This is how you become a graphic designer
opportunity &: For those unfamiliar with the industry, what is a graphic designer?
jodi: A graphic designer is a visual communicator and typically has a BA or BFA in graphic design. They are often very conceptual and can turn ideas into balanced designs that result in a call to action or a response.
Opportunity U: What Types of Companies Hire Graphic Designers?
Jodi: Graphic designers can be found in many places, from newspapers to advertising agencies. I work for a university, but really all kinds of companies hire graphic designers. Designers with digital skills can find work at tech companies, and of course freelancing is an option for many designers.
Opportunity U: What can a day in the life of a graphic designer look like?
Jodi: Every day is different. As Art Director for the University of Nevada, Reno, I am expected to work on all projects and create beautiful print materials to help with student recruitment. Also, a big part of my job is directing hundreds of onsite photo shoots and videos around the University and Lake Tahoe. I help with budgets, create storyboards and even direct the shooting to tell the story of our university. Design is at the heart of everything I do.
Opportunity U: What Important Talents Should a Graphic Designer Have?
Jodi: Get to know Adobe software. Adobe Max is Adobe’s free online conference showcasing all of its software presented by movie stars, talented artists, designers, photographers and more. I use InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop every day at work.
Also, study all forms of design to understand how fonts, illustrations, and photos work together in creating infographics, posters, brochures, billboards, etc.
Another big part of my job is prepress, where I proof my work for printers. If the files aren’t perfect, then the project won’t be successful – this is very important. Sometimes it’s stressful being a graphic designer that the end result is 100% your responsibility.
Opportunity U: If someone wants to be a graphic designer, which major should they choose?
Jodi: I have a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. and an MA in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno. To get the top graphic design jobs, consider a BFA, which is more competitive and can help get your name at the top of the job search list. A BFA in graphic design can also earn you a higher salary.
Another important topic to explore is web interface design, a hot deal that can help you earn higher wages. If you can create designs in CSS, a computer design language, it can connect you to jobs at tech companies, local businesses, and advertising agencies that are looking for these kinds of talented interface designers.
Opportunity U: What types of classes would a student take as part of the program?
Jodi: In my BFA program I learned all mediums of fine arts and graphic design. Some of the courses I took were Figure Drawing, Color and Design, Instrument Drawing, 3D Sculpture, Photography, Art History, Watercolor Painting, Screen Printing and Lithography/Printmaking.
Part of the graphic design curriculum was creating a logo design and all branding for a fictional company. I designed a logo for an aquarium shop which I called “Finaroma”. I learned every step needed to design a cohesive and visually appealing project that I then presented to professors and classmates my senior year.
Also, I had to do an internship where I was art director for our university radio station – KUOP. I designed all marketing materials like postcards, posters, billboards and swag and helped with fundraisers.
Opportunity U: Outside of the majors, are there other courses a student should consider? Why?
Jodi: All four-year colleges require you to take general education courses, where you can mix and match electives to balance your art degree. I took several business courses that helped me understand the business world, including supply and demand, marketing, microeconomics and accounting. But it is entirely up to you which general education you want. I believe these courses help the student become a well-rounded, knowledgeable person.
Opportunity U: Outside of college classes, how can a student prepare or create their resume?
Jodi: I study the resumes of other designers who come to my office, but if you’re just starting out, you can check out what other designers are creating on LinkedIn. I find that a graphic designer needs to make their resumes super sharp and visually appealing.
Opportunity U: Where do you see the graphic design field?
Jodi: In great demand. Print is still a viable medium and a good graphic designer pays well. The field will continue to be strong as all businesses need to communicate visually with customers and ensure customers interact with their products and brand. I also have dozens of freelance jobs throughout the year and work with clients on the weekends to make extra money. There will always be work for graphic designers!
Opportunity U: What is your advice for students interested in a career in graphic design?
Jodi: Work hard, stay humble, and be willing to work on any project, whether it’s a business card, flyer, or high-quality brochure. Give 100% to your work and always be open to the input of other employees or customers. You can ALWAYS improve your work.