Graphic designers use technology to tell stories in meaningful ways, from the packaging of your favorite chocolate bar to the logo on your t-shirt and everything in between. Graphic design is a diverse industry and one of the most popular choices for creative students looking for a rewarding career.
Whether you’re working for an agency or running your own business, the demand for skilled graphic designers grows year after year. If you’re a student struggling to get a start in the industry, read on.
Today we’ll discuss the various ways you can get a head-start in the industry without any prior experience. We’ll cover the practical steps that will get the ball rolling and the qualities all budding graphic designers need to succeed.
The Character Traits of Graphic Designers
At this point, you might be wondering if a career in graphic design is really for you. According to creativeboom.com there are 10 essential traits of a successful graphic designer. Chances are, if you have more than half of these traits (or are willing to work on them), you have what it takes to become successful.
A great designer is able to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. They’re curious about the world and the details, and they’re able to take criticism without taking it personally. The most successful graphic designers are also open-minded, patient, reliable and tend to be critical thinkers.
Sound like you? Here’s where to start.
Learn the Principles of Design
You don’t need a doctorate in design to become a successful graphic designer. What you do need is an understanding of the core principles, a desire to learn, and the ability to take constructive feedback. One of the best ways to expose yourself to quality ideas is to read.
Reading allows you to think in the same way as the author, and it’s also a great way to increase your design vocabulary and witness the creative processes of some of the most effective designers in the world. Color, line, scale, shape, alignment and contrast are all examples of concepts you’ll be using on a daily basis.
While there are hundreds of great books on the various subcategories of design, here are some of the best:
- The designers dictionary of color by Sean Adams,
- Geometry of design by Kimberly Elam,
- Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
- How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul by Adrian Shaughnessy.
1) Do a Course
Reading alone is not enough to learn a practical skill like the design; you must also practise. While there are numerous free resources available on how to upgrade your skills, completing an online course is one of the best ways to get stuck in the world of graphic design.
They’ll give you foundational knowledge and show prospective employers that you know what you’re talking about. You’ll also collect some high-quality samples to use in your portfolio.
For those looking to study graphic design, there are many different options from a full-blown university degree to practical online certifications like adobe certified associate (ACA), the graphic design Bootcamp offered by Udemy or Google UX design professional certificate.
2) Design Your Resume and Portfolio
A professional portfolio is a creative resume that shows prospective employers what you’re capable of. It’s also a good idea to design the overall look of your actual resume to practice what you’ve learned about typesetting, color, alignment and contrast, among other things.
If writing isn’t your strong suit, essay generator can help you. The best way to showcase your portfolio is by building your own website. There are hundreds of web hosting options out there like WordPress, Wix or Squarespace. If you haven’t yet completed the first piece for your portfolio, this is your chance.
Creating your own website is the ideal way to gain valuable design experience while also working on your online presence, and growing your network.
3) Learn the Major Tools/Software
Graphic designers use software design tools on a daily basis. Some of the best are Adobe illustrator/photoshop/InDesign, Canva, and Gravity designer. While there are many options out there, it’s hard to look past Adobe when it comes to reputation.
As mentioned above, Adobe provides their own courses, so it’s relatively simple to gain a thorough understanding of the software through a course designed by the creators themselves.
As we’ve seen, highly skilled graphic designers are in high demand. Students looking to pursue a career in design have the option of studying a degree at university, recognised courses from industry leaders like Adobe and Google, or completing any number of online courses and building their own portfolios from scratch.
What remains a good idea, either way, is adopting the mindset of a learner, being genuinely passionate and curious about the industry, being comfortable with the software and having the communication skills to present yourself to the world and tell your own story.