To become a graphic designer you should attend a University with a graphic design program. This is highly recommended. Anyone with enough skill, talent, and ambition can make it in the graphic design world without formal training, though it is difficult. One of the biggest benefits design students get when they receive formal training, aside from the classes themselves, is networking.
Design schools offer students a wide range of opportunity for gaining knowledge and experience. It generally helps for students to go in with some working knowledge. Design schools hone this knowledge, and boost raw talent. While in school, students take advantage of building their peer group, which will become a great resource in their future career. Students will have an abundance of professors and other resources to gain knowledge from and bounce ideas off of.
Internships are readily available to students of design programs offering them a chance to gain experience in the real world of design. Top-rated design schools are very selective of who they accept into their programs. So a design hopeful must have some raw talent, and artistic training before applying.
Unfortunately, many of our public schools have cut funding in their art departments, so sometimes there may not be much opportunity for a formal art classes before college. Many areas do offer private classes or you could train yourself by visiting your local library and reading the books and practicing the techniques available (now also available via electronic readers.)
Other ideas to help compensate for formal training, is to visit art shows, galleries, museums in your area. Take special trips to different stores that are known for interesting and innovative design (ie, a stationary shop, IKEA, or any of your local favorites.) This way you can observe how items are marketed, notice the advertising in magazines, even the coffee cozy on your coffee cup next time you visit Starbucks or whichever coffee stop. It is a great idea to constantly be working on some project.
Keep a sketchpad with you to keep your ideas in when you are on the move. Whether it’s doodling while you are on the phone, sketching the lady across the way from you while riding the train or what have you. Keep ideas flowing. Get familiar and experiment with various tools of the trade.
Not only to get the feel for the tools, but observe the packaging. (Notice how products are marketed in the world around you.) Start to build your portfolio. Find a professional designer to do some work for (maybe volunteer to do their “grunt” work) and all the while you will be building a great resource to get ideas from, ask them to critique your portfolio.
Vary the mediums of work you have in your portfolio: painting, sketches, photography, digital imagery, etc. Ask the professional designer to help you weed through which items to keep in your portfolio for maximum impact. There are numerous designs schools all over the country, starting your way from your local community college, many 4-year universities will have design programs, up to the prestigious design schools and art institutes, like The Art Institute of Pittsburgh;
The International Academy of Design and Technology is among the top-ranked for those wanting to specialize in computer animation. Strayer University is an excellent choice for those wanting to do their studies online, offering job placement assistance to their graduates.
Design is an ever evolving field, so you are never truly done learning. Continue to educate yourself, and take courses to expand your knowledge base. Learn about new technology available in the field, and new techniques to improve your skills, and keep yourself marketable in the evolving world of design.
Author: Katrina Polder