The world of graphic design has been thriving and expanding every single day. Everything we see around us, from logos to magazines and billboards, are the result of graphic design. It’s something we can’t escape, which only goes to show the wealth of opportunities available for someone who wants to become a graphic designer.
If you’re one among these people and have been toying with the idea of making a career in this field, this guide is for you. Alternatively, you could be a parent who wants their child to become one, and they can read text messages on their child’s phone to ensure they’re focused on their goals.
We dive into what you need to do to pick up the skills necessary, how you can look for opportunities to gain experience until you find the perfect job where you’re able to use your skills to produce stunning designs. Let’s dive in.
Graphic design combines several elements that come together to create the eye-catching visuals we see around us. These include images, typography, visuals, colour, and much more. Understanding these elements better and how they can be combined is key to becoming a successful graphic designer.
Besides these, you must also focus on several principles, some of which include –
- Hierarchy, and so on.
These principles are the basics of graphic design and go a long way in ensuring that you create visuals that actually make an impact on the intended audience. Apart from these, you must also understand colour psychology, alignment, cohesion, and much more, as they play a crucial role in making these visuals more impactful.
Learning and understanding these principles and their importance is extremely easy given the immense knowledge available on the internet. Alternatively, if you’re someone who likes picking up a physical book, you’ll find tons of options in larger bookstores or libraries.
Once you’ve understood the basics, you’re not in the right position to sign up for a course. It’s always recommended that one understand the basics of any domain before signing up for a course in it, as it can make it much easier to understand what’s being taught without fearing falling behind.
Further, learning the basics beforehand ensures that you can ask more questions during the course so that you reap the most benefits of this opportunity.
There are various platforms that offer courses on graphic design. For instance, edX and Udemy are two major MOOC platforms that offer renowned courses on various specialisations in graphic design. Other websites also include Coursera and Skillshare.
One thing to note is that some of these courses can be expensive for some, so if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, you could always check out YouTube University. While you might not get the same depth of information here, it can still serve as a decent starting point.
Graphic designing requires expert knowledge of using tools like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, among several others.
These tools and software offer a variety of features that you can use to design logos, visuals, and even entire web pages. This makes them an indispensable aspect of graphic designing, as without them, creating visuals would be impossible.
However, note that some of these software can be expensive to purchase. So, if you think they cross your budget a little but still want to purchase them, do so only if you’re serious about using these to up your skills. Alternatively, you can download these software from certain websites online, but the only downside is that several of these files will only function when your laptop or computer are disconnected from the internet.
Networking is crucial in any business today, and the same holds true for graphic designing. In fact, several skills that often form part of what’s known as the ‘gig economy’ often relies on extensive and genuine networking, as this can lead to an individual finding a whole host of opportunities.
There are several ways you can do this. The first, of course, is to connect with other people you took your course with. Give that they’re likely to be people with similar interests and goals, staying connected with them, appreciating their work, and learning from them can open the doors to more opportunities and collaborations.
Another way of building connections is through graphic design forums online where you can share your work and network with other people in the same domain. Speak to them about their work, experiences, and skills, and always be willing to learn from them. This goes a long way in making you come across as genuine, and they’re likely to remember you if an opportunity ever strikes.
A third way of building valuable connections is to ask someone you admire as an expert in your domain to mentor you. If they accept this proposal and you prove to be someone with extraordinary skills and a willingness to learn and improve, they’re highly likely to refer you for any opening they’re aware of.
Every single project you work on must become a part of your portfolio. While some people might be reluctant to add their initial work to their portfolio, sometimes, doing so can go a long way to show a trajectory of massive improvement. Potential employers and connections will have the opportunity to see where you started out and where you’ve reached at present. This can be a significant feather in your cap when you’re trying to prove to someone that you’re always good at picking up new skills and improving.
These portfolios must find their way to online platforms like Behance and even LinkedIn as these can be great places for others to view them, appreciate your work, and even reach out to you in the event that they come across an opportunity they think you’re well suited for.
Regardless of which industry you’re in, it’s crucial that you keep up with the times. The same goes for graphic design. It’s crucial that you always keep your ear to the ground and track the latest trends, ideas, and work that the most renowned and recognised designers in your industry are doing.
Follow all the relevant hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, follow these personalities on this platform, and others such as Twitter, Behance, YouTube, and more. This way, you’ll always be aware of what they’re doing and pioneering. You’ll get to learn new things and experiment with new styles and skills.
If you feel like you’d like to speak to them or learn from them, never hesitate to reach out. Given that these people are often very busy and probably get messages from thousands of people every day, it’s best that you take some time to figure out how to reach out to them such that they’re prompted to open your message. Emailing them is one way you can do this.
Before we move on to the next section, here’s another thing you can do. While you will follow people whose work you like, also follow those whose work doesn’t appeal to you. This way, you’ll always be able to compare their work, understand it better, and get a better grasp of what they could do better. This way, you’ll be able to learn from what you consider to be good and bad examples and put your best foot forward.
Creative people often find inspiration for their work in everyday things around them. If you come across something that catches your eye or inspires you, try keeping a record of it. If it’s something you come across when you set out to the grocery store, take a picture of it and write a short note on what you liked about it.
If you’re scrolling through Instagram, for instance, save a picture or video you come across so that you can always come back to it when you feel inspired and want to channel that into a new project.
You can do the same thing on Pinterest. If you find designs or ideas you like, add them to a Pinterest board dedicated to graphic design ideas. This way, you’ll never have to worry about losing out on these resources when you want to use them later.
Often, the most valuable part of some work you like is not the finished product but the process itself. If you come across a design, you like online, download or save the image and import it into Adobe Illustrator. Then, try reverse-engineering it to figure out the possible techniques and tools the artist might have used to make it. This way, while you might use tools and techniques that you’re already familiar with, you’ll also be able to learn and master new ones.
This can be a fantastic way of learning new skills without depending on any external resources like a course, mentor, or friend.
Sometimes, you might even discover techniques that you feel like the artist possibly could have used. This way, you’ll develop a good eye for critiquing, which can be an extremely useful skill as a graphic designer who aims to dive deeper into the industry.
Remember that you don’t always have to do this alone. If you ever feel stuck trying to reproduce someone’s work, you can always reach out to your network and ask them for help. Who knows, they might know how to do it, and you’ll be able to learn how to use a new tool or technique.
Once you feel like you’ve picked up on a good deal of skills and have the experience to try your hands at something you’ve wanted to do for a while, take it up as a passion project. Make a plan, jot down ideas in a notebook, and think of the different ways you can execute it.
Don’t hesitate to run your idea by someone you truly trust and get their feedback. You never know; they might just give you some tips and ideas that can help take your project to the next level.
Once you start executing it, remember that there will be times when you might feel overwhelmed and might want to give up. Whenever you feel this way, take a break and do something that helps you feel calmer. Wrap up for work for the day and return to it the next day when you feel better. At the end of it, all your hard work and the final output will make the journey feel like it was worth it.
Once you’re satisfied with your work, don’t hesitate to share it online on platforms Behance or Instagram. If you’d like, you can even share it with your mentors or people you respect and trust and get their feedback.
With a project that you’re so proud of that demonstrates your skills, you’ll now be ready to make your way into the thick of the industry. However, don’t feel bogged down if you haven’t decided on a passion project yet, but still want to work. Inspiration can strike at any time, and it doesn’t have to be before you get your first job. As long as you’ve built a strong portfolio for yourself, you can put yourself out there and start monetising your skills.
As you can see, the world of graphic design has so much to offer in terms of knowledge and practical experience. With the right skills and approach, you can make a mark in this industry.
This guide has listed all the key steps you must take if you’re serious about graphic design. When you see immense success someday, you might even start your own business with several employees. This is when you’ll also need tracking apps to ensure their productivity.
So take this article as a guide and start your journey on the path to becoming a graphic designer.