If you’re creative and tech-savvy, a job in Graphic Design might be ideal for you. Everything from packaging, to posters, to video games requires some graphic design skills. The opportunities are endless, although that isn’t to say that it’s an easy career to crack. You don’t have to go to Uni, but you do need to be dedicated. Here’s a brief guide to getting your foot in the door.
Having a basic understanding of what graphic design entails is important. Reading books such as The Design of Everyday Things can help get you in the zone. From here you can start to read up on the techniques and tricks. Cover everything from fonts to images to diagrams, keeping to the basics at first. You can find your niche later.
Learn the software
Graphic design is all computer-based nowadays and learning the software is essential. Start off experimenting with Photoshop – from here you can branch out into other programmes like InDesign. There are many Adobe InDesign classes available that can help you to learn the ropes. Alternatively, you may be able to find resources online that can help you self-teach yourself. Play around until you have a good feel for the software and then start your own projects.
From here you can start to learn more advanced skills. Knowledge of HTML can help you to design websites, alongside learning web lingo and some basic marketing principles. More advanced coding can help you to develop programmes and apps. On the other hand, if you want to stay away from coding, you could try specialising in an area such as logo design. Other areas include 3D product design, animation and packaging.
Paid work can be hard to come by at first without previous clients to give testimonials or previous employers to give references. Working voluntarily can help give you the experience you need as well helping with networking. Offer to do graphic design work for a friend or family or help out a local business by sprucing up their website, designing free leaflets or creating a poster. If going freelance isn’t your thing – try volunteering at a local graphic design studio or see if a marketing company has someone you can shadow.
Build up your portfolio
It’s important to keep a record of all your experience. Have a physical portfolio that you can bring to interviews and a digital one with links and examples of your work. If you’ve achieved work on your own – build up a record of any testimonials you’ve got. Ask previous employers to give references to help beef up your CV. Resist putting all your work in a portfolio and focus on the good examples. At first it’s alright to steal and copy designs just to thicken up your portfolio (try not to keep them too similar to the originals though). All of this will help you to get your foot in the door and climb the ladder.