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20 Ways to Prepare For a Career in Graphic Design

Many design students have a hard time transitioning from student to employees simply because of a lack of preparation. With the graphic design industry being so competitive, it’s important to make yourself stand out from your competitors. Graphic design is a fast-growing industry that requires a lot of skills from employees. Many students struggle with a real graphic design job because they don’t know what to expect and become overwhelmed. No matter what stage you are at in your career progression, we have complied a list to better help you prepare for your career.

1. Go to School

There are very few young graphic designers that have such a good combination of skills and awareness to be successful right out of the gate. Having a graphic design degree is a great accomplishment and many employers will weigh more heavily on the fact that you have a certificate compared to someone else. You still need a strong portfolio, but having a graphic design degree under your belt will be impressive.

2. Work Hard

Getting your first job out of graphic design school will be hard work. There is plenty of work out there, but you have to be proactive about your future and search for it. If you do the proper research and connect with the right people in the industry, it will be easier for you to chase down people who will be in the position to offer you a graphic design job.

3. Figure Out Your Specialization

There are many faucets to graphic design – logo design, business card design, brochure design, identity and branding, magazine and book design and advertising. Find out which channel you enjoy the most and work best in. Having a specialization will help you stand out when you’re preparing for your career as a graphic designer.

4. Plan Out Your Courses

Plan out your courses for what will best fit your schedule and lifestyle. If you want to start working sooner, work with school counsellors to fast track your graphic design program so you can start working sooner. If you wish to get more classes to expand your design knowledge (which never hurts anyone), you can also work this into your program.

5. Be Nice

Being nice will get you far in the industry. As you prepare for your career as a graphic designer, remember that many employers are extremely busy. When calling, e-mailing and interviewing with possible employers, remember to be courteous because they are taking the time out of their day to talk with you. Treat people with respect and you’re more likely to get the same in return.

6. Network

Networking is one of the most important things you can do as a graphic design student and the sooner you start, the better. #5 and #6 are connected – if you’re nice to people they are more likely to refer you to someone for a job. Keep in touch with your network of contacts and genuinely be friendly.

7. Master Your Software

Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are tools you should be familiar and comfortable with. Most employers will expect you to know these tools once you graduate.

8. Take Advantage of Resources

Many of these types of services are not taken advantage of at college. The services are there for a reason – to help you. If you are looking for a job, help with a resume, interview skills, etc. they will more than happy to help you.

9. Do Side Projects or Freelance

The best way to get experience when you are young is to create your own personal projects or freelance on the side. This is also a great way for students to make some extra cash while attending graphic design school. Side projects are a good way to add work to your portfolio that is completely yours. Freelancing is a great way to work on real-world design projects with real clients. Use these experiences as a way to refine and sharpen your skills.

10. Look for Criticism

Nobody’s designs are perfect. That’s why seeking out other people to search for your mistakes is a good way to develop your skills. It may be tough receiving feedback at first because it can feel like your work is being personally attacked. Remember to differentiate yourself from your work and to use it to improve.

11. Find Graphic Design Internships/Placements

Experience is one of the best ways to make yourself stand out. Experience is what will put you on top of the resume pile at graphic design agencies. E-mail or call graphic design agencies you’d like to get the best experience from. Many agencies will take interns without advertising for them (and they may even pay you).

12. Read

Reading is one of the best skills you can inherit when preparing for your career as a graphic designing. Many elements of the design industry change so fast that you’re going to need to be able to keep up with the latest standards. Professionally speaking, reading books and internet articles will make you a smarter designer.

13. Learn Business

Being knowledgable in general business terms will prove to be valuable later in your career. If you ever want to go full-time freelance, you’re going to have to know how to run a business. Taking classes such as economics, marketing, advertising and business communication will be beneficial for you.

14. Be Original

You need to have a personal style. Without you, you can get lots within the hundreds of graphic design students that might be applying for the same jobs you are! A good way to differentiate yourself is to brand yourself. Brand your portfolio, your e-mails, your resume and cover letter and your social media presence. Be consistent across all of them.

15. Have a Portfolio

Not having a portfolio won’t get you very far in the graphic design industry. Portfolios are a way to brand yourself and promote your services. If you don’t have many portfolio pieces, create side projects for yourself, work for friends and family or freelance with real clients.

16. Have a Resume & Cover Letter

Even through some say the resume is now dead in the design industry, it’s still good to have one. If a graphic design job exceeds a number of applications, they won’t have time to look at your design portfolio. Rather, they will just look at your resume to see if you have the minimum requirements for the position. In your cover letter remember to include who you are, why you’re contacting so-and-so and why you want to work at that graphic design
agency.

17. Follow People That Inspire You

Following people you admire is important because it can be a constant source of inspiration. Twitter is a great community for graphic designers because you can easily follow all the “leaders” in the graphic designer industry.

18. Make a List of Places/People You Want to Work For

If one of your goals is to work for a specific agency, do your research before you even graduate. Are they looking for designers? How big is their company? How many employees do they have? What type of work do they normally produce and is it your style? Is the company environment somewhere you can see yourself fitting in?

19. Attend Events

Being active online is great, but meeting others and attending events offline is a great way to connect with the community. Although many of these conferences are rather expensive for graphic design students, if you can attend one, take advantage of it.

20. Do Research on Job Requirements

Job requirements for graphic designers will change slightly from one company to the next. This is a good way to prepare for your career because it lets you know what you should expect on the job. If you don’t know what your employers will be demanding of you, it can be a nerve-racking experience transitioning from student to employee.

The Best Graphic Design Laptops

If you’re a graphic designer, then you might be wondering what the best laptop for graphic design is. This is a question that can be easily answered when you take a look at the laptops hardware, rather than the software installed. The hardware will influence how well the laptop performs when running software programs.

Plenty of people tend to choose either Apple or Dell when it comes to notebooks, due to strong brand awareness. They usually employ a lot of marketing strategies which make it clear that you won’t ever regret choosing one of their products. These two brands are known pretty much anywhere you look as the top manufacturers for all things laptop related.

If we’re talking about laptops for graphic design, then we shouldn’t ignore these two brands either since their products usually integrate the best in the tech world, and the models they bring out on a regular basis will have the latest processor model, along with more RAM than the previous model and a better graphics card.

Let’s take a look at a few of the things that actually matter for graphic designers:

Screen Size and Resolution

When you choose a laptop, make sure you understand this spec. The screen resolution if the amount of actual pixels the laptop can output on the screen, and it won’t necessarily have to do with the actual screen size itself. There are certain ultra-portable laptop models with small screens but high resolutions. This doesn’t mean you should settle for a small screen laptop for your design work. A 13 inch laptop might be attractive at first sight, and it might bring a lot of portability to the table, but it gets rather difficult to do any editing on such a small screen.

Your aim should be at a laptop which carries a screen that’s at least 15.4 inches in diagonal screen size. Also, the pixel density, or DPI should be high. There are new laptop models which can output Full HD resolutions even on a standard 15.4inch screen.

Before you buy the thing, make sure you test it out. This means doing an actual resolution test and see which resolution works best for you. These newer notebooks are capable of decent resolutions and it would be wise to take your time and go through them.

You should open up several programs, like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator and see how the overall layout of the software fits into the screen, how large the editing space really is and if the edited image is sharp enough for you to work with. After several tries, you should come to a point where you find a laptop that’s just perfect for the work you intend to do.

If there’s a laptop you might like, like one of those MacBook Air which are rather small both in resolution output and the screen size itself, it’s a good idea to get a monitor which you can use to extend the current laptop desktop, so you can store all the toolbars and dockers on your laptop screen and do the editing work on the big monitor where you can see it better.

System memory or RAM

The system memory is another crucial factor to look for when you’re picking a laptop for graphic design work. Graphic design programs tend to use a lot of RAM and that can lead to poor system performance if the laptop is not prepared for such a task. The more RAM your laptop has, the better it will run in the grand scheme of things. A lot of RAM means the added ability to run several design programs at once and easily switch between them. The amount of system memory installed will also impact pretty much anything else you might be running on your computer, from movies, games, browsing or actual office work.

Now I know a lot of graphic designers and they tend to run a lot of programs all at once. Of course, their computers are configured with a ton of system memory which makes it easier for the computer to handle running Photoshop, Illustrator and other vector graphic design programs all at once. The thing to remember here is that the amount of system memory directly impacts overall system performance.

Your aim should be in the 4GB range minimum, and that’s just for starters. If you’re on a budget, this is your starting point and you should plan to add more memory modules in the future.

If you want to heavily multitask and run several programs aside from the graphic design ones, you should think about laptops with about 8GB of RAM installed. Several laptops available in the current market allow you to purchase the standard model, with about 4GB of RAM but they include the possibility of adding more via the open memory slots available.

Now if you go for an Apple laptop, you might want to take into account the extra charge you might come across if you intend to upgrade your current model with more RAM. Some vendors do this, and they charge extra if you want to upgrade your laptop. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you should try to get the RAM modules online and install them yourself, rather than pay extra for really easy screwdriver work.

Laptop CPU – Central Processing Unit – Processor

The CPU, or processor in the laptop is the part that makes all the calculations. It’s an essential piece of vector based design programs, where there are a lot of parameters to take into account. A decent CPU should be another thing on your list of things which make up the best laptop for graphic design.

There are several possible choices to be made here. A good starting point is to aim for laptops carrying at least a dual-core processor. This will allow you to run applications a lot better so you won’t suffer from system halts or sloppy operation.

If you opt for a laptop with a quad-core processor, you should have no trouble running pretty much any graphic design program out there.

Just remember – more cores means better laptop performance.

Graphics or Video Card

If you truly want the best laptop for graphic design, you will most likely never choose one which comes with an integrated graphics card. This is because integrated GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) uses the available RAM to output the image on the screen, whereas a dedicated graphics card has its own RAM, or VRAM.

You can lose a lot of RAM if your laptop has an integrated GPU, and system memory is very important in graphic design laptops.

Such systems will run slower since they will split up the available RAM for running the actual programs and the integrated graphics card. This should be another item on your list – get a laptop which has a dedicated graphics card.

Now if you were a gamer, you would be concerned with the type of graphics card installed, since this is an important aspect in gaming laptops. But since the laptop will be used for graphic design work, a mid-range video card will do just fine. If your work implies doing 3D graphics work as well, then a high-end graphics card is needed as well.

Current laptops in this niche have good graphics cards with about 1-2GB of dedicated memory. These are good for both graphics design and a bit of gaming as well when you’re not in the mood for work.

If you do intend to play a lot of games, or start doing 3D modelling and renders, then you should take a look at Alienware laptops or the Republic of Gamers series from Asus, since these are configured to play the latest games at the highest possible visual settings.

Laptops for graphic design will carry a dedicated graphics card which has its own memory or VRAM.

Portability – This is what you sacrifice

If you think you’ll be buying a very portable laptop then you might be mistaken.

The best laptops for graphic design have a lot of powerful components installed and this might make it a bit hard for the laptop battery to last more than a couple of hours. You sacrifice portability for performance when you choose a laptop for this type of work, but it’s well worth it.

In conclusion

The best laptops for graphic design are configured with a decent-sized screen which allows a good native resolution so you can fit in all those toolbars, dockers and still have enough screen left for the image that’s being edited. Also, there’s a hefty amount of RAM installed, a dedicated graphics card and at least a dual-core processor, if not a quad-core.

Accomplished Graphic Designers Expand Into the Digital Media Market

The definition of graphic design is expanding as new technologies grow. Skilled graphic designers solve visual communication problems or troubles. Proficient in design, drawing, color, typography, production, and rendering methods, off-set printing, as well as common software used in the graphic-design market such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are necessary. With the development in new media, a comprehension about photography, and time-based and interactive media including film, video, and computer multimedia also are of great importance to keep abreast of technology. Although graphic-designers find solutions primarily for print, advertisements, annual reports, packaging, business stationery, brochures, flyers, catalogues, logos, and just about anything you can think of to help businesses stand out, their design “eye” is also used in electronic media sources such as video and audio recordings, multimedia presentations, slide presentations, CD-ROM and website content.

Determining the social and cultural norms of a specific audience helps graphic artists efficiently construct visual solutions. They need to identify the communication’s issue, then collect and examine information related to the issue, and finally crank out numerous approaches to solve the problem. Effective graphic design is perceived as understandable, appropriate, and useful. We see graphic design everywhere in our daily lives in magazines, newspapers, and books, in hand made work, on painted canvas, expressed through photography, or in pure text. The work of graphic artists and its impression has been around for many years.

While in art school, students take graphic and design courses aimed at both print and multimedia design. It is in the best interest of graphic artists to be introduced to both areas, because many designers work in the visual development of web design. If artists want to remain competitive, graphic / web designers must keep up to date with the latest software and computer technologies. In the constantly changing field of graphic design, there are website designers who also are graphic designers and vice versa. However, there are other artists who have decided to specialize only in print related graphic design or only in web site design and its development with a concentration on the technical side of web site building.

It’s fascinating to note that currently many people associate graphic artists only with the print medium. But the times are changing. Even though website designers are not able to exist without the web, and graphic artists really don’t need the web to practice their profession, there are numerous artists involved in the visual creation of websites. Within just the commercial art field there are discussions among artists about the differences between graphic and web designers. Many feel that website design is a sub category of graphic-design.

However, website designers have to take into consideration content design and usability, user experience, and other functional criteria which all relate to the particular features of the Web medium. Website designers need more skills beyond those of traditional graphic artists, whereas the conventional graphic designer continues to find answers to communication problems by deciding on color, font, and images. The conventional graphics job may call for branding such as logo design that showcase a particular idea or identity to be used in a business enterprise’s advertising and other marketing strategies, or almost anything you can think of to enable a group stand out, or it may require constructing posters, signs, brochures, books, or incredible images in the digital media.

Discerning graphic artists do become knowledgeable about the wants for elegant web design while working closely with the web developers, who will turn their visual web designs into the code which enables them to be displayed on the Internet. For the artists who also welcome the technical side of web site creation, they may end up either exchanging their graphic artists’ role for website designer hats or just using both simultaneously!