9 People You Meet at Every Design Firm

By Hannah Greene

The design community is a wonderful place filled with many types of interesting people.

If you’ve been in the biz (Yeah, I just referred to it as the ‘biz’) long enough, you start to notice some trends… Not only in design, but in the types of professionals as well. It’s likely that you know a few folks like this, so take a look at this non-exhaustive list of 9 types of design personalities based on one person’s observations.




The Minimalist

The minimalist is generally easy to spot. They adore Helvetica, simple shapes, black and white. Usually spotted wearing the same outfit (jeans and a plain t-shirt) multiple times per week, if not every day. Anyone with a straight line tattoo probably falls into this category. The minimalist is often cynical of their own work because clients don’t subscribe to their design principles. See these common complaints.

Works best with: The space cadet. They’re great at taking wild ideas and pairing them down to the core practicality.




The Old-School

“In my day, we had to (insert painful/tedious task here)” they say as they critique your work. The old school is the best person for advice. Life advice or design advice, they’ve done it all and have an opinion. Often times, the old school is actually the most well-versed in design programs because they literally helped make them. But, when push comes to shove, they’re usually best simply putting pen to paper. All in all, we love the old school because they know their shit.

Works best with: everyone.




The Trend-Repeater

The trend-repeater is a good designer who is stuck in a rut. Often times, they have latched onto a trend they love, and they are really good at it, but they cannot move past it. The trend-repeater needs some love and inspiration. Try sharing some of our ways to get out of a rut or mood boards. This is a temporary state. YOU CAN DO IT!

Works best with: a new challenge and fresh inspiration.




The space cadet

Often seen sporting funky socks, the space cadet is on a totally different wavelength from us regular folk. While it can be difficult to keep them on task, they are particularly gifted at finding innovative ways to solve a problemwith about a 50/50 feasibility rate. When working with a space cadet, you must practice brainstorming rules: https://challenges.openideo.com/blog/seven-tips-on-better-brainstorming

Works best with: a workplace that supports their quirky creativity.




The Non-Designer Designer, a.k.a. The Hoverer

There is one in every office, the person who doesn’t have a formal design training, yet insists on designing. It can often be frustrating to have someone hover over your shoulder and tell you to keep making it bigger, but I’ve found that listening to them leads to good solutions *sometimes.* While they may make some ignorant design comments (“Can we put a drop shadow on it?”), be patient and keep an open mind.

Works best with: someone with an open mind and with lawyerly reasoning skills.




The Hipster

Usually seen wearing ironic clothing, the hipster is a generally unpleasant character. They are overly serious about design and have big plans to work at a huge, hip design firm and often come off as apathetic to their current workplace. Unfortunately for everyone, they’re great designers—on trend, creative, and talented. Fortunately for everyone, they migrate often meaning you only need to avoid them for a few months.

Works best with: caffeine, Spotify, and themselves.




The Executive Designer

With roots as a designer, the Executive Designer has been around so long, they’ve moved into a management position—often starting their own agency or working as an account manager. They’ve gotten so busy with other work, designing is rarely a part of their day. Once “Golden Handcuff” syndrome sets in, it’s hard to break free. Love these individuals and include them in your critique (if they have time).

Works best with: anyone because they’re just excited to flex their design muscles again.




The Program Guru

Did your Photoshop mouse change? Why can’t you transform this shape in Illustrator all of a sudden? *Da-da-da-da!* The Program Guru to your rescue! They’ll tell you it’s simply because your Caps Lock is on or you need to Shift+⌘+B. Shortcuts and troubleshooting galore. This is one of the most valuable people in your office.

Works best with: everyone—even if they are begrudgingly taking them away from their own work.




The Milton

The Milton shows up every morning on time and leaves every night on time. Beyond that, you have no idea what they do. They seem to be busy all day, but to what end? This is a prime opportunity—go talk to them and learn something! They obviously either know how to do something awesome you don’t even comprehend, or they’re about to burn the place down, in which case it never hurts to be on their good side.

Works best with: a window cubicle and a stapler.



Again, this is not an exhaustive list.

The design world is filled with unique creatives that defy a clear-cut stereotype, but I’m betting you knew some of these characters. Sometimes you love them, sometimes not so much.

Keep an open mind, have fun and get creative.

Which type of creative are you?


Hannah Greene