How to get started as a graphic designer:
Starting a graphic design career can seem like an intimidating task...but thats where we come in!
Today we want to share some of our tips on getting started as a self taught graphic designer. At YES we have helped and taught thousands of students with creative thinking and software skills. Meaning they have the confidence they need to pursue a graphic design career.
I personally started to self study and learn from YES courses whilst still working full time. Within a year of studying. I became an Adobe Photoshop Expert, and since then I've had the chance to intern and eventually start working for brands such as BBC, Toni & Guy, and Mattel. Just to make it clear, prior to this, I had no background in design whatsoever. I studied a completely irrelevant course at university, couldn't afford the time nor money to go to design school and to be frank I don't think it mattered at all!
Here are 8 simple tips on how to get started as a graphic designer!
It sounds like a cliche but you must have passion and love what you do to do it really well. Although I never thought I would ever become a graphic designer, I have always been passionate about design and admired great designers and brands.
As a kid I always loved doodling or looking through magazine layouts, playing around with colours and always try to stay current in music, art and fashion. Creativity was always embedded in me but I never actually thought I could pursue a graphic
One of the most important elements to becoming a great designer is having a passion for creativity. If you really and I mean really love design then most probably you will enjoy studying it in your spare time!
2. Study Study Study!
A prerequisite for a graphic designer is to be able to think creatively and use software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign and Adobe illustrator to utilise your ideas. It is also important to learn graphic design theory.
We highly recommend that new starters begin collecting free resources to get familiar with design terminology and keyboard shortcuts. This will not only help you learn but will make you faster and more efficient as a designer!
Below we have put together a short tutorial on things you need to know when kick starting your graphic design career!
3. Don't quit your day job
When starting your graphic design career unless you have a a-lot of savings to rely on, it is best just to re-organise your time and study. Whatever you do, don't quit your day job. Stressing about money will put pressure on the study and processing time leading to your dream job. Instead learn to manage your time better and start prioritising what is really important to you and for your graphic design career!
Time is crucial and something you can't ever get back. This is the time to cut back on some social activities, binge watching box sets, obsessing over Instagram (we are guilty of this to) and most importantly those time draining nights out. Good friends will probably admire you for focusing on your career and most importantly it's time for you to focus on you!
On the plus side in the long run you may end up saving so much money which you will be able to invest in developing your skills . Try to make learning a part of your daily routine and stay inspired everyday!
Tip: Spend at least 2 hours in the morning or evening watching tutorials at least 3 times a week! So thats only 6 hours of study time per week!
5. Copy and Replicate
One of the best ways to learn graphic design composition and layout is to study and replicate other designers work that you really admire. It may sound like you're cheating however all creatives copy in some way. It's very important that you don't sell or present art work which you have recreated as your own! Remember this is all about practise and learning.
We highly recommend the book Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon as he explains the importance of generating creative ideas through other artists!
Tip: Create a collection of say 10 pieces of artwork you love through using inspirational sites such as Pinterest or Niice.
Take some ideas from each of the designs and create your
own layout. You are guaranteed to feel very inspired and gradually your design will become so unique that eventually your own style will develop!
5. Build your Portfoilo
The best way to learn is through practice. There are so many amazing crowd sourcing sites that will help you to work on real client based projects. I started using 99designs. It not only pushed my creative thinking but provided a chance to learn from other designers and really analyse and study winning designs.
It was a great way to build my portfolio, boost my confidence, earn extra cash and really gave my graphic design career a kick start!
Another way to improve your work is to perhaps start doing design for your family and friends. When starting your graphic design career, there is a high chance that you may do some projects for free but best to learn to say no when you don't feel like doing the work as it will most probably show in your designs!
6. Show off your work
Build your portfolio online using sites such as Behance and Dribble. Submit your best designs to forums such as Adobe fan page. Attend creative meetups such as Behance portfolio reviews and start sharing your creative process on Instagram. The more online recognition you get the higher chance of your work getting noticed and potentially getting work!
Tip: There are so many ways to share your work, best to choose 2 platforms for instance we prefer Behance and Instagram . Having so many social platforms will become difficult to manage, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated!
7. Accept Critiques
All designers, no matter how many years of experience they have, will receive both positive and negative feedback. Design is very subjective so what you design may not always appeal to everyone but it's very important that it meets the clients brief. It can be hard but be sure to take feedback on board, as this will only help you too improve your work. As a creative it is best not to become too defensive or feel down by negative feedback!
This is why sharing work on portfolio sites will help you to accept feedback and take any negativity as part of the development process!
8. Stay Inspired and Current
Creative thinking is fundamental in design so it is important to keep up to date with the latest software and design trends. A good designer will make a habit of being inspired through visiting museums, books, films and following creatives blogs and other designers work.
Tip: Get into the habit of keeping a notebook or sketchbook, start mind-mapping, create doodles and start wire-framing on paper. Most importantly take regular breaks away from
I hope you enjoyed this article and if you want to keep reading I highly suggest you check out this post on branding yourself as a graphic designer!
Or head over to our YouTube channel and start brushing up on your technical skills