The problem is this: people associate graphic designers with the tools they use. And that devalues the designer (and Design at large). Just because you can use Photoshop and mash pixels, doesn’t mean you’re a designer.
Good design makes a significant impact. You can create rich messages with design by leveraging branding, marketing strategy, & visual communication.
I recently sent a promotional email to my mailing list. The results were remarkable. It wasn’t just effective, it was over-the-top successful. It was an uber email.
Project failures: I’d prefer to learn from insight rather than negative experiences. But there is merit to the value of some failures.
Working with templates is a good thing. Templates are a nice starting point for small projects. They’re best as a jumping off point into something new.