Career Showcases: Graphic Design2nd December 2015 | George Atkins
Where other companies are dwindling year-by-year, graphic design is a flourishing sector of the creative industries, offering up a wide array of different areas and topics for aspiring designers to delve into all across the world. From corporate imagery creation to fashion designer, there is no shortage of work for budding illustrators, with many also now opting to work on a freelance basis, allowing for a greater level of freedom concerning what work they can pursue. However, because of the high level of competition in most areas of graphic design, it can be a little bewildering to prospective artists and hard to pin down areas of focus; with that in mind, here are some top tips for those wanting to follow the contemporary design route, enjoy!
Take College/ University Design Courses
Obviously, if you want to move into graphic design, it’s always best to start as early as possible. Start taking art classes or computer design courses (if available); luckily, excellent portfolios are still highly-prized and may be all is required to get full time design work; however, having a number of relevant qualifications under your belt will do you no harm at all. Additionally, try to volunteer for graphic design companies as well in your spare time, for it is a great opportunity for making contacts in the industry, contacts that (should you wish to go freelance, especially) will prove useful in the future when looking for paid work. As is the same in many areas of the creative industries, working for ‘free’ is not just necessary to further your career but also essential for building design skills and learning about how certain companies operate in relation to client communication. Speaking of which, you shouldn’t be afraid to collaborate with other artists; some of the best graphic design work has been achieved because of the culmination of two or more designer’s styles and effort. Finding an artist whose style gels with your own is a great way of overcoming any creative blocks you might have when starting out and will give you the experience of working in a new and (hopefully) exciting way.
Do your ‘Market Research’ and Stay Current
Learning your industry should be an obvious move for any creative worker; graphic design is no exception! Looking through your competitors work can give you an idea of the level of quality expected in the industry, whilst potentially giving you inspiration for work of your own. But the last thing you want to do as a designer is ‘rip off’ another artist, simply copying their style and homogenising the industry as a result; always try to develop your own style in your work! Try also to keep up-to-date with emerging trends and design styles, making sure that your work doesn’t come across as outdated or boring; because of the proliferation of graphic design sharing platforms (e.g. Tumblr), there is no excuse not to know your industry inside-out, and design employers know this as well!
Know your Target Audience
Knowing whom you are designing work for is even more important than knowing your market; it enables you to provide the highest-quality product possible to an audience who will appreciate/ interact with it the most positively. For this reason, it is also a good idea to create some form of blog (such as the aforementioned Tumblr or Instagram) to showcase your work to your selected audience; it’s free and shows potential clients that you are serious about your design work. This obviously ties into market research, so look at designers currently working in your chosen field, see how they connect with audiences effectively and try to emulate their processes; but, as mentioned, try and develop your own ideas about graphic style, it will make you stand out more to customers, clients and/ or audiences.
Learn how to Use Industry-Recognised Tools
As goes with the territory, learning how to use Adobe Creative Suite (including Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign) is essential; it’s widely used in the graphic design industry for a reason! You can even take courses with educational institutions, such as the teaching charity D&AD for free, proving that you don’t always need to fork out a huge amount of money to gain the right technical skills you need to progress in graphic design areas. While it is not essential to work solely using digital platforms when designing graphics, a basic knowledge of certain applications is bound to speed up workflow and enabled you to easily share your creations to social media or send them to clients for approval.
Tailor your Work to Specific Companies you Want to Work at
One of the most important aspects of graphic design should be focus; a focused portfolio, aimed at specific clients you want to work with or are working with, is vital if you are to progress in certain areas of the design field. For instance, there is a huge difference between corporate design work and designing children’s book covers, creating separate portfolios for each area you wish to move into is very important. The client doesn’t want to see a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ designer, they usually want to see a portfolio of work from someone who knows what they want to specialise in. For this reason, it is important to extensively research any company you are thinking about applying to for a job or consistent work, making sure that your design style sits well amongst their other work. If you want to impress companies that you want to work with, try using our CV Creator and persuade them that you are ready for the challenge!