10 things to know about the Creative Design Career in Nigeria
Hmmmm.. Nigeria.. The name that sends shivers down the spine of any Dele and Giwa who has managed to “escape” the country, but still toggles at his heart for a re-union. It’s a love-hate relationship he experiences. He longs to go back home, but remembers that his land is only for the fittest or the one who can endure through the struggle in the pursuit for happiness. Struggling and smiling, or was it suffering and smiling?
All is not doom and gloom though in Nigeria, even though the recession has seen businesses hit, and companies cutting down on expenses or going bankrupt, one particular industry continues to thrive. Enter, the Nigerian Advertising Industry!
Advertising at its minutest form is all about creating awareness about the existence of anything (brand, product etc.). But of course, you do not just create any random garri (commodity), place it by the road side and call it a product. Similarly, one cannot just call any finished good that is packaged and ready for sale, a brand.
A brand is what you make consumers long for, a product is what consumer’s need. A commodity is just naked product with no clothing. In Nigeria, they are cheap. They are everywhere like oranges, cassava and tomato – well, until recently.
The role of a Creative designer (Digital, Graphic etc.) is half the job of creating a longing or follower- ship for any product aspiring to be a brand and as such would always remain a lucrative career to thread. Although in all honesty, how much you are paid per deliverables/ salary depends on how you much branding you as a Creative Designer undergoes. It is not a given though. It is no invitation to creating Awilo (quack) designs and expect to be paid the big bucks.
But here are 10 things to know about the Creative design World here in Nigeria before embarking on a career in Creative Design.
01 Your clients are like a pendulum
You know what that means right.. They swing here and there largely because they do not know what they want. They do however know what they do not want.
But here’s how Idris handles his clients’.. he makes a couple of designs and shows them each from worst to best, and asking for their opinion to know if they really know what they want. (Warning- do not try this at home)
02. Forget about what you want
You work for the client. And that includes him telling you what he wants. I know.. sounds dictatorial, right. But yeah, except you step your game up big time, by perfecting your trade and producing really great designs and deliverables such that the bigger boys notice you or your works, you are largely going to be tossed around. If not forget about that special design you carefully created. It’s not about what you want.
03. Money talks, terrible clients talk louder
The clients that pay you more don’t give you problems cos they know the worth and value of a good design. But the one’s who talk more, often happen to be the one on very low budget wanting to maximize every kobo. You’ll die doing revisions, we can authoritatively tell you. You’ll know them when you see them.
Avoid them by all means, or have maybe not more than 1 or 2 clients on that category.
04. Pick the kind of clients you want to work with
If you don’t have that luxury, work harder, until you can pick the type of clients you want. It doesn’t come easy.
05. Get deposit first
You’ll hear things like, “we have plans for you or your agency and we intend growing together.” Some, especially the small firms would ask you for free designs or samples of what you can do by making some assignment they give to you. Even bigger firms e.g. Sainsbury once performed a stunt as that, promising that the designer with the best design, an opportunity to grow on their platform and gaining publicity. Newsflash- how about pay them money which would help them grow!!
But more commonly, as individual/ freelance designer you’ll get jobs from the smaller firms demanding for free samples of your job. But working for bigger brands/ companies, they more often than not pay for your services. So morale is look for the bigger companies, but get your advance payments from smaller clients, if they come calling.
06. You have to love working long hours
Yes, creatives seem to live a carefree, crazy life. Don’t be cajoled into thinking it’s all fun with how they dress to work, what time they resume or so, sometimes, if not most times, they work late into the night using the gradient tool to find that perfect blend or the lasso tool to cut out an image, and afterwards the refine edge tool. Well, these days, Adobe has made using their software a lot easier. But then, creativity means creating new value from something old. It’s bringing the future into the present. That takes a lot of training to see things differently, even with everyone staring hopelessly at it.
07. Place serious emphasis on building your Portfolio
Your portfolio is your million dollars. It’s the key to your doors of opportunity. It’s all you’ve got and what you can call yours. It’s your gold in dust.. It’s your.. I’m sure you get the point. Build your portfolio with great zeal.
08. Clients give you the jobs with deadline from hell.
They give you jobs and expect final copy like they were making demanding for photocopies from Xerox. Even Xerox is dead.
09. You can work in any company, if you want.
As long as they want to make profits, they’ll have to advertise and you as a Visual Communications person, Graphic Designer or whatever job title you carry have an opportunity there. If they don’t make profits, why would you want to work there?
Another luxury being a digital designer is the ability to work alone or team with other friends with similar or complementary skills. Actually, that’s all it takes to form an advertising agency.. a group of individuals with complementary skills (a digital designer, a copywriter, an art director, a strategist, a client service person with connections or good communication skills and a lot of luck)
10. As you’ll have noticed…
You live for the client and it’s no symbiotic love. It’s dictatorial. You’ll forever belong in his kitchen. But if done right, you can start your own eatery and dish for the bigger boys. The boys who buy a plate of your meal for N5,000.. Scratch that.. for $5,000!
Everyday your design skills get better, but you gotta do everyday. And that there is the hard part, but it does get easier everyday.
Keep calm, bury your head in your designs and keep creating.
Do you agree with these 10 points stated above or have alternative views, opinions or suggestions as regards pursuing a Creative Design Career in Nigeria. We would love to read from you. Pls comment in the section below.
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Words: Aziz Sadiku
Aziz is a Brand/Marketing Strategist with several years of work experience. You can send him a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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