Work experience - 8 years (+ tiny bit of freelance while studying)
Degree - BA(hons) Graphic Communication
Tools - Adobe CS
Salary - Around $40k–50k
Country - UK
Advice - If you’re going to Uni, use that time to literally do anything you want and be as creative as possible, don’t bother trying to be ‘commercial’ or make your work look ‘professional’. Scratch that creative itch.
You’ll spend your first 2–3 years in actual work re-learning what graphic design is in the real world and learning what brand guidelines are. It’ll be boring, trust me, but work through it.
You probably won’t feel like doing much related to design outside of work as you’ll be a bit deflated, but BE A SPONGE. Get creative magazines like Creative Review, Computer Arts and Campaign. Go to Florence. Sketch out people on the train. Take pictures. If you see something printed that you think looks cool, grab it and put it in your inspiration box/drawer/room.
You’ll miss being able to be creative and do what you want, but work through it.
Slowly as you progress through the years and the briefs, you’ll start getting a bit more freedom with what you can and can’t do. As your Creative Director begins to trust your creative decisions and you get better as a designer through all that sponging you’ve been doing, you’ll get some open-ended briefs that let you do your thing.
At some point you’ll get a re-brand or a product launch from someone that’s not afraid to spend money on cool boxes and sexy print finishes. That’ll be fun, and rewarding, and it’ll make all the boring stuff worth it before. You might even see your designs in shops and tell your mates who won’t really care… but you will.
If you haven’t been to Uni, remember that portfolio is always more important than qualifications.
If you have been to Uni, remember that portfolio is always more important than qualifications.
Don’t get into design for the money. There’s not much of it until you get good, and you’ll have to work harder than all your mates with ‘normal’ jobs.
Don’t assume that what looks good to you looks good to everyone else.
Don’t be afraid of criticism. It’s the only way you’ll learn.
Also remember most people will have a creative opinion, and the ones you should really take in are the ones of other experienced creatives you respect. Most others should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Learn keyboard shortcuts.
Keep up to date with Adobe software. Watch the youtube tutorials and don’t stop learning.
Don’t do wedding invites for mates, they’re too much hassle and you’ll never get paid enough for it.
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