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Can I be a Graphic Designer without studying at college?

A question I had before majoring in Graphic Design. I am sure alot of highschool or college students interested in GD will be asking a similar question to this.
#college #graphic-design #illustrator #photoshop #indesign #motion-graphics

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Daniela’s Answer

Hello,


A good design school will absolutely get you on the right track to becoming a talented, qualified professional. However, it's simply not in the cards for everyone. Fortunately, you can still fulfill your dream of becoming a designer without a formal education, as long as you have the drive and dedication to pull it off.


Design School: Important or Not?


As far as the design industry is concerned, the debate rages on. You can’t really blame people for thinking that design school is not really as important as the industry makes it out to be. After all, the most important aspect of creating fantastic design is creativity, something that people are born with and develop through time, and not something you learn from textbooks and modules.


But then again, your creativity alone will not really get you anywhere if you don’t know the basics of design. No matter how unique your concepts are, you would also have to present them in the most professional way possible, especially if you want to make a serious career out of it. This is where the value of proper design education comes in. It teaches you the basics and the ins and outs of every possible tool and theory that you will need to progress in the specific niche you want to concentrate on.


You have to start with the basics. And for a career in design, you have to start from scratch:


Learn how to draw first. You don’t even have to enroll in an art class. You can read the book You Can Draw in 30 Days. Allot at least 30 minutes of every day for a month just trying to draw. Once you’ve learned the basics and have given your hands used to the daily workout, move on to the next step.


Learn graphic design theory, with the literatureThe book Picture This . It gives you the basics of typography, color, and designing with a grid.


Text also plays a huge role in design, so you should also learn how to write. You’ll see mockups using the standard Lorem Ipsum text, but you have to be creative in every aspect. Get a feel for words. Give the audience the entire package by showing them the emotions they’re supposed to fell not just through the graphics, but through the words you use as well. Try visiting the website Voice and Tone, it should give you great tips on how to talk to your audience.


Lastly, learn how to slaughter your work. This is one basic reality about design that a lot of rookies fail to get. When one design does not work, get rid of it and start anew. Don’t waste your creative juices by trying to improve something that’s not all that. Just let go of it and create something fresh and completely different.


Read all the great tips on:


https://creativemarket.com/blog/how-to-become-a-graphic-designer-without-going-to-school


Best!

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Roger’s Answer

You absolutely can. No degree or diploma every guaranteed anyone in the creative field that they have talent or that their work is inspired. In fact in most cases, your portfolio of work is the only and ultimate calling card that will usher you into the door and into a gig. Be warned though, some companies might have a hiring policy that they only hire college graduates, but if your work is superlative, you shouldn't have a problem.

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Troy’s Answer

You CAN be a designer without a formal education, just like you can make money the stock market without knowing anything about investing–but it's neither likely nor advised.
I've been a designer for over 25 years and I've worked with and hired many designers and in no case was anyone I worked with lacking a degree. If you don't have a degree or some kind of design education, you're definitely starting off at a disadvantage to other trained designers. There ARE some people who are brilliant designers who have no formal training, but I would argue that they'd be even better with it.
You need to communicate your ideas to other designers and to the people who have hired you. You have to know when and why you're breaking the rules (if you don't, then you're likely just making mistakes). You have to compete against other designers with degrees for jobs. You should have a structure and reason for developing your ideas and to ignore all the lessons of the past (as a degree exposes you to), I think is a mistake.
I was a horrible designer just coming out of design school–it took me years to become mediocre. Had I not gone to school for design, I would have failed long ago.
If you're thinking about going into design, do yourself a favor and get the education.

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Glenn’s Answer

You can, as you'll occasionally find companies willing to hire junior designers with two or more years of professional experience in lieu of a degree. Trick is: how does one gain two or more years first?? I love both the tools Daniela provided and the encouragement of Troy to pursue a degree; lemme offer a couple of other alternatives:

Glenn recommends the following next steps:

Their are a variety of "portfolio schools" that after two two years you'll have a book (and skills) to be proud of; consider Portfolio Center or Creative Circus, both in Atlanta. Think of them as 3-400 level courses you'd receive at a four year university without the general education requirements. Rigorous, focused, and you may benefit from job placement counseling that they offer.
Many community colleges offer Associate Degrees in design, but be careful as they tend to focus on instruction of tools and often neglect the research skills, conceptual thinking, or problem solving necessary in a design career. There are some exceptional ones however that are equivalent to a Portfolio Center that often amend the instruction offered by neighboring four-year universities, e.g. Linn-Benton CC neighboring Oregon State University (both great GD programs that place a lot of graduates at Nike and others).
Intern! As soon as you have some tool proficiency, get around other designers/mentors asap and soak it all up. Work briefly for free (and often) if you must in order to build proficiency, add to your book, and develop professional relationships that schools would initially provide you. This could also expose you to different design environments you may find to your liking.
Ask questions! There are very few people that will turn away an eager apprentice, even if only for an informational interview. Identify work you appreciate, see if you can find out who made it, and ask them about it. See if you both don't enjoy it!
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