For all you aspiring graphic designers out there–here are some tips to learning on the job and becoming a quality designer. Because many people decide to pursue graphic design after they graduated school (or never even went), you’ll need to spend some time gaining the necessary skills on your own–some companies will even help you learn the skills as part of your job if they think it would be useful to have your assistance in that. You can get certificates to help your marketability, but you’ll need a strong portfolio as well. Many interactive agencies will look at your portfolio over your education when looking to hire for a graphic design position.
It also helps to have an eye for creativity. Being able to see things in your head, and then create them helps and it takes a certain ability
that is usually natural, but can also be learned. If you’re able to get a certificate for graphic design you’ll learn the basics of design, but you can also pay close attention to examples shown and how they look to start getting creative juices flowing.
If you aren’t able to take a class or training program it will be difficult, but you can still learn skills on your own. Find a friend, get online and read tutorials, check out books at the library, etc. to help learn the basics of the main programs like Illustrator or Photoshop. As you progress it can be hard to get a real critique of your work because most of those close to you will be biased based on your relationship. So you can try and overcome this by comparing your work to that of professionals in the field. You can also throw up a website and ask people you know to go and rate your pieces anonymously to try and get honest feedback.
Aside from the design portion you’ll need a few other skills. The ability to plan and estimate how long things will take correctly is critical. No one likes it when they are told the work will be done in 3 days and 2 weeks later they still don’t have it. You’ll also need to be able to stay within budgets and know when it’s “good enough” instead of doubling your time to make it “perfect”. There’s a fine line between doing your best work, and work that is high quality and acceptable. Some people would rather not wait an extra few days for you to polish it up beyond the point that most people would realize. Designers are often perfectionists and this can be a hard concept to get through.
When all is said and done, this profession isn’t for everyone. It is difficult and there is usually a certain amount of natural ability (although some people can learn the creative eye), but it can be a great skill set to have. If you are determined and hard working you can learn the necessary skills to become a great graphic designer.