Amateur vs. Professional: Is the Only Thing Between Them A Toolbox?


“It’s always been my dirty little secret that I don’t like finagling Adobe’s software. I figured most people would not be able to see me as a professional if I wouldn’t commit to learning how to use the software. But why does it matter what I’m using as long as I get the project done?! It takes time for me to learn to use fancy software over something that I’m used too and time’s a commodity most people can’t afford these days.”

That was an excerpt from the first version of this piece where I found freedom in accepting that I didn’t have to use the tools everyone else was using and that I would be perfectly fine using Microsoft Publisher to address my designer needs for the rest of my (probably short lived) career. Since then I’ve come to terms with what I was actually doing which is a mix between giving myself some room to breathe and hanging myself with the slack that I was allowing.

The truth is, it’s okay that I’m not a huge Adobe fan. I don’t have to ever use Adobe’s software if I choose not too. But that doesn’t mean that I stick with same basic tools until an even more basic app comes along. Growth is a necessary part of anything. Without it, there’s only death. So you grow or you die, your choice.

While at first glance that may seem like a lot of pressure – especially if someone is pressing you to grow in a certain direction (towards specific software and production tools) – the truth of the matter is that you have the freedom to grow in whatever direction you want too. Just for the love of God GROW!

Recently, I’ve moved from Pablo to Canva. Both are very simply, one is more simple than the other. Pablo can create graphics in seconds – mostly because it only has two features: picture background, and text. That’s it. You also have three choices for the size of the image which will probably add on a couple seconds to your time-frame. Canva, on the other hand, has a multitude of layouts and several times as many options as Pablo, which means you have a lot more to work you’re way through. It also uses the same layer function that I hate so much in Adobe but loved in Publisher. To be honest, the only thing I hated about Adobe’s lay function is the lock tool that sporadically makes it harder to move certain elements and inevitably adds minutes (sometimes 10!) to whatever project I’m working on.

As you can tell, my impatience is one of the things that keeps me from playing with the big dogs. But patience is one of the many things I’m growing into and hopefully one of the things that will end up separating me from all of you guys when we go after the same job.

It took several new age work books, including Jason Fried’s & David Heinemeier Hansson’s book Rework, for me to finally come to terms with the fact that I shouldn’t be wasting time on the small stuff. This is one of the increasingly abundant situations where how you get to where you’re going shouldn’t matter as much as actually getting there. Who knows, you may end up bringing the company you work for the next Apple-esque product because of your nit-pickyness. I’d like to think, in my twentysomething mind, that being a professional is less about what tools you use and more about what you bring to the table at the end of the day.


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