Where would you rather work?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by benneh, May 7, 2007.

  1. benneh macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2006
    Hi all,

    THis is my question: Where would you rather work at?
    • A studio, specialising in design
    • In house designer for company in another field - e.g. web designer for Honda

    I just want to lay out some thoughts from what I've observed. Feel free to add any of your own (or disagree with mine).

    Design studios
    PRO - You get the chance to be fully creative. Able to work with various styles and medium. You may get cool and fun clients to work with, and sometimes the job is very rewarding. May get to work with very talented designers and fun co-workers.

    CON - Most studios are short on cash, or broke. Don't expect great pay or a company car, or overseas trips in business class. For small studios you may have to do small high-quantity pain-in-ass jobs for high turnover. Unpaid overtime isn't new. Christmas party is usually family meal from KFC.

    In house to a company
    PRO - Better pay? Better perks. Bigger christmas party. Work with larger number of people, and you may network yourself better in other industry apart from just design. Depends on how cool your company is, you may have fun (a friend who works at Honda gets to borrow cars for weekends). If its your thing, you could go hours without having a task to do. And of course, the name - how good would you sound if you tell your friends you work for BMW or PricewaterhouseCoopers or Fly Emirates

    CON - You could get bored to tears. Design wise, you're limited to company's branding and palette. You may be the one of two in-house desigers, doing tasks such as updating ad banners on a site, or changing images on brochures. Don't expect to do big projects like latest advertising campaign, those are for studios ;). You may be surrounded by pretentous co-workers in pin-stripe business suits.

    Which do you fancy? Limitless creativity or better pay? Rock up to work looking respected smart casual, or whatever the hell you feel like?
  2. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    while not a designer. the best advice is work where you'll be the happiest. simple as that.
  3. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    Oh, so all I need to do is apply the "happy test" and answer the OP's question?

    How do you know which place you'll be happiest?
  4. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    depends on what you need to make your life happy.
    if you need and want the creativity over anything else. then thats the important factor. if you'd rather have the 'security' because you're a constant worrier, then go for the other one. or perhaps its not so clear cut. you have to weight the pros and cons of each job and see what fits for your own personality. but i'd say take the job that will make you happier over anything else. if you're not happy at your job things will just be 10x worse. i know this is just my opinion.
  5. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    i think the OP is making gross generalizations about in-house and studio employment that are not true for either of them, so i would question strongly his "pros" and "cons" list; almost all of the things listed can be true of either kind of employer depending on who you are working for.

    i prefer to work for a studio because you can get your mind into many, many industries and professions and become something of an expert in them. in my experience the pay is just fine and the perks can be exceptional; one studio i am looking to work with had their christmas party in Barcelona last year, the whole studio flew out there for a week between xmas + new years (on the studio's dime). KFC my ass.

    and i agree with the above that ultimately you need to choose a job by how it makes you feel not by how it pays; tho this can be hard to do.
  6. iGav macrumors G3

    Mar 9, 2002
    Understatement of the year.

    Though for the record, I'd never, ever, ever be an in-house designer. ;)
  7. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2004
    Calgary, AB
    Lol, well I've done both, and the in house position paid MUCH less than any of the studios/agencies I've worked for.

    Which is better? I have a slight preference for in house just because I found I had more say in the creative direction of projects (eg: no art director to answer to, no other designers to "compete" with for the cool projects". But I make more with the studios and I get to work with some very talented people who force me to step up my own game.

    So... given the choice between the two? Depends on the company and the offer on the table really.
  8. radiantm3 macrumors 65816


    Oct 16, 2005
    San Jose, CA
    I'm pretty sick of working for studios. I think freelancing is a better alternative as you get to choose your own clients, and have ultimate control over client interaction. And I should mention that this is of more importance in the web design/development field specifically.

    However, with that said, I'm currently working in-house for a company (can you guess?) and for the most part, I love it. I think it depends on who the company is and if you enjoy the products or services that they produce. The company I work for has a very creative culture and so I feel at home there. Just like I'd rather work for Apple than some studio as I believe in the products they produce.

    Considering you have the chance to work for a company that you love, the only major drawback I can see is being constrained by the brand itself.
  9. eyeon macrumors regular

    Apr 7, 2004
    Montana, USA
    I currently work as an in-house designer (the only one, for my company) and in all honesty I can't wait to get out. I'm also in the process of setting up a design firm with some business partners and I am exploding with excitement to see how that world differs from the one I am in.

    The one thing I look forward to most is being in a work environment with other creative minds who are trained and experienced in my specific field. I am excited to finally be able to think outside the box, as in my experience, being the in-house designer, there's not a whole lot of room for much creativity.
  10. Billy101 macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2007
    I'd rather be in a studio specializing in design.
  11. 7on macrumors 601


    Nov 9, 2003
    Dress Rosa
  12. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    I work in-house as part of a team of three designers, some web people, project managers, and editors.

    What makes my situation slightly more interesting is that within the organisation are a number of sub-groups that have their own distinctive branding so I'm not just doing one kind of corporate stuff all day long.

    Pros: Being almost unique and highly visible within the organisation. Big fish in little pond. High degree of autonomy with control of print buying and hardware/software budget.

    Cons: Meetings and bureaucracy, repetitive work, dealing with people and managers ignorant and unappreciative of design and production processes and needs, less likely to explore new media and software, strict and damaging demarcation between web and print.
  13. miniConvert macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2006
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    I employ two in-house designers.

    I try and offer them very varied work. We're not tied down to a single brand, as we like to launch our products with their own identities. There's a mixture of print and web based design, with web based design ranging from entire websites, including logos and sometimes even names, to internal and external user interface design.

    I'd like to think that the employees exist in a comfortable and multi-skilled environment where they feel like a valued asset of the company. I'd like to to think that, as we're an SME, they can see and admire their work as the face of our business.

    I know folk in in-house jobs for very large companies who spend most of their time altering pages and changing banners, and that can be exceptionally boring after a while. But I think there must be other SME's like us who offer quite a unique experience for designers.

    Hopefully, then, the decision to be in-house or design studio would depend on the in-house position or design studio in question. Ok, some generalisations can be drawn, but there's no value to the discussion unless we're comparing specifics.
  14. Abraxsis macrumors 6502


    Sep 23, 2003
    I'm for in house ... but before I go on let me give a background. I am the sole in house designer (read: Art Director) for a small, but succesful, toy company. I am entirely self taught seeing my 2 BSs and my MS is in social sciences and I never had an art class. I kinda just fell into this position right out of college, being hired in as an assistant, and now less than 2 years later I control all aspects of design and art for the company. I create product designs, packaging, hangtags, sales flyers, web images, etc etc from A to Z. If I dont have time to do it myself, I have a group of loyal toy industry oriented freelancers at my disposal. Not to give away secrets but listen up. The toy industry is a highly specialized career, one that once youre indoctrinated, youre just about promised a job from that point on if youre a hard worker. If I quit my job tomorrow, I could have 5 interviews lined up in 5 different citys in 5 different countries by the end of next week. Now THATS good job security ... and its a BLAST. Bonus: Youll always be one of the best moms/dads on your child's career day :)

    Being self taught gives me a unique perspective for your question because frankly it is my opinion that no studio would hire me, regardless of my 250+ item in-market packaging portfolio (not crappy stuff mind you, lol). I dont follow rules because I have never been taught them. I am what you might call a designer loose cannon. I color outside the lines (figuratively speaking of course), and i follow few guidelines. But I think it makes me a better, and more creative, person/designer. I despise rules :cool:

    Because of these facts, i would say to split the difference between your two choices. Find a med. sized company where you would be the sole designer and take the middle of the road pay. In the long run your autonomy will help save your sanity, and being given the run of things helps in your learning process and creative process. You might not being buying a Leer jet anytime soon, but youll still get a few perks to make it all worth it.

    Just my 2 cents.
  15. ATD macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2005
    I have worked for both, mostly on the design studio side. I would disagree with the notion that there was less money in the studio side. The design studios I have worked for were very lucrative, generally far better than in house positions. The trade off was they were very high pressure jobs.

    To answer the question I'm happier working for myself.

    Pros: I pursue the type of work I want to do. I only have to please my client, no internal politics to deal with. I have chosen to work with clients I like, I know very well and work well with.

    Cons: I have to be on top of everything. It a bit of a roller coaster, some weeks I'm putting in 18 hour days and having to turn down work. The following week may be 3 hour days. I have a very hard time planning anything, getting that 7:30 friday night call from a client is not uncommon.
  16. grimmace macrumors regular

    Feb 9, 2003

    I say that age plays a big role here. I would say that out of school you are more prone to want to build your portfolio. A studio is the place to be. Not to mention that they are mostly sweat shops and you're working lots of hours. As I get older I am glad to be in-house and an AD. The cash is great and there is less work because you are governed to the corporate design standards. Hopefully ones that you actually produced in the first place. There comes a time when you have this decision to make regarding studio or inhouse. Most people will start freelancing after a certain age because studios tend to layoff the ones making the most after a long period of time. An in-house can stay as long as they like, especially if they are the sole ones doing the work. I disagree with one comment that studios will take care of the more design oriented things. In my case, I do it all for a corporation of 2000+. Trade shows, web, print, data etc. So perhaps its the large corporation that you should choose. At least if you stick around, you are more stable at an older age rather than in a studio. Not to mention after say 10 years in the business, your portfolio is already set up and you'll have that mortgage to pay. I'll have to call myself the worrier on this one. :eek:
  17. bluetooth macrumors 6502a


    May 1, 2007
    In my experience, In-house pays less then Studio. I am in complaince with those that are pro freelance. Working for yourself allows you to explore the projects that interest you most. The only drawback is the schedule and stability. On average, a successful freelancer will make a salary equivalent to that of a senior designer or art director in a studio (70-80k ^). A senior designer in an in-house company will make an average of 45-55k but will also have other incentives such as perdium for travel, benefits etc. These figures are based on a recent article I read.

    I for one, second the notion that not having to deal with a daily commute and office politics a huge plus.
  18. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    Ah yes... the benefits. Work paid me full pay for 4 months a couple of years ago when I was off for surgery. I'm also entitled to a sabbatical and have other benefits as well.

    Tried freelancing some years ago, but found it hard to drum up new work, meet with existing clients, and yet find the time to get the work done... I also go a bit stir-crazy cooped up, I enjoy the buzz of working in a largish organisation and the office politics can also be a intriguing challenge. At times... ;)

    I don't mind the commute either; I plan the day and think of ideas while navigating the Tube with my iPod. :)
  19. B&Wtoon macrumors regular


    Sep 29, 2006
    suits you

    large agencies/studios can suck the creative life out of you as well.

    Most of them have layers of suits, directors, account handlers, senior blablabla, etc, that when you put your portfolio together you can never hand on heart say that you ‘did that’ as it all done by various teams/creatives/artworkers. – good financial rewards and career opportunities.

    Smaller studios will let you do it all from first client meeting, creative, artwork, print handling – a hard slog but a buzz.

    Once you are in a chosen sector it can be very difficult to get out and change to another so make your choice wisely as the first steps can set/ruin your career path.

    Go around/visit them you'll be suprised how many will give you portfolio crits and show you around – they were there once. If all goes well ask if any chance of employment, etc

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