Become a Graphic Designer - Design Careers & Design Education Advice from Professional Designer

How to Become a Graphic Designer - What to Do to Follow Your Dreams and Become a Graphic Designer - Advice from an Expert Graphic Designer

So, You Want to be a Graphic Designer… Now What?

By Elle Phillips, Elle Phillips Design

Please welcome our guest writer, Elle Phillips, back to All Graphic Design. Today she wrote an article that is full of wonderful advice to individuals who are looking to become a Graphic Designer. She was inspired to write this wonderful article by a young man who emailed her about his dream of becoming a Designer. Elle realized that she could write an informative article to help many other people who also wish to become a Graphic Designer. We are lucky enough that she decided to reach a larger audience, by publishing her article on All Graphic Design. Elle received a lot of traffic to her site by publishing her previous article - Designing A Catalog From Conception To Completion - A Catalog Design Tutorial - on All Graphic Design. If you also wish to publish your article on All Graphic Design, please visit our Submit a Graphic Design Article page to see how to do so.

So, You Want to be a Graphic Designer… Now What?

I recently received an email from a young man who stated that he “likes to draw” and wants to become a Graphic Designer, but wanted to know how to get started. At first I thought the obvious answer was “get a graphic design education,” but after more thought I realized it isn’t always that simple.

With today’s continually rising tuition costs and the cost of hardware and software that is so necessary in our industry, simply going out and “getting an education” isn’t always possible. Whether you’re right out of high school, a Mom looking for a career she can do from home, recently out of the Military or simply someone who feels they have a knack for design and is ready for a career change, consider that you have a few options on how to gain the skills you will need to pursue your dream job. But first, ask yourself some questions:

1. Why do you want to be a Graphic Designer?

Why Do You Want to Become a Graphic Designer

The answer to this question is very important and can have direct impact on if you can make it in this highly competitive field.

If you wish to be a designer simply because you have a friend who makes a lot of money and you want to make lots of money too, then you should probably reconsider your options. The success of most designers comes with time, effort, skill and knowledge. Granted, there are some designers out there who are born with phenomenal skill and require little effort to do what they do best, but the majority of us work hard to keep up with the latest trends, maintain excellent customer service to our clients and continually stay educated on the latest hardware and software. There is a certain amount of skill required to becoming successful as a designer, and it’s no easy task. If you’re in it simply for the money, be prepared to make very little your first few years out of the gate, or nothing at all if you’re just no good at design.

If you want to be a designer because you feel you have some artistic abilities or your friends often compliment you on that great birthday invitation you put together for your sister, then you might have something going for you. It is definitely not a requirement that you posses the ability to draw, but it certainly helps. In my personal opinion, most artists (visual, musical or otherwise) have a natural eye for color, shape and composition. Call it “right-brained” if you will, but it’s commonly the case that naturally artistic people are drawn to more artistic fields – and graphic design is one of them.

2. Do you feel you have what it takes to be a successful Graphic Designer?

Do I have What It Takes to Work Hard to Become a Graphic Designer? It will be a LOT of work

Just touching on the point I made above, some sort of artistic eye or creative flair is often helpful to becoming a designer, but there are many more traits required.

Are you willing to learn? Technical knowledge of the programs used to create today’s layouts is a MUST, so you need to ask yourself if you’re tech-savvy enough (or willing enough) to learn how to turn what’s in your head into tangible, print-ready collateral. It’s not a matter of learning one or two programs… to be truly successful, you will need to know a very wide variety of layout, illustration and photo manipulation programs, as well as web authoring programs and coding languages if you wish to pursue website design.

Are you good with people? While you may think all graphic artists work individually, that’s not always the case. Entry-level designers often start working in a team environment, so you’ll need to be able to work with other designers and under a manager or Art Director while you gain valuable skills. If you have aspirations of becoming a freelancer and want to work on your own, then you’ll need to be able to communicate well with potential clients.

3. Can you take criticism?

Graphic Designers Need to Be able to take Criticism, Can you cope with negative feedback on your designs

Oh yes, your work will be criticized. Just because your Mom loves the Mother’s Day card you made for her in MS Word doesn’t mean someone out in the world will pay you for it. Be willing to accept criticism for what it’s worth and use it to improve your abilities. If someone tells you your design stinks, you need to be able to smile, shrug it off, and find a way to make it better. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t believe anyone else’s opinion matters, you are going into the wrong type of business. As a Graphic Designer, you’re serving others, not yourself. It’s going to be your job to create good design (and defend it), but ultimately make your boss or client happy!

Yes I have what it takes to be a graphic designer

You’ve answered “Yes” to all the questions above… now what? Steps to becoming a designer:

Get an Advanced Graphic Design Education and Degree from a Graphic Design School or University Graphic Arts Program

OPTION A: Get an advanced education from a Graphic Design School or University Graphic Arts program.

When I started in the world of graphic design 11 years ago there was adequate competition, but nothing like there is today. Since computers took over and re-shaped the art of design, knowledge of the fundamentals as well as design software is key to being competitive. Education in the field of design is almost essential nowadays, and is by far the most thorough means of diving into the field.

Find a school that offers a degree in Visual Communications or Graphic Design (or some variant thereof) who will teach you the fundamentals of creating masterful design, as well as the technical programs used to execute your ideas. From typography to layout, InDesign to Flash, you’ll need to know it all. You can gain much of this knowledge from Art Institutes, Universities or Graphic Design technical schools. Find one that’s right for you, your budget, and your situation. Talk to different schools and find out if they offer scholarships or grants and apply for them all. Student loans are constantly going skyward and, often, simple things like filling out an application or sending in one of your latest artistic creations is all it takes to get free money for school.

Teach yourself to become a graphic designer - self study to become a designer with no formal design education

OPTION B: Self-Study

I personally believe this is the more difficult path, but if your situation hinders your ability to train at a school, then your only other option is to learn on your own, and you can certainly do it.

First, I suggest learning the programs. You’ll need to know how to use a professional layout program (sorry folks, Word and PageMaker are not industry standard) such as QuarkXPress or InDesign, as well as photo manipulation and illustration programs. Adobe has made it very easy to get all the programs you need out of one box with their Design Suite (which includes InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat and a few other programs), so that may be the way to go. It’ll cost you roughly $1200 (USD), but that pales in comparison to the cost of college tuition.

Go through the tutorials, read the manuals (Adobe actually makes them fairly easy to follow) and gain as much technical knowledge about the programs as you possibly can, then start volunteering your work. If your nephew’s 3rd birthday is coming up, offer to design his invitations for free. If your neighbor wants to sell his house, offer to design his flyers for free. If your friend is starting their own business, offer to design them a logo and business cards (yep, for free). Do whatever you can to put your newly gained skills to use, but don’t do it for money… do it for portfolio pieces. One of the most wonderful things about the Graphic Design field is that the emphasis is not on your degrees or education, but on your portfolio. This is how you will be judged. This is how you will be hired. Your portfolio will ultimately determine your success.

Show off your quality graphic design portfolio as a professional graphic designer yourselfOnce you’ve established a quality portfolio with pieces you’ve designed for yourself as well as others, be prepared to show it off. Get a nice portfolio case or find a creative way to present it, and start applying for jobs. Most companies will require electronic pieces to be emailed to them or a link to an online portfolio of some sort, but eventually you’ll need to bring those pieces (and more) into your one-on-one interview. If you’re determined to be a freelancer, you’ll be showing these pieces to potential clients and it will be your job to convince them that you’re the person for the job.

When you’ve accepted your first professional position, remember to always continue learning and improve skills and portfolio. It will be satisfying to you, and you will only become more successful.

I hope this article has helped the young man who emailed me and answered questions for those of you with dreams of becoming a professional Graphic Designer. If you have any questions or comments I encourage you to contact me through my website at www.ellephillips.com.

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41 Comments

  1. L. C. Blair
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    I have a knack for designs. How do I enhance this gift without going through the vigorous, extensive and expensive programs to make to works brighter with photoshop?

  2. Molly
    Posted May 23, 2008 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I want to do document design (business cards, brochures, newsletters), but I can hardly draw a clipart frog (I tried and it looks like a constipated snail). On the other hand, I do appreciate and have a flair for putting type and text on a page. Do I have to give up my goal of being a freelance document designer?

  3. ali
    Posted May 27, 2008 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    sos

  4. Posted May 28, 2008 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Molly, if you can’t draw a frog (or anything else, really) it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be a great designer. There are some great resources for stock photography and illustrations out there (like istockphoto.com or shutterstock) that can help you enhance your document designs without requiring you to draw anything by hand. If you have an eye for layout and type, you can still pursue your dream!

    L.C. Blair,
    You can continue to enhance your design skills by doing it the old fashioned way - pen and paper. But if you wish to be a designer professionally, you will eventually need to learn all the extensive and expensive programs. If you can create a portfolio for yourself using only hand renderings, I would suggest applying for entry-level graphic design positions where they can teach you how to turn your hand-rendered designs into printable collateral.

  5. Marvelyn
    Posted May 31, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I want to pursue graphic design. I love manipulating photos and just creating something that people love to look at. I sold my first logo ever just recently and I’m going to make it my first piece in my portfolio…any ideas for what should be my second? Oh yeah, I’m also learning to use Flash, do you think that’ll give me an advantage when applying to schools?

  6. Posted June 11, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    My name is Dominic and I have a questions. I just graduated from a 4 year degree college. in other words, I have my BA. I did communication studies and Mass communication studies. I am interesting in Graphic designing and Advertising. For some weired reason, I certainly don’t know whether take a course in Graphic designing or go into advertising shcool. one of the things I am worried about is, I don’t want to start all over again. This is, I don’t want to go for a degree in Graphic desining, since I already have a degree. Please help me.
    Thanks
    Dominic

  7. Posted June 13, 2008 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Marvelyn,
    Yes, learning Flash or any additional programs will help you in the long run, not just for applying to schools but applying for jobs as well. The better you know the different programs, the more success you’ll have as a professional graphic artist. Regarding your portfolio, a wise man once told me to put your best pieces at the front of your portfolio, and down from there. That’s the best advise I can give you.

    Dominic,
    If you already have your BA in Communications, you might be able to find a local community college or design school that will allow you to take just Graphic Design courses without going through a full program.
    If you want to go into Advertising (very different from Graphic Design) it may not be necessary for you to take any classes at all. Try to find an entry-level position with an Ad Agency or an in-house Marketing department (that should be no problem with a Mass Comm degree) and learn everything you can on the job. You may have to start out in PR or as an Advertising Executive, but you’ll get plenty of exposure to the mass amount of positions available in Advertising.

    Good Luck!

  8. Tara
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Hi, I am really nervous about what to do with my future. I’ve always been an artist and excel in visual arts and music, am fairly tech savvy (very well versed in premiere, Photoshop, in design…teaching myself flash, java and illustrator, and learn quickly. I have all the foundation necessary to be a good designer (already have worked professionally in terms of logo design, and have done many posters, yearbook covers/layouts and multimedia presentation. I’ve also been accepted to a top-notch joint design program between 2 leading schools with great reputations. Everything seems to be falling in place, but I can’t ignore the growing anxiety that the future of being a designer is looking pretty bleak. I figure it is becoming more and more mainstream for regular people to be competent with most design software and thus could do without professional services…Also the market is so saturated it feels like I’d be fighting constantly for jobs (I want security). Also with the present focus on being “green”, print material will most likely see a drastic fall, while web design will continue at its present pace (I don’t know anything about web design, so this is really bad news for me). I guess I just feel like it’s a make or break situation, and as someone who has dealt with financial struggle her entire life, I want to be able to live comfortably and not paycheck-to-paycheck. The tuition is ridiculously expensive so I’m worried about sinking into a lot of debt, earning meager cash and starting my life out at the bottom of a financial pit from which I cannot escape. I take great pleasure from creating great art and design, but I am so scared to fail professionally. Could I get into advertising if I wanted to with a design degree? I am also considering going into teaching but I heard you need 5 years industry experience to qualify for high school positions. I would enjoy sharing knowledge with others, and think being a professor would be very rewarding with more job security, but the financial pit would be a good 200,000 deeper if I went for this. I don’t want to quit before I’ve begun, but my natural instinct is to worry. I know I’m talented, great with people, intelligent and imaginative but aren’t a lot of people?

  9. Posted July 2, 2008 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Tara,
    It’s natural to be apprehensive about starting a career path and I completely understand - I was there once too.

    Yes, the amount of graphic designers entering the industry has increased significantly and there is more competition than there was 10 or 20 years ago, but there is also more of a need for qualified designers than there was 10 or 20 years ago. If you are talented, hard working and dedicated to your job, you’ll be fine. I know, it’s easy to say, but it’s true. I personally know some very talented designers as well as some I would consider mediocre, but they are all working and doing well in their careers as designers. Just keep in mind there are many levels of employers out there looking for many levels of designers: some want top talent for top dollar, others want cheap talent who they can train. Where you stand will determine your pay grade. It’s harsh, but true. If you are truly confident of your talent and creativity, set your price high and stick to it. If you’re unsure, start at the bottom and work your way up.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the fate of the print industry - as long as people still buy groceries from the store (retail packaging), still buy books off the shelf (book cover designs), still read magazines (ads and layout), etc., the print industry will not be threatened. If anything, you’ll find new “green” inks and more recycled papers being used before the print industry goes under, so don’t worry yourself there.

    Teaching is a great field to get into right now and as the need for designers grows, the need for people to teach designers grwos, but yes, it will require more schooling and tuition isn’t cheap. If you have your eyes set on being a professor, be prepared to get your Master’s before you’re even considered at most universities… some may even require a Doctorate. I’m not trying to discourage you, just giving you some insight.

    As I mentioned in my article, the best route to becoming a great designer is to go to school. Tuition is expensive, but worth it when you have been offered your first real design position and you can only get better from there. You say you’re talented, great with people, intelligent and imaginative… sure, many people have all those qualities, but not all of them are graphic designers.

  10. Alaina
    Posted July 5, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I graduated in 2007 with my B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management. I realized my senior year that I really wanted to pursue graphic design (I was interested in going to art school in the first place, but I was deterred because of how competitive the field was and how expensive art schools were/are). So here I am a year later, I purchased some online tutorials for Adobe Creative Suite, and have a pretty solid grasp on Photoshop and Illustrator, and am working on mastering Flash which I think I’d like to make my specialty. At the moment I’m not trying to go back to school. I’d like to get my masters at some point but I’d like to try and pay off my Bachelor’s degree worth of debt first. I know the programs will be the easy part to learn. I have a good design instinct, but I was wondering if you had any suggestions for books or something that would teach me proper design techniques or standards. Like what separates good designs from bad from an industry standpoint. Also do you think it would be possible to get an internship position even though I’m not enrolled in a formal education program? Thank you!

  11. Tara
    Posted July 6, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Elle, I am definitely more at ease with next year.

  12. Jennifer
    Posted July 7, 2008 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I consider myself a graphic designer by trade (proficient in photoshop but just learning other programs) and I have a few small businesses and professionals as clients. I am more interested in getting into invitation design and business communiques. I’ve read on wedding invitation sites about designers by trade and their designs seem to be something I am well able to do, with my own creativity, of course. My question is, what program (Illustator, photoshop) is best for this application and how do I go about printing?

  13. Posted July 24, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Alaina,
    There are a ton of books out there on Graphic Design, but it’s difficult to recommend one or two. It really depends on what you wish to specialize in. My suggestion is to look at other designs created in the medium you prefer, ie. Flash websites and presentations since you would like to make that your specialty. The great thing about being a designer is we determine the industry standard, so look around, see what’s being done, and do something better.
    Sure, you could get an internship - just apply and find out. In this industry, it’s your portfolio that matters, not necessarily your education.

    Jennifer,
    I’d say for invitations I use Illustrator far more often than Photoshop, but your own creative style should determine which you prefer. If you like to work more with type, lines, shapes, and clean illustrations into your invites, then Illustrator is your answer. If you like to work primarily in raster images (photos) and high-impact graphics, then Photoshop would probably be a better fit. My suggestion: start with one program (the one you think will fit your current style best), then once you’ve made enough profit, invest in the other program. With both you’ll be more well-rounded and able to create all aspects of design.
    Printing is a different matter, and a much larger one. There are a plethora of on-line vendors out there, and I’m sure there are at least a couple of local printers where you live. Look in the phone book and online. Contact a couple of printers, ask for a quote from each, and then talk to the printer with the best prices. Ask them how they prefer their files (most often they will require a PDF) and work with them on setting up your files correctly. Working with printers can sometimes be a difficult process - we are in the same industry, but on opposite sides of the coin. Not all designs are cheap or printable, so you will have restrictions, but if you talk to your printer ahead of time and get all the information before you start your designs, the process will be much easier for all. Hint: if you do work with a local printer, always request a press-check!!

    NOTE TO ALL: If you take the time to create a relationship with a printing company (and I’m not talking Kinko’s, I mean a real print-shop with presses), gain knowledge of printing and how the printing process works, it will only help you in the long run.

  14. Shailendra Verma
    Posted August 9, 2008 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    Sir, My name is shailendra kumar verma, i have completed my BCA(Bachelor of Computer Applications) the previous year, i dont want to do MCA (MAster of Computer Applications) or MBA (Master in Bussiness Management). I am currently a teenager of 15 , and i have great knowledge of Software Development ( C,C++,JAVA,Microsoft VB .Net) , Web Development( XHTML,CSS,little bit PHP), Graphic Designing ( Adobe Photoshop, Fireworks, Illustrator, Corel Draw,Adobe Macromedia Flash, etc.) and i want to be a great web designer.. plz guide me .. currently i am struggling to be a wordpress designer.. .. i am putting some pieces of work in portfolio currently.. and i want some guidance from u.. what to do .. and how.. plz plz plz plz…thanks a lot

  15. mohmed
    Posted August 10, 2008 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I realy concern about how to be desdigner,by using Photoshobe & swishmax but I still bigenner, U realy gave me good advice then I do apreciate ur I dea but there’s somthing prevent me to Pay 1200$ is it enough to do practicing with that toturials which I collected from the www?

  16. Mariam
    Posted September 28, 2008 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much. Your article really helped. :)

  17. Nina
    Posted October 2, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the article, it’s very helpful.
    By traditional standards I would be an older student and although I love art and learning I don’t feel 100% comfortable returning to school F.T. You mentioned to someone if they can hand-render designs to start a portfolio with those images. Would you mind sharing what kind of materials would work best (and size)? I’ve been reading so many articles on this and I think I’ve overwhelmed myself because now I have so many versions of the same thing in different materials! Thank you so much.

  18. Joseph
    Posted November 19, 2008 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I’m just recently become very curious about becoming a graphic designer, but I have so many unanswered questions.

    I myself have always been a fairly decent artist (I took Advanced Placement art in high school) but have never really ever thought about pursuing graphic design (or any artistic) career. Only because of the ’starving artist’ notion my family had drilled into my brain. But now that I’m out of high school and attending a community college. I’ve been exploring the possibilities and doing research on becoming a graphic designer.

    My main question here is: What is the best path for becoming a successful graphic designer? I know I have the talent for this sort of thing, but I’m not sure what is the best path. Would you say a Bachelor’s Graphic Designer degree from lets say… San Diego State University would be less valuable then a BFA from the Art Institute of San Francisco (SFAI)? The key idea being that SDSU is a University for multiple degrees whereas the SFAI is a specialty fine arts school. Do they even make a difference?

  19. kat
    Posted December 14, 2008 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that article I found it really informative. I have to say though I have gone down the” OPTION B: Self-Study” path and I found it so unrewarding, yes there are all the ‘freebies’ that you are willing to offer, but is your cousins party invitation the way to building a portfolio.My answer is NO, NO, NO! So I am sorry to disagree with such a constructive article, but I have to. The only way to get the jobs is to study and have a solid knowledge of the graphic design foundations. That would involve study of some kind… expensive study. Why is that any study that relates to the graphic design profession so expensive? (my guess is that its in vogue, and it seems that despite the current economy my friends in ad agencies and the like are still super busy and hiring) I haven’t found a program, even online that is under $10000…Ridiculous!!! All i really want to do is gather a bit of these design foundations. I have seen one site, didn’t look too drab, and not expensive… finally( i think about a grand). not wanting to give them a plug because I actually haven’t done the course but if anyone can give me some feedback its http://www.thegraphicdesignschool.com I think that for this price I will give it a shot. I wouldn’t mind a bit of feedback from someone in the industry on the module outlines especially. Its a short self paced course. So Im aware that I wont be graduating with a degree, but who cares I think Im creative and motivated enough to make the most of it. , freelance work doesnt ask for degrees, just a great portfolio.Does it?
    Kat

  20. svab
    Posted December 16, 2008 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    hi
    I am an engineer (electronics and communictaion) by qualification presently in IT industry.Now i feel my talent is getting wasted in IT industry and i want to do something creative may be in advertising or graphic design.Could you tell a suitable start to gt the diversion to advertising field.

  21. Posted January 18, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi,
    Great article..
    I like many others, seem to have a flair for graphic design (and creative video editing), but do not particularly have artistic (drawing) capabilities. I use photoshop and getting better all the time, however I do understand I must learn proper graphic design principles, and also the other programs for page layout.. Couple of questions, if I invest in programs, Illustrator is probably a given, but Indesign? over Quark? (I have access to quark, however, I figured indesign would be easier to learn with it being Adobe..?) Also, as I work full time (I’m 36 yo with family/mort etc) any training needs to be distance learning.. Is there any recommended publications to learn from ? Is it possible to make a career with no formal qualifications ?
    Thanks very much.
    Regards
    Steve (UK)

  22. Riz
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    First of all thanks to all team members of AllGraphicDesign and Elle, article nice and very fruitfull for everybody who wana graphic designer, I would like to introduce myself through this opportunity; I’m working in multinational company as Project Secretary, apart of this I have done my diploma in computer science and well familiar with JAVA, HTML, C++, MS Office, Photoshop (but not as EXPERT in any grphic software), other graphic software also. In spare time since childhood I painted in oil and water colors, pencil sketches, all is GOD GIFTED, never learned from any School of Art, my wish I become a Graphic Designer and change my current profession, but I belong from very poor family not afordable to join any school. My question is that is it possible to learn graphic designing easily and change my profession. Your Guide Line will help for me in future.
    Thanks
    From Riz….
    Doha - Qatar

  23. bhb
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    how much do graphic designers make? from start?

  24. bhb
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    do we need to take photography courses in high school? is it a MUST?

  25. Sabu George
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the post. A good help!!

  26. karim
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    i wanna be entertainment & games graphics designer

  27. Hussain
    Posted February 19, 2009 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    thanx alot
    god bless you

  28. Ayman
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    hi Elle, thanx alot for your greet advice and i wanna ask you aqustion , i’m from egypt and want to learn Graphic design abroad plz help me to find a good school ?

  29. Posted June 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    My goodness, so many questions! So many of you reading this article want to be designers, and I’m thrilled at the enthusiasm!
    I’m sorry I don’t get back to this blog very often. If you have any questions, please visit my website and contact me through there. I will do my best to answer your questions individually.

    Thanks!
    Elle

  30. Rob
    Posted July 16, 2009 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    I am thinking of a career change into graphic design. I really enjoy and am good at cartooning and drawing/painting like Tim Biskup, SHAG etc.. I would love to do illustration art for self employment or advertising. Would graphic design be the right track to take do you think?

  31. Porche'
    Posted August 21, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Hi, my name is Porche’ and I’m currently a high school student. I’ve been interested in Graphic Design since 9th grade and I’m currently a senior. I’ve made a few things (for free of course) logos, invitations, and photo manipulations. I love to retouch photos and make them look perfect. I was wondering, is that enough to be a graphic designer? I know I have alot to learn but sometimes I wonder if I’m on the right track. Also, I’m very critical of my work so I only have one thing in mind for a portfolio. I don’t have money for expensive programs and right now I’m using Photoshop CS2. I don’t really have money to upgrade. Is that going to be a problem for me down the line? And I also wanted to know if I needed to present a portfolio to get into an arts college? Also as a side, I’m terrible at drawing too. I just have the ideas in my head, and try my best to make them come to life.

  32. raheel hussain
    Posted September 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I was just surfing the internet to find more information about graphic design and finally i found this website which is very usefull.
    Q1. I am currently learning Photoshop by watching tutorials on websites so im not very good in it. I am also good in Art specially in sketching.The question is that what is the best thing should we do to go to a Good Graphic Design unversity?
    Q2. What do people who are in University learning Graphic design do?
    Q3. What should i do in Photoshop to become a graphic designer?

  33. ronald fernandez
    Posted September 11, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    elle,
    You have a nice anfd helpful article in this site… And i’m thankful that i found this website.And I am currently learning Photoshop too like raheel hussain. And I love looking Graphics Design in the Web and Im planning to Enroll in a Web graphics design here in our country, but I am scared bout what the first thing to do! I do appreciate photo editing and making some logo but for fun and sometimes i want it for earnings too… And if you dont mind what is Flash is all about? I have Software like CS4 Extended And Corel 12 Graphics Suites what else software is Good for Grpahics Design? What should ido to become a Grphics designer someday? Thank you and more Power!

  34. admin
    Posted September 11, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi Ronald,
    It’s good to hear that you want to pursue a career in graphics design. As far as looking for a good graphics design school, try looking into these articles for some basic tips:
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/what-happens-at-an-online-college.html
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/is-your-college-accredited-some-things-you-need-to-know.html
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/why-should-i-go-to-graphic-design-school.html
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/brick-and-mortar-colleges-or-online-colleges-its-your-move.html

    As far as how to become a graphic designer, it’s all about getting the career training you need from a qualify design school or college. You seem to have the drive to become one, and having Photoshop, CS4, and Corel 12 is a good start. But to know more about how to use these programs effectively will take some time and experience.

    Flash is software that enables you to make animations or graphic presentations. These and other things you need to know will be covered in your courses at your graphic design college or online learning center.

    Take care and good luck to you. I’m sure the other members on here can give you some advice as well.

    -frank

  35. Posted September 19, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    First of all I want to thank you all for supporting this unique career choice. According to me design is sumthing you cant learn, yes you can master different designing softwares, but designing comes from within. Its like you are hungry and you want to cook food but microwave is not working. Even without microwave u ll be able to cook ur food …right?…this is wat happens ,,softwares can make your work faster and easier but deisgning is all comes from within …and i also admire AllGraphicDesign.com////very resoursefull…..bbye take care…enjoy life,,,peace,.

  36. Posted September 19, 2009 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Not anyone can be a graphic designer. This field requires hardwork, dedication and most especially, love and appreciation for art. Software may hasten and lighten work but what’s within and that commitment to give it your best makes that fine thin line between success and failure. Great article.

  37. kitt
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had a few professional artists tell me that I’ve got talent. I do have some raw talent. I have enlisted in a AAS Graphics and Rich Media program at a community collete. I have spoken to an Art Director from a local newspaper and she assured me that an internship is the best way to get my foot in the door. On the other hand, she expressed to me that she hired a lot of interns and that quite a number of them tended to be “too needy.” What are my odds with an AAS, even if I exceed my wildest expectations?

  38. Mp
    Posted January 23, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m really interested in becoming a graphic designer. Right now, I’m in grade 11. The thing is, I felt pressured by my parents to do something “better” and not something “that won’t get me anywhere but the streets” (is what they said).

    I really can’t take it anymore, so I’ve decided to stop the science madness and go for what I really like. I love designing layouts/themes for blogs/etc. I do that in my free time, I use Corel and Gimp. I also love to draw, though I haven’t been in the mood recently.

    What are the chances of actually getting a pretty OK job?
    That’s what worries me the most, with all the negativity that I get from my family. Also, what courses do I need to take in High School?

  39. admin
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi MP,
    Thanks for writing to us and expressing your desire to be a graphic designer. As anyone who has wanted to make it a career in the liberal arts, parents sometimes don’t understand that this is a completely legitimate field for a career. As to your questions about the job market and how to gear your future to a career in the graphic arts, here are a few articles that you may be interested in that appeared on our sister website, graphicdesignbasics.com:

    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/confessions-of-a-liberal-arts-major-my-parents-wanted-a-doctor.html
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/spotlight-on-graphic-artists-designing-your-future.html
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/list-of-things-you-wanted-to-know-about-graphic-design-jobs.html
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/top-characteristics-of-creative-designers-part-i.html
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/top-characteristics-of-creative-designers-part-ii.html
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/is-your-college-accredited-some-things-you-need-to-know.html
    http://www.graphicdesignbasics.com/2009/why-should-i-go-to-graphic-design-school.html

    You’ll find other articles about graphic designers and jobs on this site. Good luck MP!

  40. Ravikumar Nadar
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Iam just above to start my carrier in graphic design but this article has realised my dream come true

  41. heidi
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I am thinking about going back to school to study graphic design but am debating on whether I should enroll in a certificate course (at Sessions.edu online) or enroll at a university for a degree (Academy of Art University. I am currently unemployed and would like to find a job in this field. The degree program at AAU is extremely expensive but I know that is a good school but can I get by with a certificate course? Or do recruiters/design firms prefer someone from a well known university? Or does it all depend on the portfolio? How should I compare between the schools?

2 Trackbacks

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  2. By Jerry on August 17, 2010 at 9:22 pm

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