Graphic designers are a passionate lot. The few interviewed for this article all had one thing in common: They’ve been interested in graphic design for as long as they can remember. Is graphic design the web working career for you?
Graphic Design Career
It’s important to highlight the distinction between web design and graphic design. Those who do graphic design concentrate mostly on print work. They create designs for annual reports, advertisements, brochures, billboards, logos and design identity packages complete with letterhead, envelopes and business cards.
How to Qualify
Unlike many web designers, graphic designers tend to have some formal design education. Lea Ann Stundins worked as a creative director for several agencies before switching to self-employment with her business, Wish List Creative. “The best advice I would offer young people trying to break into design is: go to an art school that has a good reputation according to your ideal design firm/agency. (Ask them, they’ll tell you.) Get an internship at a ‘big name’ agency or design firm. Do anything you have to in order to get that name on your resume. Then, with that school name and that agency name — and a good portfolio, of course — you should be golden,” says Stundins.
Cynthia Courtney, designer and creator of cool stuff, took jobs working with designers she respected so she could learn from them. Although Courtney has a degree in communications design with a minor in illustration, she continues her education by taking courses in Photoshop, business and marketing. “Anyone can use a computer and do a layout with fancy type. Doing it well by creating a piece that solves a client’s problem and can be printed is a whole different ballgame,” says Courtney.
Stundins lists the important things in her designer toolbox. “My brain mostly. My fingers. A pencil. Paper. Finally, a computer,” she says. Photoshop leads the pack as the “go to” graphic design tool for photo retouching, InDesign is used for page layout, with Illustrator being the choice for logo creation and line art.
Like Stundins, many rely on old-fashioned pencil-and-paper to work through ideas before heading to their Macs turn ideas into pixels. Designers use many ancillary tools such as Acrobat, Stuffit, file transfer protocol (FTP) tools, and file-sharing sites like YouSendIt to send work to clients.
Like many web working careers, marketing remains important. However, most graphic designers find their gigs through word-of-mouth and networking.
Are you considering a career in graphic design?
Photo credit: Tsunei Miyuki