The best part is I know the designer who does all their merch design an album art. Dude learned everything by trial an fire no degree in his room. He just very talented at understanding what the band wants an gets it done.
He is just an ok designer. I think he is really good at seeing trends and copying them, but he is far from original. His typography is clumsy at best. Almost every album cover he has done is all caps, san serif, trendy typeface. His hierarchy of information is cluttered and unbalanced. Doing band merch doesn't show skill because it possibly one of the easiest pieces to create. I would be more interested in seeing him doing a multipage book layout or informational design.
The fact that he has had no formal schooling shows in his work. There is no structure or grid to anything he has done. People who think they don't need school and kidding themselves. That setting is really the only place to explore and grow as a designer, and is invaluable.
I'm not saying he should stop being a designer. I just think he is marginally average as a designer. If he went to undergrad for design i think he could be a great designer though.