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How to Become a Graphic Designer?
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How to Become a Graphic Designer?

Demand for graphic designers is rising in the age of content creation and digital-only businesses. Graphic designers are also visual storytellers who can creatively narrate a brand story with the help of images, text, and other design elements. They have the skill set to make boring data into engaging content. A graphic designer can work on multiple marketing collaterals. Brand logos, social media posts, animation videos, infographics, and banners can be considered marketing collaterals.

Graphic designers form an integral part of the evergrowing Advertising and Marketing industry. They play a vital role in constructing brand elements, and it’s a perception in the market. Some companies have ‘Communication Designers’ to support a brand or business's comprehensive line of communication. Their designs can evoke emotions and perceptions in the minds of stakeholders, consumers, and businesses. 

Apart from having a keen eye for visuals, a graphic designer’s career is appreciated for its flexibility. The flexibility that supports remote working and acceptance of the profile in any industry. 

Profile of a graphic designer

A profile of a graphic designer is adaptive to the demand of the role. Therefore, different categories of graphic designers vary in their skillset, expertise, and qualifications. 

Graphic designers have the flexibility to work in-house, where they create designs for a company or a brand. At an agency, where they work with a range of clients and brands. Or as a freelancer, where they run their own design business.

If you want to become a graphic designer, picking a course of growth toward specialization and experience is suggested. 

In-house graphic designer

The position of an in-house graphic designer offers a steady income, a regular work schedule, and a social working environment. They are expected to be subject matter experts on the brand or the business they are working for. They strongly understand a company’s communication style, from visuals to tone of voice. Their ‘Key-Performance initiatives’ involve a long-term branding strategy that an agency or a freelancer can quickly adapt for the organization in their absence. 

Agency graphic designer

An agency graphic designer may or may not have an in-house position. As an agency works with multiple clientele categories, an agency designer's exposure is more comprehensive than that of an in-house one. Agency life is fast-paced, and so is the schedule of an agency designer. They are expected to work on multiple brands simultaneously and churn out different design formats within hours to days. 

Agencies can be an excellent opportunity to work alongside other designers and learn the design thinking process. It can be beneficial for new designers eager to learn from experts.

Freelance graphic designer

This category of designers is often self-motivated and business savvy. They run every aspect of their business, from actual design work to managing clients and finances. Though a freelance design career can be attractive from an aspect of flexibility, it also calls for long hours of work and coordination. A freelance position is often attractive to freshers as it allows them to work on brands that interest them and crave a specialization pathway. 

In addition to the actual design work, freelance graphic designers must devote time to marketing themselves and handling administrative tasks. 

Qualifications of a graphic designer

While the career opportunities are vast in the graphic design industry, deciding which direction you want to go in at the onset of your college education is essential. Appropriate coursework and qualifications help craft strong skillsets and a career path. 

The interpersonal skills of a person trying to pursue a graphic designing career are an interest in 

creativity, style, originality, and communication. Additionally, a nuanced understanding of software, computer graphics, and animation is desirable. 

From an academic perspective, entry-to-mid-level graphic design positions require 

a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, college, or private design school. When it comes to an area of specialization, you need to pick your subject matter expertise from the curriculum. 

New-age graphic designers opt for subjects such as website visual design, branding and communications, motion graphics, typography, and print work. 

Website visual design: 
In this subject, you can learn about visual elements that enhance the look and functionality of your website. Commonly known as User Interface and User experience, a graphic designer adds value to the overall user journey from awareness to purchase.

Branding and communications: 
Learning about branding and communication can help an aspiring designer enter advertising. A designer can add value to branding by creating the overall brand elements, from logos to applications. 

Motion graphics: 
This course helps the designer understand the relationship between motion and graphics. It is a style of animation that enhances the experience of viewing branded elements in the movement, such as images, words, or footage. 

Typography: 
An art form that allows a designer to make written language highly readable, legible, and appealing when placed on printed or digital platforms. 

Print work: 
Graphic design for printing is a process-oriented course that teaches the different types of publications and their unique design style. For example, the magazine design style will drastically differ from that of a tabloid. 

Additionally to these majors, subjects such as art history, sociology, psychology, writing, foreign languages/cultural studies, marketing, and business add value in crafting a solid career path for learned designers. It enables aspiring graphic designers to become well-rounded and better prepared for their industry, typically requiring a great deal of communication and collaborative efforts.

A pro tip, throughout your academic career, ensure to make a visual portfolio of the creative work you’ve cultivated throughout high school to showcase the evolution and understanding of your design skills.

Skillsets of a successful graphic designer

To land a graphic design job in 2023, you must cultivate the fundamentals—develop experience, understand how to work with real-world clients, and be willing to market yourself to gain more business. 

Apart from academic qualifications, you must develop interpersonal skillsets that allow you to be on top of your game. Here are the top skills needed to be a successful designer in today’s day and age. 

Invest in the right tools

Being a proficient graphic designer requires you to invest in robust tools. Adobe Creative Cloud is an excellent tool for a designer who works on the move. It allows you to hold all your files on a cloud, ready to be edited and shared. Subscriptions and licensed versions of tools allow designers to utilize their creative capabilities to the fullest without restriction on the assets. 

Keep up with trends

One of the essential skills of a designer is to keep an eye out for design trends. Keeping up with the trends gives a designer an edge over the competition, efficiently adapting to new ideas and having learned conversations with colleagues. Some platforms that designers can follow to keep up with the trends are Twitter, Adobe Symposiums, and Architectural Digest.

Build a body of work

Building a persuasive body of work is a skill. One needs to methodically segregate projects and share links with prospective clients to showcase to them your designing capabilities. As a budding graphic designer, it is suggested to accumulate work that reflects the career you want to pursue. For example, creating a portfolio with folders that reflect individual branding elements is suggested if you aspire to be a graphic designer in an advertising firm—elements such as logos, websites, typography, brand books, etc. 

Market yourself

Yet another skill set of a successful graphic designer is self-marketing. One must learn to avail exposure to platforms such as social media, design portfolios, and websites. When you create a social media presence as a knowledgeable designer, you also hold the opportunity to be a ‘design influencer’. A design influencer shares knowledge about significant design elements, trends, case studies, and suggestions to brands they would like to collaborate. With a good follower base, the social media channel can be a significant revenue-generating model.  

Network with your community

One of the most significant advantages of being a designer is inheriting the design community's power. Networking and building connections with graphic design peers are invaluable for keeping up with trends, improving your skills, sharing valuable conversations, and getting new opportunities through referrals and partnerships. Apart from offline networking events, you may also subscribe to design communities on YouTube and Facebook. These communities act as an excellent scribble board for your ideas and improvising them.

How to find a job as a graphic designer?

Before applying for a job, one needs to chalk out the role one intends to get into and flourish. 

If you intend to be an Agency Graphic Designer, you can begin by creating a solid portfolio that reflects your ideas. As a fresher,  your portfolio may have college projects other than actual work, but you can create versions of designs for brands that appeal to you. This way, the recruitment team at the agency can analyze your creativity and ability to execute. 

If you intend to work as a freelance designer, you can begin by establishing yourself as a brand or a business. You can create a website that lists your capabilities as services. You may also add your portfolio to show value to potential clientele. As a freelance designer, you must list your rates for various services allowing clients to gauge the level of work and hours needed to finish it and consider budgets. 
An efficient way of landing a job as a graphic designer is to create a portfolio on career websites such as Linkedin. Here, it’s easier to network with potential clientele, showcase your work and express your intention to work with a specific organization, individual, or brand. 

Challenges faced by a graphic designer

The path to becoming a successful graphic designer is a challenging one. Like any career, obstacles form a part of the journey and keep it exciting. In the oversaturated market of designers, there are many challenges faced by designers. Here are a few and a guide to help you overcome them. 

Working with fast turnarounds

With digital platforms that monitor the performance of each content piece minute by minute, it is a constant struggle for designers to keep up with the deadlines. Research, reflection, and investigation are a few methods that can help designers turn their workaround faster. 

Balancing creativity with churning

The constant struggle of a designer is to manage the workload versus ideation. Design thinking plays a vital role at such times in delivering quality creatives. But in the competitive world, the churn of content takes the lead. The best way to deal with this challenge is by taking breaks between actual execution and thinking. This way, the mind can rest and evoke innovative ideas. 

Staying true to your design style

When working for businesses, graphic designers often lose their design style. Designers need to remain faithful to the core conceptual ideas while maintaining an element of thor design style throughout. This can be a brave move and require years to establish a style that sticks and builds resonance. 

Finding the right clients

Last but not least, finding the right clients is the biggest challenge for designers. You may get all the work on the planet, but a sincere supporter and appreciator of your style are rare. Find approachable, available, and reasonable clients to see your true talent. 

 

A graphic designing career is fun and creative and has the possibility of working on your terms. With the few easy steps to starting a career in this field, such as gaining a degree or a course in design, practicing tools, and building a portfolio, one can initiate in the right direction. While progressing in your career, you can keep yourself updated, network with peers, and build your signature brand to make it big in the design market. If you are thinking about becoming a graphic designer, your time is now. 


 

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