Working as a Graphic Designer

I like to think that my website contains all the answers to questions that visitors and prospective clients might have about me and my work, but seeing that I anticipate that the first contact for many people will be via my blog, it makes sense to provide some information about myself here. I’ve been inspired by a great idea recently suggested over at Creative Curio to address six questions about being a Graphic Designer. Here are my responses:

Just for reference, when and how did you get your start in the industry?

I began my design studies a few years ago, after working for several years as a television and radio journalist. I was looking for a new direction, something more creative and from the outset I wanted to work for myself, for flexibility and greater control over my career path. I studied design and multimedia, and began freelancing while I was studying. In 2007 and early 2008 I also worked as an animator with Blue Rocket Productions.

How do you define graphic design?

I remember having to answer this question for the selection interview to get into my design course. While I don’t remember exactly what I said then, it would have been along the lines of: graphic design uses all aspects of visual media – layout, typography, colour, illustration, photography, written language (and video should be added to the list) to effectively communicate a message. It’s not necessary to be fashionable, or beautiful, or stylish, but frequently incorporates at least one of these.

What was the hardest thing to learn about the industry?

Marketing: developing the confidence to network and promote yourself have been the greatest learning curves. Fortunately my design course included a unit on business studies which has been of great value.

What is the best part about your job?

The variety of the work, and the fact that each new project is a fresh slate. Taking a design from initial concept to completed artwork is also deeply satisfying, especially when the client is excited by what I’ve produced. Also, the design field is moving so quickly that I feel like I am constantly learning and absorbing new ideas, which I find exciting and stimulating.

What is the number one thing you would like to tell new designers?

Decide what aspect of design you are happiest doing, and use that as the focus of your career. Research employers, get in contact with the people you would most like to work for, ask if they have internships or if you can do a short stint of work experience (if the answer is yes, then do your best work and be reliable). You are most likely to land a full time job with the company you want to work for, if they already know who you are and like you.

What is something you wish other designers would understand?

This is a difficult question because I don’t feel that I can dictate to other designers. Something which I think is important, and the industry by and large realises this already, is to acknowledge the value of your own work. Don’t undersell yourself by offering $50 logos or $100 websites simply because someone has asked you for them, or you’ve heard that another designer is doing it. No one can produce good quality work under those conditions, and it devalues the industry.

Be sure to take a look at the great responses others have made:

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