Eighth In Series: Top 10 Tips for Getting Started with Graphic Design

By Jason McClain | June 19, 2016 | 1 Comment

Eighth In Series: Top 10 Tips for Getting Started with Graphic Design

Graphic design is a noble trade for sure and I commend those who pursue it or have a knack for it. After all, graphic designers color and mold the world to create beauty and aesthetically pleasing physical and digital products. Graphic design plays a very important role in branding, and we all know that branding is huge right now. People are branding everything from products and services to themselves. If you want a profession that has and will continue to stand the test of time, graphic design is one of the few.

You can become a graphic designer with or without going to college for it, although a degree is preferred. I certainly don’t want to take away from the importance of education, but with all of the resources available online, it is possible to gain a good bit of the knowledge to achieve graphic design success on the Internet.

10 Tips For Getting Started in Graphic Design

  1. Understand what graphic design is and the qualities of a good designer. Graphic design ranges from logos to package design to letterheads and business cards, yet it’s even more than that. A good graphic designer understands basic artistic elements, is creative, and has a knack for design while easily understanding business, technology, and computers.
  2. Begin in high school. It’s never too early to begin developing the skills of a good designer. If your high school offers courses in business, computers, and art, take everything that you can.
  3. Decide what level of college education you would like to pursue. Most areas have a variety of programs for graphic design that range from a 2-year associates degree up to a Masters degree. Obviously, the higher your level of education, the better your opportunities.
  4. Cover designs that inspire you. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Duplicating good design for educational purposes and experience is a great way to learn. The Internet is actually chock full of great tutorials to help you do just that.
  5. Don’t shy away from criticism. In fact, seek it out. Being able to take constructive criticism will be instrumental in helping you become a better designer.
  6. Create a professional portfolio. It will most likely be necessary for you to have both a physical and digital portfolio. There are online communities where you can showcase your skills such as Behance or DeviantArt. Your physical portfolio would consist of a small briefcase style portfolio filled with black cardboard boards with your best work mounted to them flawlessly. All of your best work should appear in your portfolio. In some cases, an immaculate portfolio will supersede a degree.
  7. Decide if you want to work for an agency, firm, or be a freelance graphic designer. Graphic design is one of the few professions that allows you the choice of working for yourself or someone else. You may want to start out with a firm to get the experience and strike out on your own once you’ve got the hang of it.
  8. Develop a thick skin. The graphic design industry is competitive. Understand that you may have a tough time finding a job, as well as landing one.
  9. Remember, sometimes the best designs are the simplest ones. Think Nike Swoosh or the McDonald’s logo. Neither design is very complex, but they are both recognized by the entire world even if no words accompany the image.
  10. Have fun. Being a creator in any form is great fun and graphic design is certainly no exception. You’ll gain a great sense of accomplishment from art every time. If it’s not fun for you, don’t do it for a living.

Wrap Up

As with any profession, you have to keep learning to stay relevant. Graphic design is the same way. While some rules of good design and general principles will stay the same, technology will always dictate an evolution in the marketplace and part of your job is stay on the cutting edge. Are there any designers in the house? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


26 September, 2016 Reply

Very helpful, it really taught me how much I actually do not know.

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