How to be a graphic designer with a vagina

Go to school and excel, make beautiful artifacts and layouts that make professors and colleagues swoon, have everyone say how professional and lovely the work is, only to be overlooked by firms who want someone more tall-white-male-and-cool or hot-ethnic-and-cool than you. Watch your most egotistical and lackluster male classmates get top positions at hip firms while you slave for a couple of jerks whose 90lb dog regularly evacuates 4lb piles in the office because they would wait too long to walk it, or would be too busy with a yelling bouts to notice it needs to go outside. Hide at the Taco Bell gas station down the block with your coworkers while the principals fight it out, then work until 2am to still make the deadline. (No laptop for portable working, cuz you’re poor, boo hoo.)

Find tiny moments of pleasure crafting logos or working typography into beautiful layouts only to have them discounted or picked apart by jealous art director. Work really hard and have your principals constantly undermine you, make comments about your body, promote your brand new male coworker who is a jerk to ‘lead’. Spend months shifting jargon and lines around on an internal Microsoft-enterprise-software-BS marketing plan chart while they squabble internally about the contents. Have your boss and client pixelfuck the living shit out of it until you’re ashamed to tell your family and friends what you’re working on.

Go to meetings with clients you love and have your boss take credit for your work outright or claim to have “art directed” you to the outcome the client is praising after he actually spent his days playing video games and snorting coke off his desk. Wince as your boss tells you he is choosing the completely inexperienced hottie for the project manager position because the competent amazing skilled middle-aged candidate had ‘gross dry old feet’. Suffer through years of terrible project management at the hands of miss hottie who spends more time flirting with the boss than managing the projects.

Have a boss who will spend a half hour telling you how beautiful and amazing what you created is, then dictate where you are to move every single pixel and change every photo and color. Struggle to stay sane while being used as someone else’s wrist.

Work twice as hard as your male peers and never get invited to the poker nights, game nights, bar nights, dinner at bosses house, golfing with the C-suite, company sports teams. Keep your cool while everyone else on your team that was hired after you is given $10-30k bonuses. Just shut up and work harder.

Dress sexier. Dress more professional. Give up and start wearing t-shirts and shorts every day. Decide to try for ambitious again and come in earlier and earlier, dress nicer and work harder. Get called type A and controlling. Dress more casual and be more social. Get crappy reviews for not being enough of a leader. Get simultaneous reviews saying you are being too much of a leader and you need to be more of a team player.

Out of desperation and humiliation, give up trying to advance your career and settle into being an overlooked worker bee only to have them ask you to manage a team (after they made it so miserable that your amazing manager quit), but they’ve also told a guy on your team that he is really the team lead and you’re just a helper or co-lead. Struggle to figure out what they mean while they refuse to clarify even when you offer to back out and let him do the leading since it was clearly what they wanted. Work harder and longer hours. Look around and notice that the VPs and C-suite have something distinct in common… height, male, white.

Double down on your user experience education with endless reading and studying. Watch all your male colleagues get promoted to team leads and VPs while you struggle to make mediocre projects look good for your untalented product/project managers who’ve never considered design or usability. Try to be a craftsman and do excellent work, but get ignored and second guessed.

Go to a year of night school in user experience design because your employer says that will make you ripe for promotion and that they’ll even pay for the schooling. Enroll and pay for the schooling because they are ‘sorting out’ how to pay you back, and then get news that that ten grand is out the window and they aren’t going to pay, and then they hire externally for all of the user experience positions.

Suppress giggles when a manager who thinks his wife’s unskilled opinion on colors and typography are more valuable than your decades of experience. Try not to fall over laughing when a bubble-headed hottie junior designer is assigned to lead your team and overrule your expertise. Have jerk acquaintances joke that your life is such a farce they want to turn it into a comic book.

Decide to be a ‘real artist’ and draw and paint more only to end up with piles of sketchbooks you can’t seem to throw away but are always getting in the way and reminding you what a failure you are as an artist and a designer. Join an online crafters market only to realize that people are mass-producing or buying and reselling similar but poorly made from poor materials items for a fraction of what you’d need to recoup the hours and moolah spent to produce a high quality version. Receive hearty friend praise of your work while simultaneously getting weekly emails from anti-fans or competitors telling you your stuff is ugly and overpriced. Begin to wonder if your friends are liars or if you suck, neither are morale-boosting. Spend hours painting and sketching only to have it pile up in your every drawer and corner, a reminder of how utterly useless it is for you to keep creating.

Get a moment of inspiration to turn some of your favorite sketches into fabric design patterns then realize the website peddling these artistan-created objects will only pay you 10% of what they make and you have to pay them in advance to get your stuff listed. Have a client tell you that your hard work over the years is nothing compared to the free template they just found online. Try to sit quietly and not scream while your coworker tells you your illustration style is weird and to redo it ‘more normal’. Resist the urge to slap the client who wants you to find high quality, convention banner sized stock imagery for ‘a couple bucks’, or a web developer who will built a custom 20+ page website from scratch for $100.

Capitulate to a distillery client who has just sprung on you that they want to pay you in their odd-tasting hooch instead of paying you, then get yourself and several party guests really sick from drinking it and even more sick realizing all the work they scammed out of you for free. Have a client tell you that designers aren’t needed on this project anymore because they found a ‘web designer’. Take on freelance gigs and realize many of them have no intention of paying you, ever. Threaten legal action and finally get paid almost a year after doing a job. Put up with clients insisting that you go all the way to them for a meeting and then all they have for you is a handout or scribbled page of notes they could have easily emailed to you or covered in a video call.

Try selling books online as an alternative, only to realize you can’t make any money on it because every unemployed person in the world has apparently had the same idea. Go back to freelance and spend hours on the phone and in Skype meetings while business types jerk themselves off verbally in front of their teams and make you witness it even though it has nothing to do with the graphic/user component of the project. Contemplate taking a job stocking grocery shelves because it won’t be as demeaning. Sympathize with female colleagues who have taken on phone sex work because they can’t get work in the male-dominated field they trained in. Research doing actual sex work to make money. Chicken out and look up panty selling.

Make websites and promotional materials for the most fail-filled products and services you can imagine for meager hundreds while the software engineers and heads on the project get shares in the company, bonuses, retreats, goodies and ridiculous pay to always be late and out of scope and treat you like you’re the jerk. Feel like crap while your software engineer spouse makes more money in a day than you can struggle to make in six months. Watch as templatized web services, stock illustration, and spec-work services like 99designs eat away at your client list until it’s not even worth checking email in the morning. Check email once a week and find that one of the three clients you have left is in crisis and pissed off at you even though you haven’t heard from them in months.

Go to a two hour interview where they act like you’re already hired, are ridiculously excited about your portfolio and skills, only to hear they want you to do two weeks of work for free, and that they’ve also asked a dozen other designers to do the same, and whichever design they like best is the only one they’re going to pay. Back to the drawing board. Maybe more volunteer work will make you feel valued and worthwhile to society? Volunteer for an organization for five years, for thousands of hours, pro bono, then get begged into a paid position only to be treated with resentment and told angrily at one point that they ‘used to just get it for free’. Try to quit and get guilted into staying. Take another month of abuse and quit in tears. Spend a week stoned out of your mind not thinking about what a failure you are. Spend hours making quotes and estimates for people who send an RFP and never hear back from them with even a ‘no thanks’.

Rebrand yourself, start anew, sketch new things and try commodifying other things you make, stepping up your artisan output only to fill more bins with unwanted items that clog up your house further. Participate in endless contests to ‘get exposure’ and get nothing but wasted time and effort. Concentrate hard on trying to blow up the world with your mind, fail and go back to barefoot snack eating and depressed masturbating. Spend 300 hours a month playing a video game in order to not spend all day crying. I would have gone to therapy, but I’m not crazy – the world is. I’m 100% sure of it.

It is said that if you have bad job after bad job, jerk client after jerk client, that it must be problem with the shared variable, you. Well world, fine, I’m bad then. I’m not a success. I’m not what you want. Having worked all the angles, I don’t understand what is expected of me or how to succeed without living a nightmare. Work is hell. I understand layout and typography and color and contrast and usability and adobe and 3D and CSS and good content but because I have a vagina and a quiet personality, I’m predestined to be a giant fail-filled failure of fail. I give up trying to participate in all this nonsense, striving for money for stuff for what? I’m tired of trying to sell my artistic soul to a bunch of greedy zombies.