Graphic Design: Getting Started

If you’ve always loved visual art, and you’re looking to start a career that will pay you to do something you love, then you may be attracted to the idea of being a graphic designer. If it’s simply not practical to go back into full-time education, you may be wondering if there’s any way you can get started in graphic design. Here’s some news for you – you don’t need to sit in a classroom for a second to become a competent graphic designer! The following is a list of some of the best advice anyone can give to an aspiring designer…

Get your Creative Juices Flowing

From Wikimedia

If you’re dead set on pursuing graphic design, then the first thing you have to focus on is stimulating your creativity. Having some kind of background in art definitely helps, but it’s not essential. While you can do anything you set your mind to, true excellence in design certainly isn’t for everybody. You need to have at least a little creativity in your mindset, and a pretty extensive knowledge of art in general, the techniques that go into it, what works together and what doesn’t. If you’re just looking for a career path that will give you a decent paycheque, then graphic design probably isn’t the best thing to pursue.

Get the Right Tools

While there are ways to give yourself a decent foundation without spending a penny, if you’re serious about graphic design, you’ll eventually need to buy Photoshop. I’m not talking about the cheapskate alternatives like Elements here. I mean the real, fully-featured CS ones. If you’re still not quite sure whether or not graphic design is for you, then you may want to play around with more accessible magazine cover design or photo editing software. Ultimately, however, you’re going to need to get familiar with the standardized tools of the trade. The version you start with is largely up to you. Many designers will want to make sure they’re keeping up with the market, and will always buy the latest and greatest versions of software. However, more dated versions often contain all the tools and functions that you need to get a great start. Just make sure you do your research and weigh up the different features of the programs that are within your budget.

Buy a Tablet

Talk to most modern graphic designers, and they’ll tell you they can’t remember how they carried on before tablets came out. This young technology is the modern designer’s best friend, and you should have one to use when (not if) you need it. No matter how satisfied you are with using a computer now, there’s going to come a time where you’ll want a tablet, which will make things more free-flowing and flexible. There are a wide range of tablets out there designed specifically for graphic design. Just like the editing software you’ll use, you can generally get by fine with a mid-range model.

Mac or PC?

Of course, you’re also going to need a computer to start developing your graphic design skills. You probably have a computer already that does a fair job of accommodating all the functions you need. However, when you start to carve out a more definite career path, you’ll need to invest in a computer and monitor that’s better suited to graphic design. There’s nothing worse than a system that takes far too long to respond, and any designer will tell you that photoshop can really eat up your computer’s available space and resources. When it comes to the decision of getting a Mac or a PC, it’s really down to your personal preference. Macs seem to be more common in the graphic design field, but in terms of function, there’s very little measurable difference. Weigh up the differences in the interface, make sure you have enough RAM and processing power, and make your decision based on what feels right.

Stockpile your Fonts

From Flickr

When you’re ready to actually to sit down and start designing, you’re going to want to have a number of fonts to hand. Luckily, fonts are more accessible than they’ve ever been. There are many websites that will allow you to download a range of fonts for free or very little cost, and start using them instantly in Photoshop. As you start stocking up on fonts, just make sure that you’re sticking to the license terms, which will vary from font to font.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Just like pretty much anything, the best way to develop your skills with photoshop is to start using it. Open up a new document and test out all the tools you have with your version. Look up some YouTube tutorials, and follow them through. Import a photo of your friend and try to add a few funny effects to it. The main tip I can offer here is don’t be lazy! It takes hours upon hours of work to get comfortable enough with Photoshop to use all of its functions without needing to look up any information online. You’ll need a lot of patience and persistence to get to the point where you’re as competent as your average graphic designer.

Find your Niche

As you carry on using Photoshop and trying out different things, you’ll naturally begin to develop your own unique style. This is going to be a major selling point as you pursue a career in design. Right now, you may be struggling to even copy the things you’ve seen other graphic designers do. Just keep getting out of your comfort zone, trying new approaches to old problems, and honing your existing skills. Your own style will come naturally, but if you want to speed things up, try looking at the work of a few designers you admire, learning how to imitate their techniques, and finding a way to combine those different styles. Drawing on inspiration like this is a great way to figure out the little tweaks and quirks you can apply to your original work that will distinguish you from other designers.



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