From time to time, I like to visit the web sites and portfolios of designers who comment on the blog here, join the facebook page, or follow me on twitter. I am always interested in finding new talent, meeting new designers, and gaining new inspiration.
The other day, while perusing a few sites, I was taken aback by something I read in the “about me” section. The first paragraph started like this:
Hi, my name is ********. I’m a 16-year-old designer from the UK.
Now, I’m all for being personal and approachable – even transparent – but I was a little confused on why the designer felt the need to include his age when describing himself. So I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you today on the matter and then I’d love to hear your comments.
Walk a mile in my youthful shoes
So, before I started to judge this designer too much, I decided to try to put myself in his situation. I thought it could be useful to understand why he may have felt the need to place his age in such a prominent place. Perhaps he was proud of how successful he was at such a young age. Perhaps he thought it helped him appear honest and transparent.
Whatever the reason, he felt it was necessary.
So, to offer fair advice, I’d like to offer a few Pros and a few Cons for divulging your age to potential design clients.
In favor of age transparency
So why would someone want to share their age? Whether young or old, there are a few benefits.
If you’re 58, for example, perhaps you’d like to share with your potential clients that you have a lot of experience under your belt. You want to come off as wise, experienced and trustworthy. After all, who wouldn’t love to hire an aging gentleman reminiscent of Paul Rand for a designer?
Conversely, if you’re 16, perhaps you’re trying to explain to your potential clients that you are young, up-to-date on the latest styles and techniques, and have the ability to crunch a project through the night when necessary. There are a lot of clients who would also like to hire someone who can run on coffee and creativity alone.
Negative side affects to age-sharing
But, as in any situation, there are also negative side affects to sharing your age. Clients always judge you quickly. A first impression is everything. And, even if you are the right designer for the job, they may not be able to see past your age into your beautiful and impressive portfolio.
If you come across as too old, you might lose potential clients who are looking for someone young and “hip”. If you come across as too young, you might be misjudged as irresponsible or inexperienced.
Frankly, I would discourage sharing your age with potential clients.
A nice alternative
So what would I do? I would (and do) try out this fancy-pants alternative: I tell them how long I have been in business. Many of my promotional materials include phrases like “…has been designing since his childhood…” or “…has been making clients happy for nearly 5 years…”.
I find that this helps me be transparent without scaring away potential clients.
What about you?
Do you share your age with potential clients? What are some of the benefits and drawbacks of sharing your age? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.