Graphic design is an exciting field allowing you to work on a variety of projects that range from print media to website design. A good graphic designer is able to get their clients’ messages across using a highly visual approach.
Studies have shown that consumers relate to catchy logos and images more so than they do to slogans and other word-based advertising and branding methods. As more businesses migrate to the Internet, the need for professional graphic designers has never been higher. Secrets of Intuitive Design highlights the importance of a properly designed website.
Although many artists do well as graphic designers, you definitely do not need to be artistic to be successful as a graphic designer. By combining knowledge and some powerful graphic design tools, just about anyone can earn a respectable income in this field as explained in Graphic Design for Entrepreneurs…Who Can’t Draw.
As a graphic designer, you will work on many different types of projects. Websites are one of the biggest projects (and potentially most lucrative)you will work on as a graphic designer. This is especially true if you plan on becoming a freelancer instead of working for an advertising company or graphic design firm.
Just about every website needs logos and graphics that are appealing to visitors while still meeting the marketing needs of the particular site.
Traditional advertising such as direct mailings, business cards, and catalogs also need graphics designed by a professional. Although commerce is shifting to an online environment, direct mailings are still particularly effective for many retailers and they are willing to pay top dollar for high quality graphics.
Books and magazines also fall into the hands of graphic designers quite frequently. Your work in this field could be as simple as using photo editing software to touch up photographs for print or could be completely custom designs that help with branding a particular book or magazine.
Another exciting category of work is computer game design. No, you do not need to know how to program code to be an integral part of a computer game design team. Most games today are created using 3-D technology that is beyond the scope of computer programmers. This means they will hire you, the graphic designer, to create the characters and scenery for the game.
Game design requires special 3-D modeling software such as Blender3D.
Once you have been awarded a project, there is a specific set of steps that is typically required to complete the project successfully.
The first step is to find out what the exact project requirements include. This usually means consulting directly with the client to understand their needs and expectations. With this information, you can estimate the timeline and cost of the project.
The next step is to create some design concepts that fit within the client’s requirements. These concepts can then be turned into drawings and finally into finished designs using software tools.
In most cases, the design needs to be approved by the client before the project can be considered completed. Many times, you will find that clients do not like certain aspects of your design and you have to create new concepts that incorporate these changes.
As the professional in the client-designer relationship, it is your job to make recommendations based on your understanding of the customer’s needs. Often, clients do not know what they actually need; only what they think they need. You are responsible for explaining the difference tactfully and creating graphics that meet the client’s actual needs.
Skills & Tools
Aside from rough sketches, most graphic design work is done on the computer. That’s how anyone with a passion for artistic design can break into this field even if they do not possess innate drawing skills.
Typical programs used by graphic designers include the Adobe Creative Suite, which includes program such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Although there are free alternatives available if you are just starting out, these programs represent the pinnacle of graphic design software.
You can learn more about leveraging the power of Photoshop in Foundations of Photoshop.
Illustrator is primarily used for creating vector graphics. Unlike Photoshop, which manipulates existing photographs, Illustrator uses math to create custom logos, graphics, and other designs. Adobe Illustrator for Print Design teaches techniques that be applied equally as well to website graphic design.
Having a general understanding of these two programs puts you well on your way to becoming a graphic designer.
Some of the other skills that are helpful (although not required) include:
Basic Computer Skills
Ability to Work in a Team (many projects are a joint effort between multiple graphic design artists working together)
Another important skill is to have an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. What’s interesting about this is that it changes all the time. What may be considered a graphic design “best practice” one year may be completely outdated the next. As a result, you should follow graphic design trends and try to implement new strategies into your designs all the time.
Not only will your clients be happy that you are providing them with the latest and greatest graphic designs, but you will be setting yourself apart from other graphic designers who have not taken the time to stay current with new technology and techniques.