word. I guess you are going to do design too even if your name card going to tell something that looks completely different for some people around.

    1 point
  • Giulio MichelonGiulio Michelon, over 7 years ago

    Good luck!

    1 point
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 7 years ago

    I crossed the same path. I started at 15, designing magazines, flyers and starting to code HTML 2 websites. Now I am product owner, a completely different things from the visual aspect of the product, I enjoy it but I still love to design.

    1 point
  • Ted McDonald, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Thanks for sharing Matt. I started to lose interest in purely practicing visual design and gravitate towards programming myself. I'll probably find a happy medium someday.

    1 point
  • René Stalder, over 7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, Matt. I'm quite in a similar position and even you don't share much about your indentions of why you have to move on, I understand you. I wish you all the best on your new path.

    0 points
  • Trev MorrisTrev Morris, over 7 years ago

    I don't think you'll stop being a 'designer'. I believe design is a mindset. We're problem solvers and are very good at looking at the big picture as well as the small, you'll just be applying what you know as a designer to something new, as you've said.

    You've given us something of an Inception-like cliff-hanger as to what you're doing next!?

    0 points
  • Tristan HarwardTristan Harward, over 7 years ago

    You're still a designer. You're just going to apply design to various other things, that are, from many perspectives, more important and of greater value to people. Best of luck.

    0 points
  • Jeremy FordJeremy Ford, over 7 years ago

    Interesting to hear your thoughts on this, Matt. I'm curious to know whether or not you are taking a salary cut to shift into a new field. My understanding is that most employers aren't willing to match your existing salary if you start fresh in a field that you don't yet have much experience in.

    0 points
  • Samir WahabSamir Wahab, over 7 years ago

    Inspiring. Good luck for the future.

    0 points
  • Steve Berry, over 7 years ago

    Yup. Happens. Use the new challenge as motivation!

    0 points