With the graphic design industry being so competitive, it’s important to make yourself stand out from your competitors. Graphic design is a fast-growing industry that requires a lot of skills. Many students struggle with a real graphic design job because they don’t know what to expect and become overwhelmed. No matter what stage you are at in your career progression, we have complied a list to better help you prepare for your career in graphic design.
1. Go to School
There are very few young graphic designers that have such a good combination of skills and awareness to be successful right out of the gate. Having a graphic design degree is a great accomplishment and many employers will weigh more heavily on the fact that you have a certificate compared to someone else. You still need a strong portfolio, but having a graphic design degree under your belt will be impressive.
2. Work Hard
Getting your first job out of graphic design school will be hard work. There is plenty of work out there, but you have to be proactive and search for it. If you do the proper research and connect with the right people in the industry, it will be easier for you to chase down people who will be in the position to offer you a graphic design job.
3. Figure out your Specialization
There are many faucets to graphic design – logo design, illustration design, identity and branding, etc. Find out which channel you enjoy the most and work best in. Having a specialization will help you stand out when you’re preparing for your career as a graphic designer.
4. Plan Out Your Courses
Plan out your courses for what will best fit your schedule and lifestyle. If you want to start working sooner, work with school counsellors to fast track your graphic design program so you can start working sooner. If you wish to get more classes to expand your design knowledge (which never hurts anyone), you can also work this into your program.
5. Master your Software
Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are tools you should be familiar and comfortable with. Adobe tools became an industry standard, therefore most employers will expect you to know these tools once you graduate.
The best way to get experience when you are young is to create your own personal projects or freelance on the side. This is also a great way for students to make some extra money while attending graphic design school. Freelancing is a great way to work on real-world design projects with real clients. Use these experiences as a way to sharpen your skills and grow your portfolio.
7. Look for Criticism
Nobody’s designs are perfect. That’s why seeking out other people to search for your mistakes is a good way to develop your skills. It may be tough receiving feedback at first because it can feel like your work is being personally attacked. Remember to differentiate yourself from your work and to use it to improve.
8. Find Graphic Design Internships
Experience is one of the best ways to make yourself stand out. Experience is what will put you on top of the resume pile at graphic design agencies. E-mail or call graphic design agencies you’d like to get the best experience from. Many agencies will take interns without advertising for them (and they may even pay you).
9. Have a Portfolio
Not having a portfolio won’t get you very far in the graphic design industry. Portfolios are a way to brand yourself and promote your services. If you don’t have many portfolio pieces, create side projects for yourself, work for friends and family or freelance with real clients. The best platforms to showcase your work and promote your services are Bēhance and Dribbble.
10. Engage with Creatives that Inspire You
Following creatives you admire is important because it can be a constant source of inspiration. Bēhance and Dribbble are great platforms for graphic designers where they can easily engage with all the “leaders” in the graphic designer industry.