Our most frequently-asked question by FAR is, “how did you get started in graphic design”? While there are many paths (design school, online courses, self-education, etc.) to becoming a designer, today we’re sharing what worked for us in a fool-proof formula of self-education.
-Take advantage of the resources available to you
Back in our (financially stressful) college days, UCSB offered a free subscription to lynda.com to all students and we jumped on that immediately. Tons of schools and organizations offer resources and learning tools to help get you acquainted with your trade. If you’re not affiliated with a school or larger organization, try using free trials of learning platforms like lynda.com or skillshare.
-Find a mentor
The deciding factor that pushed our Design Director, Meredith, away from her scheduled path to grad school (for interpersonal communication research) was meeting her mentor. This prestigious stylist from Manhattan took Meredith under her wing and helped her navigate what was a “comfortable path” from her true calling. After spending several meetings together going over a new resume design, client profiles, and internship opportunities, Meredith knew that she had to keep going down this road of uncertain excitement. It was in seeing someone else believe in her dream that Meredith was able to find her own confidence as a designer.
-Narrow down your options
The gigantic umbrella of tasks that fall under “graphic design” can feel a bit daunting to someone who is just starting out. After learning more about the different types of design (I.e. web, package, branding, animation, etc.), start to narrow down the scope of your path. It might seem advantageous to learn everything all at once, but mastering your skillset in one or two specific areas is going to be your ticket to attracting the right clients.
-Consider the day-to-day
A common perception of designers is that we just draw all day and make pretty things (if only it were that simple). Designing is a JOB, like any other, with pros (illustrating logos for hours) and cons (dealing with not-so-pleasant clients). It’s important to envision how you’d like your day-to-day to look once you become established. Do you see yourself working with a team of educated creatives in an fast-paced agency environment? Or would you prefer to work with more flexibility, from the comfort of your own home as a freelancer? There are pluses and minuses to both - and it’s crucial to think about your day-to-day when looking for introductory jobs or clients.
-Be like a sponge
REALLY spend the time it takes to learn all that you can. While it can take years to fully reach your potential as a designer (and feel confident in your abilities to master any project that comes at you), the first year is critical in the long-haul. Spend whatever time you can watching tutorials, meeting with a mentor, reaching out to local creatives to make connections, and reading design blogs. Each piece of information you pick up will be added to your arsenal of design tricks over time.
Here are our favorite resources for getting a jumpstart on your graphic design career:
youtube.com (seriously - you’d be surprised what you can learn here for FREE)
adobe.com (a creative cloud subscription comes with free tutorials for most programs)
+follow creatives with a similar aesthetic to yours on Instagram
+follow boards with design inspiration Pinterest
We hope this helps those of you who need advice about where to start as a designer, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of you getting started now! Tag us on instagram with your introductory work, we’d love to see which direction you travel in!