Career Advice
March 4, 2022

How to become a Graphic Designer

How to become a Graphic Designer

Graphic design is an exciting industry with many opportunities and possibilities. If you wish to venture into this career, here are a few things that you need to know. There are different types of graphic designers; the in-house graphic designer, the agency graphic designer, and the freelance graphic designer. You need to have a graphic design educational background, good software skills, and interpersonal skills. It’s okay if you do not tick all the boxes of the qualities of a good graphic designer, as these qualities could develop over time through experiences similar to other types of careers. 

What is worth knowing is that your passion to continuously learn about graphic design will lead you to a successful career. Let’s read more about this creative career!

What are the types of graphic designers and how to apply for the job position?

Types of Graphic Designers

In-House Graphic Designers- design company’s product they work with.

The in-house graphic designers are responsible for any design requests by the company they work with. Let’s say you are working for an ice cream company, you may be required to work on the visuals of social media postings, newsletters, campaigns, and advertisements. 

Depending on the size of the company, they may work as the only graphic designer in the company or work in a team of graphic designers to complete the given tasks by the deadlines. They must familiarize themselves with the visual identity of the company, their target audience, and study the company’s product. So, if you are representing an ice cream company, get to know the ice cream flavors, the texture of the ice cream, its benefits, and why the ice cream is better than other brands. 

Perhaps, if you think as if you are the company’s ice cream ambassador, it may help you to create designs that communicate well with the audience. 🍨🍦🍨🍦

How to apply for the job position : Build a portfolio that contains your best work. It would be a plus if you have experience as an in-house graphic designer but this is not necessary. Actively seek job vacancies for companies; that are currently hiring, send emails to inquire about a job vacancy, and connect through professional job networks platforms such as LinkedIn. Understanding the company’s brand would be a good start prior to the interview session to get a good grasp of the types of design you will be designing for the company. This also portrays that you are a diligent potential to be their in-house graphic designer too! 

Agency Graphic Designers- design company’s clients’ products.

The agency graphic designers work with various clients from different companies. If you work in an agency, you have the opportunity to challenge yourself to design a variety of types of products. You may work for an insurance company, a car company, and a food company on the same day.  

The amendments of the designs are requested by the clients, thus, it is advisable to set design revisions limits before agreeing to design for any company. This is to avoid making too many design amendments that will affect your designs timelines for other brands. 

Challenge is a good thing, but setting tasks boundaries could help you from feeling burnout. A pressured mind may affect your designs poorly.

How to apply for the job position: Build a portfolio that contains your best work. It would be a plus if you have experience as an agency graphic designer but this is not necessary. Actively seek job vacancies for companies; that are currently hiring, send emails to inquire about a job vacancy, and connect through professional job networks platforms such as LinkedIn. Get to know the agency’s clients and their products. 

Freelance Graphic Designers- self-employed designers that design for a variety of clients in a set time frame.

Freelance graphic designers have the flexibility to set their work schedules and approach the company they want to work for. They can work with companies in an agreed specified time frame. 

They are self-employed and can work remotely. Freelance graphic designers must have a good portfolio and work ethics to build trust with the companies they want to work for. They need to market themselves to find new clients and opportunities.

How to apply for the job position: Highlights your experiences and create a portfolio. Brand and market yourself well to make it easier for potential clients to contact you. You need to actively seek for your clients to get new projects and expand your networks. Don’t forget to ask for referrals to build trust in your next target clients.

Get your resume in check and click here on The Tips to Create a Good Graphic Designer Resume.


The education and skills needed to become a graphic designer

How and where do I get formal and informal graphic design education?

You can start by taking courses at the professional institutions such as accredited design schools, bootcamps, short courses, mentorship programs or self-learning by studying from the internet resources such as the Youtube tutorials and downloading designs software.

Digital Media Designs

This includes designing for social media platforms, web design, and any design that you see on the screen. 

The digital media industry is rapidly changing from time to time and that includes visual designing. You need to keep updating your knowledge by continuously learning to craft captivating images that catch the audience’s eyes, study the rules and regulations of the visual designs on digital media platforms as well as the designing tools.

Learn about Motion Graphics: Why This Eye-Catching Art Form Is in High Demand.

Visual Literacy

Visual education is important to understand the rationale behind each visual creation.

A visual literacy study is a program in which you could explore the consumers’ interaction towards various types of media platforms. You will learn about marketing, advertising, copywriting, and more. 

Knowing how to design and create beautiful images is not sufficient when your creations have no engagement and meaning to the audience. The audience needs to understand your designs too, this is how you communicate through your designs.

Web Design

This skill is required to create functional designs on websites that users could interact with.

A web design course is a combination of technology, graphic design, and marketing. You have good options whether to study IT and major in graphic design or study in graphic design and media arts with technological skills focus. 

Technology knowledge and design study work hand-in-hand to optimize a good functional web design that users’ could conveniently browse without hassle (or prevent annoying attempts of repeatedly clicking the same button over and over again). 😆

Graphic Design

Learn ways  to improve your design skills and gain new design knowledge.

The graphic design course is where you learn about the design theories that include syllabuses that focus on different elements of design. A basic understanding of theories is important as these guide you to give meaning to your designs. The rationale behind each color and each element of design are significant for the audience to understand the underlying message behind a piece of graphic design.

Read more on the 8 Types of Graphic Design.

How do I learn graphic designer skills?

These skills can be learned from the education programs and could be enhanced through experiences. Skills need to be polished from time to time, be patient in learning, learn from mistakes and master design skills one step at a time.

1. Learn design skills - study from the experts and informative resources.

(Well, duh! 🙄). You need to develop design skills from universities, Bootcamps, or short courses. These skills must be learned in theories and practical applications for you to get a good grasp of the types of design tasks that you might encounter in the future. Through these design programs, you will be equipped with a basic understanding as a graphic designer before stepping into the industry. 

There are tons of tutorials available online,  why the need to learn? Well, self-learning is different from learning from the experts of the industry. You only get the information based on what you search for ( self-learning), but with experts, you will gain more knowledge than you knew existed. 

2. Learn design tools- technical skills that are needed for you to design your projects.

This skill is highly in demand in almost every industry including graphic design. As a graphic designer, you are expected to be able to use graphic design software such as Adobe InDesign, Figma, Gravit Designer, and CorelDRAW Graphics to assist with your creations and increase the efficiency and productivity of your work. 

3. Develop Interpersonal skills - active interaction with the people in the industry.

A part of communicating through your designs, it is fairly important to communicate with your clients, colleagues (this does not limit to designers only), and other project collaborators. 

“You mean, I have to actually talk to other people?” Yes, you do. As graphic designers, people will understand and respect the privacy that you need to complete your task. However, building connections with the people in and outside the office (regardless of whether they are related to your current projects or not) will be beneficial in the long run. 

You might find new collaborations, new potential projects, and even new design perspectives! 

How about a smile for a start? There is a big probability you will receive a smile back compared to smiling on a digital screen. Oh, a mirror doesn’t count 😁.

View the list of in-demand graphic designer skills here.

The qualities as a graphic designer

How do I master the good qualities as a Graphic Designer? 

1. Eager to learn - welcoming knowledge as they come. 

The design industry is constantly changing and evolving. As a graphic designer, you must be willing to learn and adapt to the environment. Be prepared to use different types of software, get inspired by the people around you as well as your surroundings, and always look forward to gaining new knowledge and skills. 

Embrace the endless learning opportunity that will help with your career growth and development! 

2. An active inspiration seeker- that always hunger for creativity.

Inspiration comes in many forms. You could get inspired through a book, TV shows, the outdoors, or even your dreams. Inspiration helps designers to create meaningful designs that bring impacts to the audience.

Not only will you increase your creativity level but you will also gain new insights of different elements from your new inspirations that could be translated onto your current or future designs. 

3. Open to feedback - that are constructive and contribute to your career growth.

Share your design with the world- with an open heart and mind. There will be some (or many) comments that you-didn’t-see-it-coming. Do not get disheartened or discouraged. Listen, process, learn and filter this feedback to improve your designs. 

You can never learn and realize your mistake if everyone is minding their own business (just do not invite them while you’re watching your favorite Netflix shows 😆). 

Welcome feedback that will enhance your career.

4. Ready to level up- at any given opportunity as possible.

There is a saying that once you are too comfortable where you are, it is time to make yourself uncomfortable again. Uncomfortable due to the new challenges, new risks, and unfamiliar environments that await you in the next chapters of your career as a graphic designer. 

Say yes to new opportunities, building new networks, and advance ideas. Level up ya’ll. 😎

5. Evolve & Adapt - towards career difficulties and constant change.

Just like your favorite superhero or women empowerment movies, YOU TOO  will evolve and adapt to the design industry. Success does not occur overnight. Dreams need some (read: zillion times) effort to make it into reality. 

Be open towards changes, setbacks, and struggles because these will increase your patience and determination on future projects. Go YOU!

What a graphic designer should know

What a Graphic Designer Should Know? 

...and How to adapt the graphic designer lifestyles?

1. Thank those ‘boring’ jobs- you might learn to love them. 

You are not always a part of ‘exciting’ projects. Most of your projects are given by clients of various brands and you are responsible to accept the design direction by the company-even if you-don’t-feel-like-it. 🥲Take this opportunity to learn about the products, you may learn a tip or two that could help with your future designs. 

Accept the challenge and you might be surprised by how the results shall turn out. You will never know until you are given the chance to be a part of those projects, isn’t it? 

2. Communicate through designs- create designs that talk to consumers.

Every design comes with underlying messages to interact with the audience. Sometimes too much creativity on designs may distract the audience’s understanding of your art.  A design that is ‘hard to read’ can be easily dismissed and forgotten which will affect the client’s brand and your reputation as a designer. 

There must be a balance between your creativity, and the message that you want to convey from your design. Perhaps ask yourself, “How to simplify the brand’s message through my design so that the target audience could understand at first glance?”.

3. Welcome collaborations- make friends, expand networks will lead to many opportunities!

Collaborations are important to your career growth and development. Having your personal goal and career plan is great but ‘joining forces' with other individuals, organizations with different missions will challenge your skills, provide many insights from multiple perspectives, and could direct you to new paths that you could never imagine possible.

Read here on the benefits of working collaboratively among designers.

4. Create peace with working hours - by adding in something you love that will increase your motivation & determination.

Long working hours would be dreadful without companions. You will either hate your work or will find silly excuses to procrastinate, and of course well-aware that you will pay for overdue submission later on. Drink coffee ☕, listen to groovy music 🎶  📻, bring your pets in 🐈, or anything as an energy booster while completing your tasks. 

Best ideas usually easily emerge when you are feeling less pressured and optimistic. 

5. Accept change - it might be hard to keep up with the industry.

This is not limited to design amendments or revisions. Your career plan may need to have some adjustments as well. It may take more trial and error than you think and along the way, you might doubt your abilities and start to question your decisions. Am I doing the right thing? Why can’t I be better like other graphic designers? Why is it so hard to create a simple design?

Every graphic designer (and other careers out there) will encounter tons of obstacles while working their way towards success. It is through change that will truly test whether ‘do we really want this?’ or whether you have reached a point where you do not know what you want anymore. Change triggers our sense of belief in ourselves but if you accept it, you will stay and give a good fight all the way, because you believe that you have what it takes to become a successful graphic designer.

So, are you ready to prepare yourself as a graphic designer? There are many growth and career developments available in the design industry which you could explore more into. You may refer to this blog for the Top 10 Design Careers in 2010. If you are passionate about graphic design and willing to constantly upgrade your designing skills in this field, this may be the career for you. 

Start taking the first step today.