Graphic design has been part of human expression for ages; from the first person who made some sort of drawing on a rock face or cave wall, graphic design has been instrumental in getting ideas across to others through visual representation. Today, designers are responsible for bringing together text, pictures, and concepts in a variety of media-usually advertisements, websites, and publications. Many graphic designers begin work as assistants or apprentices, learning essentials on the job-such as creating designs for direct mailings and making logos. Although many work for a wide range of companies, many also work as freelancers and entrepreneurs. It’s important to remain flexible, to keep learning and expanding; the demand for good graphic designers is always on the rise, and by keeping your abilities fresh and up-to-date you can stay current with whatever an employer needs.
One of the most critical abilities a good graphic design professional has, besides a “good eye” for what’s visually effective and appealing, is good interpersonal and communication skills. Often, graphic designers need to make presentations for their clients; these presentations must illustrate a thorough understanding of the design, why particular elements were chosen, and why the design is effective. A good education from a school or college is highly recommended, too-with a foundation formed at the high school level. An interest in a graphic design career can be kindled through an internship while at high school or college, where the prospective graphic designer can be mentored by one more experienced. Graphic design students can earn credits toward their educational careers as well as valuable insight and knowledge.
Training to become a graphic designer can be achieved at a variety of schools and colleges, many of them online. Associates’ and Bachelor’s degrees can be earned in a wide variety of fields, such as digital multimedia, web design, and art and advertising-and can be completed in two years, allowing for a quick entry into the graphic design workplace as an assistant. Going on for additional training at a four-year college will help you become more marketable, and often these schools can assist you in finding employment, or at the very least provide a fruitful networking environment. Another critical piece of the career puzzle is your portfolio; this collection of pieces of your original work allows employers to see your very best efforts. Your chosen school can often give you direction in constructing an effective portfolio. It’s recommended that you continue to add to your portfolio as you gain experience, in order to keep it relevant.
Expect to work at least three years as a graphic designer before moving up the corporate ladder; according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, experienced graphic designers can advance to positions such as chief designer or art or creative director. And it’ll be awhile before you can splurge on a vacation, too: in May 2008, median wages for graphic designers were $42,400, just $35,000 for entry-level designers according to the American Institute of Graphic Arts. If you’re on the ground floor, or just out of graphic design school, the best cities to work in as a graphic designer are New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Even with demand increasing for good graphic designers, competition remains fierce-but with the right preparation and skills, it’s a career well worth investing in.
Author: Kevin Wolfe