How to Become a Graphic Designer

This post is the first post in a series of posts on art-related careers. I want shed some light into a few of the many opportunities that exist for those who want to pursue a career in the visual arts, but aren’t sure where to start or what it takes. In this post, we’ll take a look at how to become a graphic designer.

Graphic designers work in almost every industry and can be found in almost every business. Even small businesses, at some point, will need the services of a graphic designer.

Graphic designers may work as salaried staff for a company, advertising agency, or design firm. Many graphic designers work as “freelancers” and receive pay as jobs are completed. Freelancers may work for many companies or individuals. Since a steady pay check is not guaranteed from freelancing, many graphic designers prefer to work in a salaried position. However, the savvy freelancing designer can make a healthy income.

What Do They Do?

Graphic designers also have a wide variety of duties. Some graphic designers work to produce print materials. Print assignments might include designing advertisements, business cards, brochures, posters, flyers, letterhead, magazine layouts, product packaging and so on. Logo design and brand identity may be included as print design. Graphic designers that specialize in the print industry must have a knowledge of the lastest printing processes and surfaces. Knowledge of printing is essential to print design.

Some graphic designers specialize in digital media. These designers may build websites, create interactive programing or animations, and digital imagery. Graphic designers that specialize in digital media typically need to have a strong knowledge of software designed for web development. A knowledge of coding languages helps as well.

Many graphic designers work both in the print and digital arena. Some designers are better at creating imagery for print while others are better suited for digital media. Virtually all graphic designers work mostly with the aid of the computer. Graphic programs like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are used by most graphic designers. A knowledge of these professional programs is required for the modern designer.

How Do I Become One?

Nearly every working graphic designer has a college degree. Since it is a competitive field, it is recommended to aspiring designers to receive a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree in graphic design. Graphic design is a four year degree, although some schools offer a fifth year. When choosing a school, be sure to pick one that will prepare you for both the print and digital markets. Also look for a school that has a good record of their graduates finding design work after graduation. Since graphic design is an art major, the classes that you will take as part of your coursework will include some traditional art classes like drawing and painting. The final two years of most programs focus on the development of a portfolio. It is also recommended that graphic design majors take a few business classes. Designers that have a strong understanding of how business and advertising works, will undoubtably be better prepared for success. Many designers will work as part of an internship before landing full-time work.

How Much Do They Make?

The salary for graphic designers varies greatly. Most designers make a median income ($50,000 – $60,000). These figures can vary from region to region. Those that own their own firms or are well-known can expect to make more, while those just starting out can expect less.

Graphic design is a great art-related field where you can flex your creative muscles and make art for a living.

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