Dear Defensive Designer…

Shannel Wheeler
5 min readMar 23

How dare clients ask me to use Canva!

Fiverr is taking over!

Why are they still using Powerpoint? Do they not know Keynote is much better?

I can’t believe they’re still using that software…

Who still uses bevels and drop shadows? Ugh!

As professional designers, we’ve put the work in. We’ve invested countless hours in front of the computer, years of study, and even some sleepless nights. The title of Designer should be earned, not given — right? We see the world through a unique lens, and as visual communicators, we reserve the right to uphold a standard for good design.

Yes, all of the above is true. But I’ve also noticed many online dialogues of designers who feel very strongly about what is and isn’t acceptable in the design world. Much of the discourse revolves around tools, techniques, and marketplaces that “real” designers should never use or the egregious violations of those outside of the community who pose threats to our very existence. This includes the use of “lowly” tools like Canva or offering extremely discounted services on Fiverr or Upwork. Some designers give a strong side-eye to other designers and wonder why they are diminishing the integrity of the field.

These concerns are valid, as it becomes easier and easier for seeming design imposters (those who haven’t dedicated nearly as much time to learn the craft) to create the things that only we were once privy to.

But there’s also a danger in this “gatekeeper” perspective; when it’s only your way or the highway, there has to be some introspection into why these thoughts come so strongly to the forefront.

When tools rule

Has your pride as a designer somehow gotten wrapped up in your ability to manipulate pixels versus your ability to visually communicate effectively? Of course, there’s something to be said about the time and dedication it takes to become competent in Photoshop or Illustrator — let alone master them. And while the manipulation of these industry-standard tools is no small feat, your value as a designer doesn’t only rest on the ability to use software.

Consider this hypothetical scenario (which is absolutely possible): let’s say in 10…

Shannel Wheeler

Creative professional, designer, author, instructor. Creating with purpose. Teaching and inspiring by design. Start learning design: