Graphic design constantly gains popularity. More and more people are choosing to become a designer. S0 it doesn’t surprise you that numerous universities offer specializations in the field. Choosing a path of education seems to be the best way to learn design and change the world for the better.
However, is uni the only and the best way to become a designer? In this article, I will take a look at alternative ways that are available out there and can help you start your career.
When I was graduating from high school, the term ‘graphic design’ didn’t tell me anything. During five years of education, art photography was my passion and direction. However, during my graduation year, I wanted a change. Frankly, the graphic design was a pretty blind choice.
In retrospect, I can admit that graphic education has its pros and cons. This article will help you to choose your source of knowledge wisely and gain more in the area of graphic design.
High school – for those who already know their passion
Many high schools have courses that will help you get started as a graphic designer. The goal of design majors is to prepare students to take up a job as a designer shortly after completing their education. Does it work? Hard to say. It all depends on what we want to do and how motivated we are. However, if you work hard a good chance that your skills will be sufficient to start working in graphic design field.
Studies – design and other faculties
Opinions on higher education in design fields are divided. I graduated from Fine Art University myself and I can point out a few pros that were associated with it. However, I would also find here some rather significant cons.
Pros of studying graphic design
Certainly, one of the biggest advantages is establishing contacts with other designers. And sometimes even able to directly seek advice from experts. If you want to follow a less commercial and more artistic direction, the university will give you the opportunity to experiment and certainly find the niche that suits you best.
Cons of studying graphic design
In my experience, art colleges lack practical knowledge about commercial work, and the projects we create there are often detached from reality. And so by finishing university, we believe that we will be able to create artistic projects that will change the world. The truth, however, lies elsewhere. Most of the work on the market is not creative and closely related to production. This is a brutal reality check for a new graphic designer. There is a lack of valuable marketing knowledge, how to run your own company, pitching the project and finding clients.
After a short interview on Internet forums among people who graduated from such courses after 2015, it turns out that the situation hasn’t changed much.
In addition to design majors, you can also consider choosing the faculties that are not directly related to computer graphics, but which will perfectly complement your technical skills. Marketing, PR or management can be such directions. This will definitely help you in running your own business after graduation.
A good way to gain knowledge is through an internship. Usually, when applying for an internship in an agency or in a design studio, you must already have some knowledge about design. As a beginner, you should first and foremost have a basic knowledge of software and design principles. In addition, what you may need is simply passion.
My advice when looking for an internship. Be sure what you are interested in. If it’s branding and logo design choose a company that specializes in it. In your application, show that you already have some knowledge on this subject. Everyone knows that you are just learning, but your interest and passion can win you a place in a decent company. Show why you care about working there. Prove that you know their portfolio and their values.
Remember – it matters how you start. If you choose the no-name agency, which goes for the numbers, not the quality, it is very likely that you will acquire bad habits and it will be difficult for you to create a portfolio that will attract more interesting job offers.
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Online courses on graphic design
The online course industry is booming and it’s worth to give it a try. Platforms like Udemy or Skillshare give you the opportunity to learn from professionals for a really reasonable price. Additionally, many of them have forums where you can ask questions and where the professor will answer your doubts. You can also focus only on what interests you, and the courses are updated depending on changes in the industry.
YouTube as a source of knowledge
When I was undergoing a crisis related to my work a few years ago, it was hard for me to break free from the stalemate … YouTube came to for rescue. In fact, thanks to it I was able to get out of the crisis and catch the draft. I owe this above all to The Futur team, from which I learned business thinking and respecting my own time and skills. Thanks to YouTub I am where I am now. Thanks to the information I found there, I learned more in a few months than during 5 years of university.
YouTube channels for designers to follow:
The Futur – strategy, design, design business
Bobby Chiu – for illustrators, concept art, charachter design
Micheal Janda – how to work with the client, how to build a portfolio, how to sell your project
Flux – design, website design, client work
Podcasts (not only about graphic design)
Although they use just a voice and will not teach you how to design, podcasts can be useful when you want to become a freelancer and run your own business. I listen to some interesting authors myself, not necessarily related to computer graphics, but focused on marketing and business, which is useful when we want to attract new customers and enter the design market.
Creative workshops and conferences
These are some of the best ways to meet people and learn many useful skills related to computer graphics. First of all, we have the opportunity to observe changes in design, the latest trends and have contact with the best of the best. Ask questions and get answers.
Books on design and more
One of the best investments you can make is to buy books that will stay with you forever. These are not only books closely related to design but also those that will allow you to run your business and develop a freelancer career.
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What else to remember before you decide to become a graphic designer
Although graphic design constantly grows popularity, there are some myths that revolve around it. If you want to learn how to design, remember these few things:
- Uni is not everything. Remember to study outside the university,
- A diploma doesn’t guarantee you a job. You need self-denial and something that will make you stand out, so that you have a chance of breaking through,
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- Find your niche and know what interests you in design,
- Experiment and make valuable contacts,
- Use different sources of knowledge, do not focus only on one,
- Inspire yourself and make contacts with experts. In the era of social media, it’s easier than ever.