How to Become a Graphic Designer

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Who knew you could make a professional career out of doodling? In our first instalment of the ‘How to Become’ series, we delve into the world of graphic design so all you budding creatives out there can get a clearer picture of what to expect when you start your career.

What Do You Do as a Graphic Designer?

A graphic designer creates and develops visual concepts across a range of mediums. They are primarily roped in to help with branding, graphic designers work with their clients, or within a company, to make their creative ideas a reality.

Graphic designer tasks include (but are not limited to):

  • Interpreting creative briefs and offering concepts that meet demands.
  • Bring concepts to life in illustrative sketches and pitch to clients/company.
  • Taking on board feedback and editing ideas/work appropriately.
  • Creating final products on illustrative software/CMS systems and presenting final versions to the client/company.

 

What Is Your Expected Salary as a Graphic Designer?

Entry level graphic designers can expect an average yearly salary of £18,000, rising to £20,000-£25,000 for Junior Graphic Designer positions. Once established, a Graphic Designer can earn anywhere from £30,000 up to £40,000 for Head of Design.

 

What Do I Need to Become a Graphic Designer?

First and foremost, you need the software skills to be able to visualise concepts and complete designs. Graphic design is not all about coming up with great ideas, being a great problem solver and having an eye for design but creating the final product for the clients. Most designers will use the popular Adobe suite to complete their work, with the most important applications consisting of Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign.

While these software skills can be self-taught, and it’s not always necessary to have a degree to obtain an entry-level graphic design role, a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design (or other relatable courses) can help you to develop the technical understanding behind design that you will need when concepting ideas for commercial purposes.

In order to become a great graphic designer, you will need to develop your abilities and style over time, illustrating this in a professionally laid-out portfolio. Having your own Mac system throughout your degree is a worthwhile investment. Creative university projects take time to perfect and having your own MacBook allows you to take your work wherever you go, whether that’s to the library, at your university campus or your dorm. For graphic designers, or any creative role for that matter, Macs are used as an industry standard so getting to grips with this operating system during university can help ensure you are not struggling with a system switch-over when you get out into the real world.

If you’re doing university on a budget, like most students are, you don’t have to pay the world for a MacBook. Second-hand MacBooks for sale online can be a great option; completely refurbished, these systems are as good as new but without the high price tag.

 

Is Graphic Design Right for Me?

If you have a flair for creativity, able to come up with fantastic ideas and have an interest in all areas of media, graphic design could very well be the career for you.

Design requires you to find inspiration everywhere and anywhere, and often on projects you may not necessarily have a passion or thorough understanding of; so, if you find yourself struggling for a spark of inspiration in self-driven projects, you may struggle when you work on real-life assignments.

You don’t have to have the drawing abilities of da Vinci, as long as you can concept your ideas in some easy-to-recognise format. You will find that many established graphic designers rely on their digital design savvy to get their job done, and only use their sketchpads for rough sketches and notes.

 

Steps to Becoming a Graphic Designer:

  • Build your skills and work throughout university.
  • Complete internships to get real-life experience that bolsters your CV and provides you with industry knowledge.
  • Create an intriguing portfolio that demonstrates your technical abilities and creative mind.
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest trends, software updates and industry news to make sure that you are current.
  • Ace your interview by doing your research, not only on the company/agency and the interviewer but on interview skills from successful designers. (We found this great video from Philip VanDusen)

Good luck on your career path in graphic design. Be sure to share your thoughts and tips with us in the comments below or on our social media channels. And stay tuned for our next instalment of ‘How to Become’.

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