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The Design is about Passion, not Money.

Updated on January 10, 2017
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Luciano Bove is a car design manager working at Renault Design, born in Italy he studied at Art Center College of Design in California.

Work for Money Design for Love
Work for Money Design for Love | Source

Passion first!

I am a designer, a car designer, and to become one I had the chance to follow my passion for drawing cars.

I do not want to annoy you about how I did it. However; I would like to share with you a strange feeling I have about how, lately, young design students, or design lovers, approach the opportunity to become professional designers.

They are first concerned with money, how much money could I make as a designer?

Every time I receive a message asking for advice (about drawings, portfolio review or career help) I get frustrated when asked this money question!

My first instinct is not to answer, later on, I think again to that person waiting for an answer and yes I do answer: "let's make it clear if you want my help do not talk about money because the design is about passion first!"

It is difficult to explain what to design something can mean to designers, the excitement inside your body, your brain, your heart, your hands mastering color pencils drawing beautiful shapes.

The feeling when a sketch comes out just great, imagining already a clay sketch model, touching the surfaces, feeling all refined surface transitions, adding details, trying alternatives.

The feeling I get when I see on a screen the digital model coming to life, checking reflections on surfaces, watching over and over short virtual films of it.

Looking at the model under the milling machine taking form and later the same one painted. Walk around it, looking for defaults, making corrections.

All this is about Passion, not money!

BMW Interior Designer at work
BMW Interior Designer at work | Source

A Designer is really an Art Sculptor

"A Designer is really an Art Sculptor" (Source: Chris Bangle former BMW VP Design)

It is true and if designers are like art sculptors it is a question related to talent and passion.

It is a bit of a surprise that so many young people ask me about the "money" issue, is out there a perception problem, or is out there a bunch of future designers that have really nothing to do than looking for money?

Sometimes I feel that society is becoming so fast in burning desires and so consumeristic that we risk haveing a young generation of people who do not really see clearly ahead of them. They misunderstand their objective, people kind of lost in a nobody's land without seeing how to find the right way to make it.


Chris Bangle about the Art of Automobile Design at TED

Designers provoke Emotions

To be a designer is not only a question about talent & passion, it is also about emotions.

Designers master projects that will provoke emotions which will create in peoples' mind dreams. To do so designers must use all their talent and skills to design such masterpieces. Let's make it clear it is referred to concept cars as well as to everyday cars, or products.

Think about the I-Phone design by Apple, it made people dream when the first one came out. It was, of course, thanks to its technology but also thanks to its sensational and magic minimalist design.

Designers work on projects that will reformulate an experience in a different and more comfortable way, they work with passion making things better and more appealing to consumers, they help society to change sometimes its behaviors.

When you think about all the energy and talent involved, how can you think about "how much money could I make being a designer?"

Design & Emotions

Designer's becoming designers

Of course, you will earn money if you will work as a designer!

However, what does it mean to become a designer? What type of school career to take? How difficult and expensive can that be? How to chose a good school?

Those are the right questions to ask me. It is not an easy task to enter into design field, you need first:

  • talent (with which you are born unless forget it)
  • strong motivation (be a hard constant worker unless forget it)
  • invest some money going to a professional design college or university (forget the one-year Master after Engineering or Architecture it does not work, you will need between 3 to 5 years of full design course)
  • great portfolio to sell yourself (if you do not have a great one you will be in trouble).

As a professional designer, you will enter into a company career development program and you will start your path.

  • junior designer
  • designer
  • expert designer
  • lead designer
  • design management
  • creative management
  • design director

Naturally, your salary will improve according to your career development.

How to mke money!
How to mke money! | Source

Making Money in Design

However, never forget that you will make more money only if you will deserve it. In design studios competition is very high because many talents are together working on same projects, so your performance has to be outstanding to hope to move on with your designer career.

The money thing in Design comes always after as a second priority. The most important thing is to be a designer and to work in a design studio. We (designers) feel blessed by life for doing what we love to do and believe me it was not a joke to get it.

It was not easy at school and later on when we start searching for a job.

We work and earn money just like an engineer or an architect, who works as a freelancer will make probably more money (but with a higher risk) than a designer working for a big company. Designers that have success make more money for several reasons like:

  • they are better designers than average
  • they make their career faster moving up on the career ladder
  • they become strategically important for the company
  • they usually work a lot harder and are more devoted to company's cause than average

At the end we come back to the starting point of this hub: instead of asking how much money you can make, ask yourself what effort you can do to make it!

Good luck!

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