What Will the New Decade Bring Designers?
Risks to watch out for and opportunities to snag
I have the best worst timing. But my long and successful career has been catapulted by that bad timing.
In the early 2000s, I graduated college and went looking for my first salaried design job. The dot-com bubble had just burst. There were layoffs everywhere, especially in design. I was going up for entry-level jobs laying out grocery store ads against creative directors from the biggest and most prestigious ad agencies in town. This taught me perseverance, how to stay organized, and the grit to stick it out and find a design job (some of my fellow graduates did not).
Fast forward to more bad timing. I quit my corporate in-house design job in 2008 at the height of the recession and started my first design and technology firm. People thought I was insane for walking away from a sure thing and into the unknown in a volatile economy. This taught me how to find the hidden opportunities, how to run lean, and how to find a competitive advantage in a barren landscape.
As I start 2020, I have just formed a new design firm called Anchor & Alpine. It is the result of a merger and acquisition of three firms. As we embark, I’m the one at the helm, trying to steer the course, mitigate the threats, and find the opportunities.
This is my list of three threats to mitigate and three opportunities to capture as we designers embark on 2020.
Three threats to designers in 2020
I am on the lookout for a recession. All the old-timers are. Especially those of us who were active in the industry in 2007–2009. You can control a lot of things about your business, but recession isn’t one of them. With any downturn in the economy, design and marketing are some of the first departments to be cut.
How to mitigate a recession risk: While departments get cut in a recession, small and nimble agencies can still flourish. Design still happens, just at a different scale; companies may not be able to take on the liability of a full creative staff, but they’ll still have a budget for contractors. Keep your portfolio current, keep your professional network strong, and keep…