Graphic designers create visual communications observed each and every day, every moment, across the world. Designers create entertainment, advertising, news and features from all types, such as print publications (magazines, newspapers and brochures) and digital and broadcast media such as game machines, tv, internet browsers, social platforms and portable devices. As technology continually grows in sophistication, so too expand the responsibilities and skills of graphic designers.
This detailed career and level guide examine the use of graphic designers, the most-common paths into the profession, as well as available programs and colleges. It is rounded out with a review of project growth estimates in the area and salaries, by state, for graphic design professionals.
WHAT DOES A GRAPHIC DESIGNER DO?
GRAPHIC DESIGN CAREER BASICS
Graphic designers communicate inspirational and informative ideas in advertisements, brochures and other marketing communications materials. Some graphic designers work for specialized design companies as part of a collaborative team, while some are self-explanatory and operate independently. Printing and digital designers utilize sophisticated graphics tools to manipulate text, images, animations, and color.
Most graphic designers work fulltime to meet deadlines. Self-employed graphic designers have to be elastic, as customers sometimes must satisfy during evening and weekend hours. As with so many businesses, client service and customer satisfaction are keys to success. Additionally, achievement as a graphic designer involves learning how to bidding on contracts, market services and produce an ongoing customer base.
GRAPHIC DESIGN IN-DEPTH
Communication lies at the heart of a graphic designer’s job. While their responsibilities may involve extensive work with images, unlike artists they don’t create”art for art’s sake.” Graphic designers should get across a particular message and call-to-action or emotion-based in their own customer’s objectives. For instance, a graphic designer may be tasked with creating a brand or logo that makes a lasting impression on customers, incorporating a special shape or color scheme.
Although much graphic design work is done on the computer, it can also be multimedia in nature, or use motion graphics. Projects may have to be optimized for viewing on a range of digital platforms, such as web browsers, tablet devices and cellular phones, that’s the fastest growing industry within the specialty. In addition to mastering general all-around abilities, designers may specialize in a particular graphics area.
More typical specialties include:
Branding and Advertising (print, Internet broadcast)
Email Blasts and eNewsletters
Interface or User Experience Design
Printing or Internet Production
While designers may operate more frequently in a favorite media, specialization is not necessary for achievement. Most graphic designers like working for a variety of customers to keep their career options available. Many specializations leads to flexibility, nevertheless, and can expand clientele and increase overall opportunities.
GRAPHIC DESIGN SALARIES AND JOB OUTLOOK
Graphic Layout SalariesSalaries for graphic designers are variable across the nation, based on factors such as experience, education, type of company and geographical location. According to the BLS, the median national annual wage for graphic designers in 2014 was 45,900, whereas the top 10 percent of graphic designers earned over $77,490. Graphic designers using the greatest salaries are generally people that have advanced training and that operate for specialized design companies. Payscale.com reports that the towns of San Francisco, Washington D.C. and New York pay the greatest salaries, together with San Francisco graphic artists earning a median wage of $54,711. Self-employed designers earn up to $20,000 more per year than people operating in other configurations, according to Payscale.
The BLS reports the very best paying states and 2014 mean annual salaries of graphic designers as:
District of Columbia $72,820
New York $60,560
Use the map below to compare graphic design salary estimates by state:
Job rates for graphic designers are expected to rise by 7 percent throughout the 2012-2022 decade, according to the BLS. This growth rate is smaller than the national average for all tasks throughout the projection period, for a range of reasons. On account of this rapid development and deployment of digital media, the market for graphic designers in print media has seriously slowed, making designers that can operate both in digital and printing more attractive. The BLS says occupations using”newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers” will decrease by 16 percent throughout the decade. On the reverse side, jobs for graphics professionals in computer systems design and related services will discover a powerful 35 percent increase in job openings, especially in areas of web-based graphics production, portable devices, and video entertainment.
Competition for new occupations, the BLS forecasts, will be rigid. In all, 17,400 new openings at the livelihood are anticipated over the projection decade. The greatest amount of regional hires are anticipated (so ) from the Northeast, Sunbelt, West Coast, and Midwest. The BLS websites the next states with the largest growth potential and present the greatest variety of professionals in the graphic design area:
Top cities for using graphic designers, according to The Atlantic Magazine’s City Lab, are:
Washington, D.C.Salt Lake City
Select a state below for more information about employment and job development for graphic designers
STEPS TO BECOMING A GRAPHIC DESIGNER
1 START BUILDING YOUR SKILLS IN HIGH SCHOOL
It never hurts to start early in any area, but it’s particularly important when it comes to graphic design. While in high school, students should take classes in art history, drawing, graphic arts, and web site design. They can place their emerging abilities to utilize designing and making the school newspaper or yearbook. Graphic design takes a fantastic eye and creative thoughts, but also tantamount is the evolution of solid practical abilities and software fluency. The sooner the pupil starts preparations, the better.
2 EARN A DEGREE IN GRAPHIC DESIGN
There was a time when a graphic designer might get hired strictly in their creative portfolio. Today, however, most companies are searching for designers with a more comprehensive and well-rounded education — the sort just a college degree can offer. A certificate in the specialty, or an associate’s degree, maybe adequate in some cases, however, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that fledgling designers are considerably more likely to land a quality job just after earning a bachelor’s degree.
There are now approximately 300 post-secondary associations at the U.S. that provide degree programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. School options run the gamut from large public universities to small private schools, to prestigious art institutes. There are also a growing number of online programs available. Coursework covers a vast range of topics, such as studio art, principles of design, commercial graphics, web design, advertising and graphics-related computer engineering. Classes in marketing and company may be part of this program as well, since designers need to be able to compile and publish professional job proposals, and efficiently market themselves to potential customers.
Regardless of the particular amount they select, graphic design students should search for an accredited program from a reputable school.
3 COMPLETE INTERNSHIPS
Not all faculty programs in graphic designing need internships, but people that do provide students an exceptional opportunity to gain practical experience, to form professional relationships in the design community, and total job suitable for presentation in their own portfolio or layout”book”.
4 CREATE A COMPELLING PORTFOLIO
As a strong resume is an important aspect of any job search, the largest asset to someone trying to find a job in graphic design is an impressive portfolio. Though graphic designers may require a resume, the only way to get a potential employer to understand an applicant’s abilities is by way of a portfolio demonstrating a range of labour and development as a designer.
There was a time when a graphic design portfolio was a very simple group of a designer’s best newspaper and magazine advertisements. Professional portfolios today are a lot more sophisticated, consisting not just of print ads, but also including online advertisements, site graphics, and just a television commercial reel and animation demonstration. It’s not unusual for job seekers today to carry entirely digital versions of the own portfolio on CD or DVD together — along with the more traditional paper version — and many designers also maintain their own up-to-date layout portfolio sites.
For students just starting out, introducing a large and varied portfolio is tough given the limited amount of finished work they will have done. In that case, they ought to concentrate on quality instead of quantity, presenting their very best design samples, and a portfolio arranged to meet a potential employer’s special needs.
5 STAY CURRENT
Graphic design is a constantly changing and growing area. Designers need to stay informed about the commercial and artistic trends in the business — they may find themselves immediately left behind. They need to also remain current on new and updated computer graphics and layout software programs, that are at a near-constant state of development. This is particularly true for designers working as freelancers, and for all those interested in advancing to higher positions in their companies.
Organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts or the Graphic Artists Guild supply members with educational updates on new technologies, software or methodology. Completing certification programs in vendor-specific design software can also help construct credentials.
6 RETURN TO SCHOOL
Graphic designers may decide to advance their abilities, creativity and profound understanding of the area by simply adding a graduate level or post-secondary certificate. There are master’s degree programs created specifically for designers wanting to advance in theoretical research (MA) or concentrate on their work on a studio level (MFA).
A fantastic design college will absolutely get you to the ideal track to becoming a talented, qualified professional. But, it is not really in the cards for everyone. Fortunately, you can still meet your dream of being a designer without a formal education, as long as you have the drive and dedication to pull off it.
Design School: Important or Not?
As far as the style market is concerned, the debate rages on. You can’t really blame people for believing that design college isn’t really as important as the business makes it out to be. After all, the most important aspect of creating fantastic design is creativity, something that people are born together and grow through the years, and perhaps not something that you learn from textbooks and modules.
But again, your creativity alone won’t really get you anywhere in the event that you don’t understand the basics of design. No matter how unique your theories are, you would also have to show them in the most professional way possible, especially in the event that you want to make a critical career from it. This is the place where the value of suitable design education comes from. It teaches you the basics and also the ins and outs of each possible tool and concept that you’ll have to advance from the particular market you want to concentrate on.
Design School Drawbacks
The drawback to designing college? It is fairly straightforward. Not only does this cost a chance to go to design school, it also takes up at least four years of your lifetime. Here is something that is simply not feasible for many folks, especially if they don’t have the financial capacity. A good deal of children have to start working the minute they reach legal age, just how can they keep their heads above water in the brief term without having to sacrifice their long-term dream?
Understand the fundamental basics of graphic layout
You want a good foundation in graphic design history, theory and practical application in case you are planning to make it as a graphic designer. This superb manual from Tuts+ is a must-read and should be your first port of call.
Next, have a look at this superb class, Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory & Application by Richard Mehl, that has taught two-dimensional design, color theory and typography at the School of Visual Arts for more than 12 years. It is only one of many brilliant classes on Creative Live that will teach you the fundamentals of the craft.
If you are pushed for time or want to learn”on the move”, then take a peek at these most effective creative podcasts that we have assembled.
Purchase the ideal books and read them cover to pay
There are so many beautiful books on the topic of graphic design that it is challenging to pick a high . On the other hand, the next names are highly recommended and offer a nice summary to teach you graphic layout.
For additional inspiration, look at these 50 essential design books, one we put together earlier for Creative Boom. Or you can go to Shillington’s own Book Club with tons of recommended books added each month.
1. Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann
From a professional for professionals, here is the keyword on using grid systems in graphic design. Although Josef Muller-Brockman first introduced hi interpretation of power 1961, his book — Grid Systems in Graphic Design — remains practical today for anyone operating in the latest computer-assisted layout.
With examples about the best way best to work properly at a conceptual level and exact instructions for using all the systems (8 to 32 areas ), this guidebook gives a crystal-clear framework for difficulty.
Priced at #25.97 | Purchase the Book
2. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
Renowned typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst brings clarity to the art of typography with this authoritative style manual, The Elements of Typographic Style.
Combining the practical, theoretical, and historical, this latest edition is totally updated, with a comprehensive exploration of the newest innovations in smart font technologies. It’s a must-have for graphic artists, editors, or anyone working with all the printed page using digital or traditional procedures.
Priced at #18.10 | Purchase the Book
3. Logo: The Reference Guide To Symbols and Logotypes by Michael Evamy
Logo: The Reference Guide to Symbols and Logotypes by Michael Evamy is a comprehensive manual to logo design and a compendium of some of the most iconic logotype designs during history.
It comprises a vast assortment of over 1,300 symbols and logotypes in the work of past masters, such as Paul Rand and Saul Bass, alongside a number of their most exciting work from contemporary designers. Containing work filed by over 150 design companies from across the Earth, what are categorized into 75 areas according to their own distinctive visual features or characteristics.
Priced at #9.06 | Purchase the Book
4. The way to be a Graphic DesignerWithout Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy
Graphic designers constantly complain that there isn’t any career manual to guide them throughout the profession. Design consultant and author Adrian Shaughnessy draws on a wealth of expertise to provide such a handbook. (Have a look at our Shillington talk with Adrian from last year also.)
Aimed at the independent-minded, How to Become a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul addresses the issues of young designers that want to earn a living by doing expressive and meaningful work and avoid getting a hired drone working on soulless projects.
It provides straight-talking advice about the best way best to establish your style career and tips for running a thriving organization.
This revised, extended version incorporates all-new chapters covering professional abilities, the creative process, and global tendencies, such as green issues, integrity and the growth of digital civilization.
Priced at #15.56 | Purchase the Book
5. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team from Alina Wheeler
This book is a bestselling toolkit for creating, building, and maintaining a strong brand. From research and analysis into brand strategy; design development through to application layout; individuality standards through to launch and governance — Designing Brand Identity provides brand managers, marketers, and designers a proven, universal five-phase procedure for creating and executing valid brand identity.
Enriched by case studies showcasing powerful world-class brands, the book takes a detailed look at the latest trends in branding, such as social networks, cellular devices, global markets, apps, video, and virtual brands.
Priced at #25.69 | Purchase the Book
6. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students by Ellen Lupton
Thinking with Type is a straightforward primer that introduces practical information about the typographic layout that can be immediately applied within the context of design history and theory. It’s broken up into three segments — text, letter, grid each accompanied by an essay explaining key concepts, and a pair of practical demonstrations illustrating that material.
Thinking with Type is a state-of-the-art pedagogical tool that will be essential reading for anyone who wants to learn design skills.
Priced at #14.88 | Purchase the Book
Acquire the ideal installation
I am not going to sugarcoat it graphic layout can be pricey when it comes to setup. You are going to require a laptop, desktop computer, the ideal software (a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud is a must), a Pantone color guide and perhaps a pencil tablet computer, such as a Wacom Intuos.
When money is tight, then hit eBay for used gear or delight in a one-year warranty courtesy of Apple and its own Certified Refurbished products.
If you are heading down the digital layout course, then Sketch is a superb affordable piece of software and one we teach at Shillington alongside Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
Learn how to use the tools of this trade
No graphic designer can live with no software. That’s why you will need the time to master what’s available. Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are the obvious choices — and there are tutorials that will assist you to get started.
These consumer guides and tutorials for Photoshop and InDesign are incredibly helpful, for example. Then there is Sketch, using its documentation to reveal the principles.
Elsewhere, you may also try one of the many how-to tutorials, classes or eBooks courtesy of Tuts+. Or there is Creative Live or even Skillshare which offers seriously superior layout classes from several of the planet’s most admired names in the business — not denying Lynda where all classes are now also available on LinkedIn Learning.
Teaching yourself is possible but challenging. You will also have to get away from the computer to profit from face-to-face interactions with different individuals to genuinely develop into a successful designer.
Get inspiration from established performers
Start after the industry’s greatest and finest graphic designers. See what they are sharing on Twitter and read on their sites. Get motivated by their job and career intelligence.
At Shillington, we frequently invite leading figures from the sector to come and talk to our pupils. We welcomed Hey Studio creator Verònica Fuerte into our London campus. She also delivered a talk on her company’s approach to style as well as their studio culture and creative perspective.
We have also interviewed and gained advice from Build, IDEO, The A Board Dude, Jane Bowyer and Studio Dotto.
Learn what’s happening in the local area and visit as many talks and events as you can. If you are based in Manchester, as an example, then there is PechaKucha each month. Or great annual festivals such as Layout Manchester. At Shillingtonwe have our very own handy events listings, detailing what’s happening near our campuses in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
Start your online portfolio
Whether you utilize Squarespace or Wix to create your site or make use of online communities such as Behance, an internet portfolio is essential if you want to find that job in graphic design.
You will want to showcase your very best job and present yourself as professionally as you can, as you only get one chance to make a first impression. Read this advice on creating a portfolio that is successful.
Not have any work to show? Reinvent someone’s emblem or think of a cool side project that showcases your abilities. Do not be afraid to roll your sleeves up to create some seriously wonderful work. Or read on to our next suggestion.
Take a graphic design class
Yes, okay. The entire purpose here is to put you into the graphic style without any formal education. But at Shillingtonwe believe in the power of face-to-face education, and our innovative approach means you will achieve amazing results in a badly brief amount of time.
Study graphic layout in 3 months fulltime or 2 weeks part-time in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and graduate with a polished portfolio showcasing your very best job, ready to land your dream project.
We enable you to get there by maintaining our assignments brief and sweet, saving lots of time to put your new skills into practice and create your layout eye. Through engaging demonstrations, dynamic talks, business lectures and class workshops, we proceed fast and mentor students to function as professional designers, after transparent processes and meeting tight deadlines using polished outcomes.
Double-check you have ticked off everything the listing
Aside from our amazingly beneficial checklist on what you want to be a graphic designer, are you sure you satisfy the prerequisites for a professional designer?
Have you ever really looked at job descriptions to be sure you satisfy the criteria? Graduate career website Prospects provides an informative graphic designer job profile to give you an idea about what companies are searching for.
For instance, it is not only about being able to utilize Photoshop; you also have to have excellent presentation skills, accuracy and attention to detail, a flexible approach when working at a team — all these are things that you pick up at the workplace. So with that in mind…
. . .Get some work experience
Not only is work experience great for the CV; it allows you to have someone as a reference, i.e. someone who can urge you as soon as it comes to the crunch. You may also gain some good jobs to add to your portfolio or impress so much that you get offered a paid internship or work!
7 Steps to Become a Graphic Designer
1. The Basics – Construct Your Foundation
Learn Basic Drawing Skills
Learn Graphic Design Theory — Typography, Color Theory, & Grid Systems
Learn the Basics of User Experience
Learn Website Design Best Practices
Learn Professional Copywriting
Learn the Art of Critique
2. Master the Software
Learn Adobe Photoshop®
Learn Adobe Illustrator®
Learn Adobe InDesign®
3. Earn a Degree in Graphic Design or Related Field
4. Pick an Area of Specialization
Online Design and Digital Design
5. Construct a Stand-Out Portfolio
6. Start Your Own Career
7. Understand Business Basics – Contracts, Marketing, & More
Best 700+ graphic design resumes by Canva: https://www.canva.com/templates/search/graphic-design-resumes/