Skip to main content
13 answers
Asked Viewed 448 times Translate

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

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

100% of 14 Pros
100% of 2 Students

13 answers

Updated Translate

Judith’s Answer

I believe that inquiring about an internship is the best direction to begin to discern if this field is the best fit for you. Once you get placed in an internship, ask a professional mentor within your company to assist with the choices which you make about your portfolio.

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.
100% of 2 Pros
Updated Translate

Pamela’s Answer

Since you are in high school, and maybe aren't 100% sure what type of design you want to go into, it could be good to explore lots of types of design on your own. This could then help guide you into the type of program you want to get into when it comes time to apply to colleges. Whether you are into Print, Digital, UX/UI, or some other field.

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:

Find beginners books/tutorials online about design
Think about what kind of design you are interested in, and explore that area/areas more
100% of 2 Pros
Updated Translate

Paul’s Answer

My daughter was recently accepted into 2 art schools and each one required a portfolio of 10-12 pieces. To improve the quality of her portfolio she spoke frequently with her art teacher for guidance and spent many hours working on her art at home. If you are currently taking art classes in high school try to take as many as you can if your curriculum allows you to customize your schedule with different electives. In addition, your local community college may offer classes in graphic design on the weekends and in the summer.
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate

Eric’s Answer

Everyone else has some great answers so I would elaborate on portfolio tips. Your portfolio can be very important in getting a job in the design world. But remember, quality over quantity. You're only as good as your "worst" piece so only choose your best pieces to show. ie. 15 mediocre designs with 3 great designs looks worse than having only those 3 great designs.

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.

Capital Markets - Fannie Mae

Very true! María Martinez

100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate

Gloria’s Answer

You have gotten some great suggestions here. I would like to add one thing - start using your skills now in as many real world situations as you can. Internships are good, of course, however, I would also recommend volunteering. Volunteering is not really something that you have to apply for or get accepted. A lot of non-profits just need the help. See if there are organizations who can benefit from your graphic design skills. It is important work and you are going to get asked to do a lot of different kinds of things. I am an Instructional Designer so I have some graphic design skills. I also volunteer quite a bit. Once I share that I have that skill, i get asked to do everything from taking photos, to creating web sites, to putting together a cookbook that will be printed to raise money. In many ways, these are challenges that I never would have imagined for myself. It is a good way to test the range of your skill and learn new things. The different assignments will actually give you a feel for what may happen to you when you start working. I would guess that you would even have some elements that you would be able to add to your portfolio that you might not have considered.

You have chosen an exciting field to join. I hope that this small bit of advice will help you on that journey. Good luck.
Updated Translate

Melissa’s Answer

Getting into the design world can feel overwhelming. We’ve all been there. The best thing you can do is start somewhere. If you’re able to, try an internship. Do collaborative work with others to build your design communication skills. Keep developing and improving your portfolio. Apply wherever you can best use your skills and develop new ones.

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.
Updated Translate

Jake’s Answer

You have a lot of really great suggestions here! I'll share a few of the things I've found to be valuable as I enter the field.

- 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:

Create a Linkedin profile and connect with local designers
Learn some design programs
Make a portfolio website
Never stop learning!
Updated Translate

Frank’s Answer

Jersey S. I'm glad to hear your already building a portfolio! Your Portfolio tells a story about who you are. The work you include should not just be your best work, but consider your interest and start adding that work and continue to improve it. Over time you'll be able to look back and see the progression you have made. This is where you can choose to take classes or certificates to improve skills focused on your portfolio! If your portfolio is mostly computer based then I recommend testing your skills by creating a website to display your work. Then your website becomes your portfolio and when you decide to look for work you can easily apply by having your work in one place.

Best of Luck,

Frank recommends the following next steps:

When possible collaborate on projects with friends. You'll share knowledge and make connections this way, and you can add this work to your portfolio.
If you are confident in your skills set try starting a website and become a freelance graphic designer.
School won't teach you every thing, remember school is just a stepping stone. Eventually it ends and you'll be out in the real world.
Updated Translate

Lyndsey J’s Answer

hi thanks for asking such a great question the first thing I would do is some research on classes that will help you with the skills that you’ll need. There are a lot of online classes that you can take as well as on campus classes that you can take. Also finding a mentor in the same feel is a good way to learn hands-on. You should be able to find someone who would likeTo mentor you. Artists are very compassionate and giving people that love to share their expertise and experiences with people so finding someone to do that should not be a problem for you at all. I wish you the best and if you have any other questions please let me know.
Fluid Canvas Art Studio
Updated Translate

P.’s Answer

Practice basic skills on canva. Learn the adobe programs. Keep a sketchbook to practice and gathering inspo and ideas. Make mock advertisements or reimagine logos/branding for companies that already exist and use what you come up with in your portfolio.
Updated Translate

Simeon’s Answer

There are a lot of courses that you can take online that could help you learn graphic design skills. Skillshare has a lot of online classes that you could take for yourself at your own pace. Google also has a UX Design course that they're starting now on .com. Your portfolio should show a wide diversity of technical skills as well as show the kind of work you're interested in doing in the future.
Updated Translate

John’s Answer

Hi Jersey, in my experience, I found that tailoring my portfolio to the types of jobs I wanted to get did well for me. For example, I wanted to work in responsive email design/UX design, so my portfolio was largely digital and contained mostly examples of web pages, websites and emails that I'd created. However, to show my versatility and give an insight into my design processes and background, I also included other design samples such as infographics, for-print samples (flyers, programs, posters) and even motion graphics for video. So to recap, first think about what kind of graphic design you want to do. Print only? Digital only? Both? Print as in magazines? Books? Newspapers? Do you want to work at a design agency, of in-house at a company or university? Then, tailor your portfolio to your interests. Also, I can't emphasize this enough - devote time to learning Adobe Creative Suite programs. I'd recommend starting with Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, but After Effects and XD are important as well. Also, I'd consider student membership in the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada to help you network, and to ask questions about your portfolio and skills. Hope this helps!
Updated Translate

Sendil’s Answer

Graphic designers create visual communications seen every day, every minute, across the globe. Designers develop entertainment, advertising, news and features in all forms, including print publications (magazines, newspapers and brochures) and digital and broadcast media such as game machines, television, web browsers, social platforms and portable devices. As technology continually develops in complexity, so too grow the duties and skills of graphic designers. This comprehensive career and degree guide examines the role of graphic designers, the most-common routes into the profession, as well as available programs and schools. It’s rounded out by a review of job growth estimates in the field and salaries, by state, for graphic design professionals.

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.
Complete Internships.
Create a Compelling Portfolio.
Stay Current.
Return to School.