Traits of a Muslim Designer

It’s one thing to be a designer, but it’s a whole other animal if you’re a muslim designer. If you’re an actual designer (not one of those “I just do it on the side for fun” kind of designers), but also happens to be Muslim, then maybe this might be you. But if you’re not sure, read along to find out if you are a muslim designer with these deprecating signature traits.


• Un(der)paid

If it’s a good day, you will be contacted by another muslim from your community to design something. But their budget will be unrealistically minimal. I mean, I guess everyone is into minimalism these days and they were unfortunately influenced as well. Can’t blame them. But you, the designer, should learn to be grateful. At least you’ll get paid something.

If you’re having a bad day, then lo and behold you will unfortunately be contacted by another fellow muslim who would like to get some services done pro bono. In other words, free. Just so they can later add to the entire “designers don’t make as much money as *insert alternate career choice*” statistic and preach to their future kids to steer clear of going down that path. Unless of course it’s just a side gig or just for fun. Then you future kids are on the right path.

Yes, there are a lot of designers that volunteer their skills for nonprofits or startups. And that’s fine. But the real punchline is what follows after the shameless free design with infinite changes request: “do it to please God.” Because apparently doing it for money means you can’t also be doing it for God. Gotta pick one!


• Beautifully Ugly Designs

Don’t try the latest trends, don’t design it too beautifully, because the client will be unable to see the beauty. I’ve tried and tested it, so save yourself the time and don’t design it too beautifully.


• No Minimalism

By default, if you’re a muslim designer with a muslim client, you’ll have to pound layers upon layers. Fyi, I’m not talking about make up. That means, you have a gradient, fancy copy in a fancy display font, some geometric elements, and then the image of the presenter(s). Bonus: Make sure to superimpose an image of the literal definition of the event title. For example, “Dive deep into the Qur’an” and make sure you add an image of a diver, snorkeling or the deep sea. “Fasting in Ramadan” would require a speed zone sign, you get the point!

If you create a minimal design, that just means there’s space for more copy. And that’s all it means.


• (Should) Know Arabic Calligraphy

Because even if you don’t, you do. Trust me, you just do. I just said you do, so you do.


• Patience

If you’ve contacted and applied for design jobs at several islamic organizations but haven’t gotten a response, then you’re definitely a muslim designer. Those organizations are busy alright. They didn’t ghost you indefinitely, they’re just helping you practice patience. Even if you didn’t get the position, or they decided they didn’t need to hire for such a position, or they are disorganized, they don’t need to inform you. Just practice patience.


Did that check off all your boxes?

Then congratulations! You are among a small community of highly tolerant, underpaid, patient yet frustrated Arabic calligraphers fighting maximalism. AKA a muslim designer.

Nevertheless in all seriousness, and setting aside all the sarcasm temporarily, from the start of my career I’ve noticed that muslims supporting muslims did not apply to muslim designers. It has cost me years of frustration and feeling a sense of betrayal to realize there was no point catering to a muslim audience. While the common excuse to seek the reward from God is beautiful and noble, it is also noble to pay your workers their due, to help one make a fair wage, to earn a living the right way, and to show gratitude. Next time you decide to hire a muslim designer that obviously won’t be me, stop making excuses and treat them like your local doctor. Stop disrespecting and start paying with that God blessed and rewarded money of yours. 

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