You want to have career in graphic design but don’t know where to start? That was me 5 years ago. Although it wasn’t easy the thing you need to know it is perfectly achievable, that is if you really want to. So here is my story with the handful of useful tips on how to become a graphic designer.
I want to be ????? when I grow up
Maybe you are familiar with this problem. For most of my life, I’ve had no idea who I want to be. I was so jealous of people who had it all figured out. They could already perfect they craft, and there was me, wasting time basically chasing my own tail.
It’s not that I didn’t have various ideas. Neither of them though seemed right. I started to think that I’m just useless and should probably stick to Warehouse Operative role. It was my husband who inspired me to look outside my comfort zone.
‘But I can’t draw!’
The idea of graphic design seemed very attractive to me from the start. There was only one small issue… I couldn’t draw. In fact, when I was at school everyone was happy to learn art beside me. Excelling at other subjects, during art lessons I was completely useless. I could not even draw a straight line. My parents explained to me, that I was simply lacking talent and I should put that to rest. So when the idea of becoming graphic designer happened in my head I was ready to give up right from the beginning. Now it might be shocking, but it turns out you don’t have to draw to be a graphic designer. There are lots of possibilities and you might just do fine without that skill. Worst case scenario you might need to work with some artists along the way. And that just makes the whole profession better, if you ask me.
‘But I don’t want to go back to Uni’
See you don’t have to. I am all for higher education concept. Especially if you know what you want in life, or you would like a degree in history, law or become a doctor. But the truth is that graphic design is an industry that grows and changes dramatically in short periods of time. It might turn out that by the time you finish Uni, you are already behind most current trends. Also, there are so many possibilities to learn online from the comfort of your couch. And what is best? Many of the stuff is free. You Tube, for example, is a great place to see what others are achieving with their skills. For the starting point though I recommend some free courses. I did my first course on alison.com. But there are many others. I’m sure you heard about lynda.com, but I also use udemy.com. Many of the courses there are free and occasionally they have massive discounts on those paid ones. If you look, you shall find.
‘But Photoshop is so expensive!’
First of all, that’s only partially true. If you are just starting out and learning how to master graphic design you are entitled to student licence and that’s way cheaper. You just pay monthly for a year. There are also free alternatives. Gimp is the most popular. I have been working on both Gimp and Photoshop and I can honestly tell you that if you are starting out Gimp is more than enough. In terms of using software, you would also need a course but the good news is you already know where to look for them.
‘But nobody will hire me.’
That was one of my concerns as well. Here I was, I have done a lot of work to learn, and absolutely nothing to do with it. Or so I thought. The truth is that with skills at hand you may choose to go freelance. The best way to get your work ‘out there’ is to volunteer at an organisation that requires a graphic designer. While it usually works for free, it also helps you raise your profile and gain a reputation. You can also try to do some small jobs for friends and family. Just remember to quit a free job as soon as you established yourself as the graphic designer. Or you will work for free for the rest of your days.
‘But I’m too scared it won’t work out’
That one might be replaced with any worthless winning you are using as an excuse not to try. I know it’s hard, takes time, effort, hours of practice and patience to learn. I know it is even harder when you are learning on your own. But I also know it’s worth it. And like everything that brings any value to your life it does not come cheap.
During last five years I grew so much as a graphic it’s almost unbelievable. The more I learn the more I see how much I still don’t know. But it’s all good because I know what I am aiming for.
Last piece of advice I’m going to give you: get all the support you can get. Join forums, groups for aspiring graphics, talk to your friends and family to help you through this. It is a long journey and at times it might feel like your not going to make it. But you will. Just keep going, just keep going…