Real Questions About Careers in Graphic Design

I recently spent a day being shadowed by Rebecca Dummet, a high school senior who came to our offices to learn about graphic design and video game development careers. She brought some great questions for me about the industry, my job, and how to get into graphic design. Her best questions and my answers are presented herehopefully useful to other aspiring visual designers!


Q: What types of college courses are required that relate to careers in Graphic Design?

A: Most have to do with graphic design history, and principles of design: typography, color theory, proportion, etc. While graphic design degrees are available, I personally would recommend a degree in communications, advertising, or business. Most talented and dedicated people can simply teach themselves enough to begin practicing effective graphic design. (This is my experience.) Having a degree in one of these non-design areas could make you a much more attractive hire for a smaller organization, and could give you better ability to climb in a larger organization. 

Q: What is a typical day in Graphic Design like?

A: An assignment, typically a creative brief, is received from the Creative Director or other project lead. Our sample creative brief for design, linked below, includes necessary project background, purpose, message, and assets. The designer is responsible for putting the assets together and adding an appealing, strategic style in order to create a piece that serves the stated goals and is built for the intended audience.

Free template of sample graphic design creative brief - link to PDF download       Free template of sample graphic design creative brief - link to Google Doc
Download the PDF or access the Google Doc in your browser via these links.

Q: Is Graphic Design a stressful field to work in?

A: It can be fast paced and sometimes chaotic, but that doesn’t bother me. The hardest part is getting clients to assess and consider from a strictly strategic perspective—communicating the right way to their intended audience—rather than from personal taste.

Q: Do you have to be artistic, such as being able to draw, to be in Graphic Design?

Example of Very Very rough drafts demonstrating the use of rule of thirds in graphic design.A: Design is more about communication than creativity. And drawing/illustration is hardly ever an element of finished design pieces. During the creative process, drafting (creating rough sketches of layouts) is common but it can be pretty darn ugly and still do the job. 

Q: What types of companies hire Graphic Designers?

A: While there are companies that strictly do graphic design (studios and firms), there are also many many companies of ALL types that employ in-house designers in their marketing or production departments. Any company that has to create visual communications or publications will either employ designers or contract with designers.

It’s important for young people considering a design career to know: you can pursue this calling to contribute to WHATEVER your core passion is. Love space exploration? Not everybody gets to become an astronaut but somebody gets to design and guard NASA’s branding. Love movies? Graphic designers are the ones who create all those amazing title sequences. Want to serve your community? You could work in-house as a graphic designer for a charity serving the cause you care most about, or you could join one of the many graphic design businesses that specifically serve nonprofits.

Stills fromthe title sequence for AMC's HALT AND CATCH FIRE, a collaboration between Antibody and Elastic.

Whatever your interest is, there’s a graphic design career that exists to enrich it… or one that’s waiting to be built. Maybe by you!

Q: What types of computer programs are commonly used among Graphic Designers?

A: The Adobe Creative Suite (now known as the Adobe Creative Cloud) is our tool of choice. Adobe Photoshop is used for image editing (such as photos and drawings), Adobe Illustrator is used for creating vector shapes and simple text layouts (like logos and icons, or banners), and Adobe InDesign is used to create layouts combining images, vector shapes, and text (like fliers, magazines, and books).

Q: What is the most memorable work assignment you have completed as a Graphic Designer?

A: When the U.S. Department of State did a tour of American cities a few years ago, the print shop I worked at was selected to create the menus for their dinner, served by New Orleans’ most famous chefs. I got to put together an elaborate, oversized menu printed in black and metallic gold ink, complete with biographies of the chefs and historical facts about New Orleans.

There you have it. Are you interested in graphic design careers? Did we answer any of your burning questions about the design industry? Tweet at us @storyblockmedia!

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