Ever looked at a colorful marketing brochure or a website and thought of different ways you would design it if given a chance? Often find yourself marveling at the originality of an artwork on a book cover? Every time graphics roll on the evening news, do you wonder if there was a way to do it better? If your answer to the above questions is yes and you have an undying thirst for creativity, then you probably are a prime candidate for becoming a graphic artist.
Becoming a graphic designer involves as much hard work and commitment as it does flair and creativity. Your talent needs to be nurtured appropriately, and your creativity channelized in the right direction if you want to make a serious career out of graphic arts. And one way to do this is through sound training and a relevant education in the field. But before we get down on the nitty-gritty of how to become a graphic artist, let’s take a closer look at what graphic artists do.
Simply put, graphic designers create visual communication of an idea or a message. They use a variety of materials such as images, sound, illustrations, animation, type, and color to create visual solutions. They work in industries ranging from films, television, and publishing to advertising, gaming and fashion.
So, how does one go about becoming a graphic designer? The first step is to find your way to a college or university that offers a graphic arts degree. There will be many people who will try to argue you out of enrolling for a college degree. Some believe that there is no point spending hard earned (or borrowed) dollars on something that you can teach yourself, while others will insist that a portfolio is all that matters to make it as a graphic designer.
Admittedly, portfolios creation and online tutorials are crucial part of your training. But equally important is a solid education that only a graphic design program can provide.
Not only is a college degree essential to build a strong foundation in the field, but it is also the minimum credential that employers nowadays ask for when conducting job interviews. A graphic arts degree is also necessary if you want to mature into more senior roles and aspire to lead a creative team of an organization at some point in your career.
The good thing is that you can choose between a basic two-year Associate’s degree in Graphic Arts and a more advanced and in-depth Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Arts, depending on your career and educational goals.
For folks who are making a mid-to late-career shift to graphic design or who find a college education completely out of their reach, there are a range of professional certificate programs and diplomas that they can complete.
But an education is just the starting point of your training to become a graphic designer. It’s important to work on creating an impressive portfolio of work while your education continues as that’s something your prospective employers could use to gauge the level of your talent and experience.
There are several ways of creating a portfolio. You can take up projects and assignments on a freelance or consultative basis. Remember, no task is too small when you’re looking to get your hands dirty in the field, so lap up whatever comes your way. You can also get an internship with a graphic design firm and gain some first-hand experience of working in a professional environment. This experience will be extremely valuable when you start your first job as a graphic designer.
Since technology is constantly evolving and graphic designers depend on a variety of software applications to complete their day-to-day job, it is important you stay abreast of the changes in technology and constantly upgrade your skills through self-learning if you want to remain employable.