Overlooked and Underrated: A Designer’s Dilemma

Designers often work in the community providing graphics for each army, but a lot of the time, the graphics get more plaudits than designers do. Are Graphic Designers underappreciated or is knowing that people love the graphics enough?

Designed by Koloway

Arguably, being a graphic designer is one of the hardest jobs to have in an online community as competition is fierce. Sometimes finding a job that people are willing to pay for can be harder than people think. But, within the army community, there has often been a big demand for designers. But is that because people value the designers or because many will work for free?

Designers did not always work for free, in fact, during the OG era, designers charged for their services. At the time, armies used Xat as a platform to be able to communicate with their army in real time and lead them into battle. Armies used it much like how they now use Discord. However, there was a heavy reliance on websites for announcements and further communication.

Xat was simply a chatting platform with just one type of chat function and a private messaging system. This meant that there was no separate chat or channel for announcements, just one main chat. Messages were not saved like they are on Discord, only a certain amount of the latest comments could be seen. Despite the limitations of Xat, armies relied on it. It also had a store where people could buy ‘xats’ or ‘days’. These were the currency on Xat which could be used to buy other things from the store like ‘powers’.

Army Republic’s Xat chat

‘Profiles Styles’ is one power that can be bought on Xat which allows members to customise their profile, add gradient colours, images or colour effects. The powers came in all different shapes, sizes and prices. They were not the only thing that could be bought as even Xat groups and advertisements could be bought.

With that being said, it became a desired currency for army members, much like how Club Penguin players would desire a membership for the game. Designers often used this as a payment method to be able to get paid for their work. Most of the people within the community were teens so not everyone was able to get access to a payment card or XAT currency easily but many did buy xats and use them frequently. This meant that this was one of the only ways designers could get paid for their work.

Each creation would cost a different amount of XATs and would differ depending on the graphic designer. Xat avatars (profile pictures) varied from 50-100 xats. Yet, avatars wouldn’t credit the designer on them, there was simply no room. However, XAT chat backgrounds did. As you can see from the Army Republic background (above), a name can be seen above the emotes. This was something a lot of designers would do so that they would be recognised for their graphics. It also semi-prevented people from claiming it as their own work.

It is understated how important designers were and still are for the army community. Whether armies had army websites or just a XAT chat, it was almost guaranteed they would have/need graphics. In comparison to today, armies used their websites actively to communicate with members of the army and the community. Each website would be filled with specific graphics for the army. Even non-armies relied on specific graphics being made like CPAC. Graphics showed everyone what the army/organisation was, and what it looked like. The graphics gave them personality.

Most troops were recruited off of Club Penguin so, for some, the website was the first thing they saw, whether it was them being told about the site or by looking for cheats. If the site is plain it could look like a scam website or uninteresting so these were of great importance. Some armies also tried to promote their armies by having side banners on websites. Advertisements were usually paid for in xats too so people would have to pay for both the graphic and the advertisement should they want to do that.

However, when people see the graphics, they don’t see the designers. Instead, all they see is the army and its leaders or legends. With that said, in comparison to today, graphic designers were sought out and acknowledged.

Dino, Water Vikings Leader, talking about designers in Club Penguin Armies

Over time, graphic designing has only become more complex and more draining for designers. Just like how designing has changed has developed, so have expectations. Now, many people desire “perfect” graphics which suit them. Not only this, but the graphics have to be made fast and for free. If a graphic is a bit off or is not what someone expected, there will be complaints. It could be argued that people should express their opinions if the designer got the wrong idea. However, sometimes it is less about what is said but how it is said.

A recent example of controversy surrounded the Trick Or Treat Trials tournament trophy. The Army of Club Penguin expressed their opinions about the trophy. However, the trophy was not specifically made under ACP’s direction but rather Club Penguin Armies‘. So, when the feedback and complaints came in, understandably, the designer was a bit disappointed and frustrated. This frustration only worsened when the trophy was remade by Mcdonalds, ACP’s designer. The remake came after conversations were seen between ACP and the designer of the original trophy.

Ultimately, both parties were frustrated with what happened, however, one thing was seen. Two credible designers were put to work on the same trophy, arguably, wasting time and effort. Ultimately, there are now two trophies for the tournament, one official and one unofficial. Yet, there was a lot of respect shown towards Dino, the original designer, from the community after this incident appreciating him for his work. Apologies were eventually sent and the heat cooled off. Despite the situation occurring between the two parties, it was felt by other designers within the community.

Mcdonalds talking about the Trick or Treat Trials Trophy

One question still remains, however, are designers overlooked, overworked, and overrated? Or are the expectations too high? Club Penguin Armies approached Cassie for her thoughts on the matter.

I do think designers get overlooked quite often, specifically when it comes to thumbnails. You rarely see people talking about the thumbnail of a new post, in comparison to the post itself, even tho it’s the first thing you see. Which kind of kills creativity, because why would I spend extra effort creating a unique thumbnail when it would get as much recognition as a slightly different variation of a previous thumbnail?
We also do have quite a small number of designers and we all have lives outside of CPA ofc, so the workload sometimes does get kinda overwhelming at times.

Cassie is currently a designer for CPA. Getting a designer’s thoughts on this matter is of great importance because we get to hear what they think, having experienced it for themselves. One thing that I mentioned previously was the lack of recognition of the designers behind the artwork. Yet, Cassie goes one step further to state that designs like thumbnails are rarely talked about/recognised. If they are not shown appreciation for their hours spent on the artwork, what is the point?

When reflecting on every aspect of a designer’s job, it can be determined that, overall, they are overlooked. Designers arguably get the most recognition when they create a trophy for a tournament. People flock to comment on the design of the trophy. Yet, for simple things like website designs or thumbnails (or other things), only a few will take a second to show their appreciation. It could be argued that many members will not comment unless it directly affects them e.g. a tournament trophy or their army’s new server picture. Yet, even then I have seen designers go unrecognised for their work.

When we look into the past, we see graphics, trophies, banners, old chat graphics, penguin graphics and a lot more. However, unless the designer inscribed their name into the picture, which is rare nowadays and in many cases not possible (like on trophies), then we won’t know who designed them. Armies don’t go out of their way to credit the designers in their trophy cabinet or on their website. Organisations don’t create posts detailing past graphics and their designers, showing appreciation and, if they have done so in the past, files/pictures can and have gotten corrupted. We just simply take in the graphic and fail to recognise the person behind it.

A comic created by Rebel Penguin Federation’s Toia.

With that being said, what could we do to solve this? Would it be that hard to look at the work someone has put into a graphic and send a message appreciating their work? Maybe armies could credit the designer of the trophy in their trophy cabinet. Maybe we should do more to proactively show appreciation for designers. No designer will continue to design forever so let us enjoy them and their graphics while we have them. Once they’re gone, let us make sure that we do not forget them. Let us etch their name in army history alongside their graphics.

It only feels right for me to thank each present and past designer who has worked for Club Penguin Armies for taking the time to help create sensational graphics. Over the past years, we have had many amazing thumbnails, server banners and pictures, trophies and more. None of this would be possible without any of you, so thank you.

What do you think? Are designers underappreciated? Are they overlooked? What should be done to make sure they are not underappreciated and overworked?


Club Penguin Armies Executive Producer

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One Response

  1. […] up with a total of eight works under her name and style. As Coolguy rightly pointed out in his editorial, Designers are often overlooked in this community, with their work being hardly appreciated. […]

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