What You Didn't Know About Graphic Design
Warning. This post is a bit long. Sorry. I have a lot to say on the subject.
In the past couple of years I have seen a lot of articles talking about the worst majors/jobs to pursue. Always, the arts are listed. Really, only arts are listed. And every time I am mystified by the people making these lists and wonder what the basis for these lists come from.
So, I thought I'd clear the air on being a graphic designer. I hope you can learn some things that you didn't know about graphic design.
- Let's start with the beginning. Is it worth getting a degree to become a graphic designer? The short answer: YES. If you look at job requirements of various graphic design jobs, you will see that most require a BA in Graphic Design or related fields. With the competition out there for these jobs, a degree gives you a foot in the door. After that, a portfolio sets you apart from all of those who have their college diploma in hand.
You CAN be a freelance designer without a degree, but getting started with a small portfolio is difficult, and a completely different ball game.
- Income. True, graphic designers can start with a humble salary. But the truth is, my starting salary was SIGNIFICANTLY higher in graphic design than my husbands starting salary in Information Technology (we had the same amount of experience in our fields). And a lot less money was spent on my college degree than his.
- Money vs Happiness. I could have gone into accounting and made a lot more money, more quickly. I also know that I could have gone into accounting and felt like I was missing something. When I have considered making a career change due to the economic state, I have found that I would be so unhappy, and I truly enjoy graphic design. It is worth giving up some things I'd like to have to stay in graphic design. It has also allowed us to experience God's provision in difficult times (more than once God has provided when we thought we wouldn't be able to pay our bills).
I could go on about careers that bring in a lot of money after years of school and student loans. Or careers that don't bring in much money, but are so important to scientific development.
I have, also, realized how often people think these creative careers are to get out of certain skills such as math, grammar, science and so on. So here are some skills you might not know graphic designers should possess:
- An understanding of how people think. First, you have to decipher what a client is looking for. Most clients don't know how to word it. They'll throw out some words like "energy" or "corporate" or "clean," then you have to figure out what THEIR definition of those words are. You, then, must consider what grabs the clients of your client. There is a lot of psychology involved.
• Along with that, there is an understanding of how the brain reads and deciphers information that designers MUST possess.
- Grammar. I have proof read so many things! I have to catch spelling errors, misuse of commas and split infinitives. (Please, don't use the writing on this blog to judge my grasp of english grammar.)
- Creative writing. Ok, that's a bit deceiving. I don't have to write whole stories, but I do have to come up with clever slogans, using alliteration, puns and a lot of silliness. It's a completely different skill from visual creativity. I have to turn on a different part of my brain for those.
- Knowledge. I don't know how else to label it. If you work for a variety of companies, you gain a lot of knowledge about engineering, oil (especially in Houston), healthcare, fitness, fashion, hospitality. If you design for one company a lot, you begin to learn a lot about their particular field.
- Time Management. I know. You're saying, "everyone needs time management skills." True. Have you ever had to come up with a concept for an ad, get all content (including photos) from different sources, stay on brand, make sure all info is correct and spelled correctly, and have it sent to thousands of people in 5 minutes? This is a real example, though rare. Usually you get an hour.
- Business and entrepreneurship. The direction of your career depends on how much you need to know about business; someone who is an in-house designer needs to know just as much as anyone else working for a company. BUT someone who owns their own business must have great marketing skills, be able to sell, schmooze, mingle, negotiate and cold call. Truthfully, I hate all of these things. I like people, but I don't like trying to sell to them.
And while artists brains tick a bit differently than others, many of us are good in other random subjects. I'm quite good at math, especially algebra; I would happily solve algebra problems all day. My best friend, who is also a graphic designer, has some skills and interest in the sciences.
I hope you feel enlightened, and not bored. I, also, hope you aren't considering a career in graphic design, because I don't want more competition. ;) The next time you see/meet a graphic designer smile at them; we stare at computers A LOT!