What should I do to get into the graphic design world?
I'm a student in 11th grade and I was wondering what skills should I improve on, certificates to get into, or any tasks I should do to increase my chances in getting into the graphic design world? Also, what should I include in my portfolio?
graphic-design art design designer
If you are applying to an art school, be sure it is a not for profit university. Graduating in debt and not being guaranteed a job placement is detrimental to your possibility to thrive after graduation.
If you have family friends in graphic design, ask them if they would consider you a possibility for an internship with their company. The first internships may not be paid positions so budget and build experience while you are still living at home.
Graphic Design programs could require some drawing/painting/fine art proficiency or classes to obtain a degree. Having good fine art skills can also be beneficial to potential employers if you are able to produce original art without having to access stock websites. Practicing those skills will be a plus, and it could be good to get familiar with creating drawings in a program like Illustrator or Photoshop.
Having an understanding of how to layout print assets like a newsletter, flyer, or brochure could also be common, and provide you good practice/potential portfolio pieces.
When it comes to digital assets, understanding how emails, social media, and web ads are used and laid out could also be good practice/potential portfolio pieces.
Does your school have any type of graphic design class? Or does the local community college have classes they offer that you could audit or take for some type of credit?
Pamela recommends the following next steps:
Another tip is to show/explain your design process for each portfolio piece. This will give the interviewer insight into how you think through your design process.
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You have chosen an exciting field to join. I hope that this small bit of advice will help you on that journey. Good luck.
The skills you could improve on depend on your goals. Do you want to learn more about a skill you have? Do you want to develop a new skill? Identify the areas of design you're interested in. For example, if you're interested in web design, look into online certifications that teach you how to code. If you’d like to know more about design layout or typography, look for resources about those. Resources can be online certification programs, courses (online, community center, high school, university), books, etc. Study design history. Understanding where ideas originated will help you use them strategically.
Your portfolio should be all about you. This is where you tell the design world and beyond who you are and what you’re capable of. If you have examples of paid work, include those. Show the range you’re most excited about, keeping in mind that quality is more important than the quantity. One thing many designers fail to include is the project story/journey. Tell the audience what the project was and how you approached each challenge. This will show you’re able to communicate your ideas and overcome challenges, as every project has unique challenges.
- Network, network, network! Get a Linkedin profile set up if you haven't already and start reaching out to designers in your area. Don't ask them for a job or anything, just introduce yourself, express your interest in the field, and ask if they have time for some questions about what they do at their jobs. Most designers are pretty chill people and love to talk about what they do. While your primary goal with this should be to learn more about the field and what area you might want to go into, these connections could lead to job opportunities in the future! Just make sure to keep the connections active with a quick message every month or so, just so busy professionals don't forget about you.
- Learn some design programs! While design principles will always be more important than the ever-changing set of standard design programs, I found that learning these early gave me a huge advantage in design school. While everyone else is struggling to learn Adobe Illustrator for the first time, you can focus on applying your skills to the design problems at hand. I'd recommend becoming familiar with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign, and a UI tool like Figma (which is free!), Adobe XD, or Sketch. You can always learn new programs on the fly, but it can be useful and impressive to recruiters if you've got a solid arsenal already!
- Make a portfolio website. These are pretty much the standard nowadays as you will probably be applying to most jobs/internships digitally. If you don't have any webdesign experience, you can use templates from sites like Squarespace or Adobe Portfolio. If you want something a little more custom, I use Webflow and I love it. Like others have said, only include a handful of strong projects rather than just throwing in everything you've ever made. Try to include a good bit of the process of each project if possible, for example if you designed a logo, include any sketches you did and describe how you arrived at the final solution. Don't forget to include some personality on your site! The types of places you would want to work at aren't just looking for a design machine, they want a human!
- Never stop learning new things! The world of design is huge and you'll never be able to learn it all, but it couldn't hurt to try!
Jake recommends the following next steps:
Best of Luck,
Frank recommends the following next steps:
Fluid Canvas Art Studio
Steps to Becoming a Graphic Designer
Start Building Your Skills in High School. It never hurts to start early in any field, but it is particularly important when it comes to graphic design.
Earn a Degree in Graphic Design.
Create a Compelling Portfolio.
Return to School.