1. Are you a graphic designer? What do you do?
Yes! I’ve been working at a small design studio for over five years now. I design print materials, from posters, brochures, postcards, and programs. I also design ads, front end websites, and flash web ads. Recently, I’ve been working on a lot of illustrations, which I really enjoy. I illustrate in many different styles depending on what job I’m working on.
Illustration for Taipei Toy Festival poster design
2. What would you tell someone in high school considering this career path?
Get the ball rolling and take art and graphic design classes. Graphic design class will introduce and get you familiarized with industry standard programs. If there are no art or graphic design classes available, the next best thing is to make things. Just be constantly creating.
For myself, I took one semester of graphic design in grade 10, and didn’t take any art classes throughout high school. Why? I didn’t know I would be pursuing graphic design. Funny how things worked out. But what I did do was draw. All the time. I had a dedicated last page in all my notebooks where you’d find drawings, and the margins in my notes were always filled.
4. What do you think is more beneficial for a career in graphic design, going to a 4-year university, or is a 2-year school fine?
In the end, what matters is your portfolio, and what it is you really want to do. Do you want to specialize in something, like illustration or web design? Check out the school’s website, and student portfolios. See what kind of projects are assigned, and the work the students are creating. Go to a school that can help you develop the skills you need for the job.
I went to a college that offered a 3-year Graphic Design program. Before applying to the school, I looked into the program, checked out the graduating class portfolios, and I was really interested and excited with the projects they worked on. Being a shorter program, there was a lot to learn in a short amount of time. The workload was heavy, and at times it was a whirlwind. But it was one of the most engaging and enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had.
5. What are some of the tasks and projects that you’ve worked on?
First year was all about learning the principles of design, colour theory, composition, and the history of graphic design. For illustration class, lot’s of life drawing.
In second year we were assigned more real world projects like layout, logo, web, and package design.
I LOVED third year. We were given a lot of creative freedom and assigned really interesting projects, ranging from poster, book, and type design, video and motion graphics.
6. Do you have any advice on college? ; A ;
As far as getting work done, I would put on my headphones, listen to music, and get in the zone. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for input. A fresh pair of eyes and insight is a good thing.
Know that you will get better with more practice and work.
7. Were you a studious person?
If you mean, did I try hard to do well, then yes. There’s not a lot of studying during the program, but more creating, getting feedback, and re-creating.
8. When did you know you wanted to be a graphic designer?
During my first year of Graphic Design. I loved the projects that were assigned, and the creative environment.
Graphic Design open house concept
9. Do you ever have periods when you do not feel inspired but have to create something anyway?
Yes, and I have to work through that. Sometimes the best thing is to step back, take a breather, and do something else. There are times where I’d check out design books and blogs for inspiration.
10. How do you cope with making something for someone with a completely different taste than yours?
Being a graphic designer, I have to design for the client’s target audience—not the client. That’s why creative briefs are necessary—to determine the client’s goals. When presenting to a client, I need to convey strongly how the design fulfill their objectives.
If a client still insists on a particular change that doesn’t fit the brief, I can do it… but at the end of the day it won’t benefit the interests of the client, and most likely a piece I wouldn’t include in my portfolio.
11. I’m looking at Graphic Design as a major, but I’m scared I’ll find classes really boring or hard. I’m terrible at conventional art like drawing. But I love images/photography & I sometimes add txt to pictures just for fun. What was school like & was it enjoyable or did you not really like what you were doing until after you had graduated?
If your initial feelings toward graphic design is a negative one, it may not be the right fit for you. Particular classes and assignments will be challenging, but that’s what pushes you to work harder and become better. You don’t have to be a great illustrator to be a great graphic designer, and vice versa.
I really enjoyed the Graphic Design program. Even though it was work intensive, I loved the creative environment, and working with peers that encouraged, critiqued, and inspired each other to do better. Once I started working, I learned so much more.
12. Is it easy finding a job?
I think it comes down to what you want to do and where you want to work. What’s also great is that you can be your own boss by being a freelance designer. And even then, there are times when work doesn’t come in continuously.
In my case, my boss contacted me because of an instructors recommendation. I still went through the review process, but luckily I didn’t have to do a lot of footwork applying to different places.
I really hope this post gave you some insight into what I do and how school was for me. Looking back on past school projects made me cringe—a lot of them were REALLY bad. But it showed me how much I’ve grown—still growing—and become better as a designer.