If, David Beckham.

So David Beckham will make a lot of money, something like RM470,000 a day.

David Beckham is a footballer who is generally acknowledged as a good player, not a great player. He has passed his prime, and may only have 2 good years left to give in top-flight football. He has been through big football clubs and his only option after Real Madrid was probably to return to some middle-ranking clubs in the UK (since the big four — MU, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal wouldn’t want him). He could have played his last few years of football in grace and probably achieve something before bowing out in retirement. Could have.

But he chose showbiz.

A football player could quit playing and move into management. For David Beckham, after a few more years on the field in a less competitive league, he would eventually venture into Hollywood movies (or one of those Who wants to be Beckham reality TV shows).

Anyways, this is not a blog entry about football. I don’t watch football!

I was thinking about a career in design.

A great designer will continue designing until the end. Witness Alan Fletcher, Saul Bass, Tibor Kalman, etc. Many of the living legends are still designing — Milton Glaser (born 1929), Massimo Vignelli (1931), Adrian Frutiger (1928), Bob Gill (1931), etc.

What happens to the not-so-great, just-average designers? There are those who had passed their creative prime and are now suffering from creative burnouts. Or they may have been stuck in design agencies and never made the cut for a higher position. Or maybe they have spent years in network agencies, with a fairly nice salary but nowhere to go next. Or maybe they have grown so accustomed to doing things their way that they could not approach projects with alternative perspectives. Looking around, they see young promising creatives entering the job market, with fresh and exciting ideas coupled with radical ways of executing jobs. Despite the threat posed by the new competitors, they know too well — deep down inside them, the will to compete is no longer there. The passion is no longer there.

What are the options?

Go into freelancing — Less demanding, work at your own pace. Start teaching at a local art college — Stable income, live on past glory and students won’t know one is a has-been. Or work with a corporate as the solo in-house designer — isolate oneself from the competition with new-comers in the industry. Or maybe, start teaching children art classes.

Or abandon designing totally.

Hairstylists. Direct Sales. Insurance. Marketing. etc.

I always believe that a designer has to look beyond his working cubicle and beyond his Mac. He has to absorb experiences from life, has to cultivate interests in other areas and has to be less engrossed in the design profession itself. Only then, the passion for constantly inventing something new could be sustained. Or else it would be a mere formulaic approach to designing for the sake of making a living.

That, is obviously not good.