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What are the unspoken challenges of the journey of becoming a graphic designer?

Hey there, I am about to graduate next year, and I was just wondering what it takes to become a graphic designer. For example, is it possible to become a graphic designer with not going to school, or art school vs. regular school for receiving the education.

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Allison’s Answer

Hello Sonya! As an Events Graphic Designer, I believe that my past educational background is not as crucial as my practical experience in the field. Although I pursued Industrial Design in school, I only took one course in Graphic Design. Nonetheless, acquiring a college degree in a design-related discipline permitted me to sharpen my knowledge and skills, as well as gain a solid understanding of the essentials of becoming a Graphic Designer.

Outside of the classroom, I took the initiative to teach myself various Adobe programs using YouTube tutorials. However, I must admit that learning these skills in a structured school setting could have been more time-efficient. One disadvantage of attending an Art school compared to a college offering a Graphic Design program is the limited range of other majors you can potentially explore if you realize that this field is not the right fit for you.

Embarking on a career in Graphic Design comes with its own set of unspoken challenges. For instance, you may encounter projects that you do not feel particularly passionate about. Nevertheless, the magic of graphic design lies in its ability to transform mundane, complicated, or technologically advanced content into visually captivating and engaging material.

Another challenge you may face is the frequency of revisions in your work, often accompanied by numerous feedback and required adjustments, and at times within a relatively short timeframe. However, if you can tap into the power of Graphic Design to effectively communicate complex or uninteresting information, your skills will be in high demand, and you will be a highly valuable and employable professional in the industry.

Allison recommends the following next steps:

Find a Graphic Designer from a company you admire and ask them to help mentor you
Make a Pinterest board of Graphic Design work that you find interesting, and try to recreate some of it
Look at Graphic Design programs at colleges and request a meeting with a professor
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Mihaela’s Answer

Hi Sonya!

Absolutely, you can become a graphic designer without graduating from an art school! The key is figuring out what kind of graphic designer you want to be: print or web design, animation, or perhaps illustrations.

Many resources are available online, including courses offering foundational artistic knowledge (light, forms, colours), as well as software tutorials tailored to your specific interests. As you invest time and effort into developing your skills, there's no doubt that you'll see your dreams come to life!

Remember, you're in control of your future, and with determination and hard work, you'll be able to achieve a lot!

Best of luck on your exciting journey!
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Emma’s Answer

I went to school for graphic design and worked in it for the first 7 years of my career. I also used to work in university admissions, so I counseled hundreds of students & families on their school choices.

You can definitely become a graphic designer by going to art school instead of a regular college, or by building the skills on your own through online courses. However, there are pros and cons to each option. Here are some tips & questions aspiring graphic designers should ask themselves.

CHOOSING THE TYPE OF SCHOOL/EDUCATION

Attending college costs a lot of money, so you want to ask yourself a few questions before making that kind of investment. Remember, each college is unique so my suggestions below are guidance - your own direct research into schools will be the best source of information.

- Aside from just getting a degree in graphic design, what else am I looking for out of college?

For example, art schools and regular schools will offer more social and group growth experiences, but generally leave less time for working and self-directed learning. Some people need the structure of this environment to learn and stay on task, others do not.

- What other complementary fields will be fulfilling to me or help me reach my goals?

For example, art schools tend to have far more options in the areas of drawing, illustration, fine arts, etc, whereas regular schools are more likely to have opportunities to learn marketing, business, writing, and communications. I always recommend graphic designers learn more outside their design specialty, because it makes them more marketable for jobs and also makes them better graphic designers! For self-directed online learning, you will have less structure of degree programs but more flexibility to get hands on experience with jobs, projects, internships, networking, etc as long as you are self-motivated.

- How good of a student have I been in the past?

The truth is, a traditional school environment isn't the best for everyone. If you have really struggled in the past with succeeding in school, then investing all the money into regular or art schools may not be the best choice. Every person & financial situation is different. There are many benefits and skills you can gain through college as a designer, but if you choose an alternative route to get trained, then getting job experience at the same time and having proven skills will be the key to your success.

- What interests me about graphic design? How much am I willing to work on my graphic design knowledge and skills?

Some people love the artistic aspect, or creating something from nothing, or the marketing/branding side, or just because it sounds fun. This question is important because you will need to work at graphic design just like any other area of study. So, if you only think it sounds fun and "not boring," then spending a lot of $$$ on traditional college may not be the best of you find out you don't like it later.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

No matter which education option you choose, these tips are key to being successful in graphic design.

1) Practice, practice, practice. Graphic design is a skill just like anything else, and that requires continual learning and practice of the tools, principles, and best practices.

2) Keep track of your projects & build a portfolio. The best proof of your skills is your actual design work, and they are great for showing your unique personality too.

3) Ask for feedback. Design and art can feel personal, but a project is never done on the first try. The best designers know how to receive constructive feedback without taking it personally, and make adjustments to continually improve. This will help you improve your design skills way faster, and make you a better teammate/colleague wherever you land a job.

Emma recommends the following next steps:

Ask yourself what you're looking for out of going to school besides just a degree in graphic design.
Think about whether traditional college or online/self-directed learning would better suit your learning style.
Practice, practice, practice.
Build a portfolio.
Learn how to receive constructive feedback.
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Kim’s Answer

Hi, and what a great question. One way to earn a degree in Graphic Design is to attend the accredited online art school that I went to. You can enroll in a 2 year Associate Degree in Graphic Design to learn much of what you'll need to know and gain skills necessary for that career. If you find, after 2 years that you want to pursue this avenue further, you can continue into their Bachelor's program.

Wishing you the very best in your journey!

https://www.sessions.edu/
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