What Is Gatekeeping?

I know many of you heard this term thrown around in 2022, but you may not have fully understood what it means. Through free YouTube tutorials, educational social media posts and free products, I've really tried to eliminate the barrier of entry to graphic design - specifically in the work of entertainment/music merch design.

So let's talk about this...first of all, what is it?

Gatekeeping is a term that is often used to describe the act of controlling access to a particular group or community. In the graphic design industry, gatekeeping can take on many different forms, but it is typically used to refer to the ways in which those who are already established in the industry try to control who gets to be a part of it.

One way that gatekeeping can occur in the graphic design industry is through the use of education as a means of limiting access. For example, many graphic design jobs require a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field, and some even require a master's degree. This can make it difficult for those who do not have the financial means to afford a higher education to break into the industry.

Another way that gatekeeping can occur in the graphic design industry is through the use of unpaid internships. Many graphic design firms offer unpaid internships as a way for aspiring designers to gain experience and build their portfolios. While this can be a great opportunity for some, it can also be a way for firms to exploit the labor of aspiring designers and limit access to those who cannot afford to work for free.

Gatekeeping can also occur through the use of exclusive networking events or job listings that are only available to those who are already established in the industry. This can make it difficult for new designers to get their foot in the door and build connections that can help them advance in their careers. Overall, gatekeeping in the graphic design industry can be a major barrier for those who are trying to break into the field. It is important for those who are already established in the industry to be aware of these issues and to work to create more inclusive and accessible opportunities for aspiring designers.

While I don't think it's CRAZY to do some free design work or lower your rates at the beginning of your design career, I don't think keeping secrets is cool. If you're an established designer and are unwilling to give tips or advice to the next generation, you're simply being insecure.


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