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the graduate’s guide to entering a career in graphic design

Celina Julia C. Borromeo

Graphic design is not a career one can just dive into with ease. Not only is this industry intensely cut-throat, it will take employers and potential clients some serious convincing to hire you in the f irst place. You have to be able to present yourself well and stand out as a graphic designer because competition is undeniably tough. If you are unpreprared, the shock of the overwhelming stress and incredibly large amount of work expected from a graphic designer might be fatal! An overworked designer once said “Graphic Design is not one job, it’s twenty�. There are many many things to keep in mind: time constraints, client tastes, f inancial limits, aesthetics, and design substance to name a few. this guide will attempt to familiarize you with tips, tricks, and valuable knowledge about making it big in this profession. ready?

the graphic designer creates graphics for both business and pleasure. they usually work for commercial companies creating graphics for print advertisements, logos, website graphics, etc. ultimately, they work to create an image that can be incorporated with reading material.

the graphic designer

graphic design industry “Graphic design dates back to prehistoric times. With hieroglyphs and cave-dwelling designs that became some of the f irst written language. Although communication, not aestheticism, was the primary concern, one can still argue for the overall visual design of the prehistoric artists. With the 1584 Gutenberg Printing Press, graphic design took on a whole new meaning. Now, text, coupled with visual appeal, could reach a wider audience than ever before. Although the use was - at f irst - primarily for Biblical and other important writings, the trend would soon spread to visual-appeal. Graphic design, as we know it, didn’t reach its boom until the computer era. With companies f inding it increasingly necessary to have a corporate identity solution, visually-pleasing logo, and an online presence, graphic designers are def initely getting all the work they can handle.�

David Davis

lead developer and project manager of Redf iy Studios Graphic Design Ireland.

Government economists expect job growth for graphic designers to be as fast as the average for all careers through 2016. One reason is the rapidly expanding Internet and video markets Graphic design is a very popular career choice, so expect a lot of competition for jobs.

Although it is apparent that most designers nowadays keep their portfolios in a website, a tangible portfolio will do well during interviews.

Choosing a case for your work should be the f irst step of creating your graphic design portfolio. The style of the case and the size of the case will play a role in what will be inside.

Be sure to also take into account the size of the pages to see if it will be a good size to display the work you have. For example, if you do a lot of poster designs you may want a larger case so you can print your designs at a larger size.



The background paper in your case should be a neutral color, most likely a white or light grey and should be used throughout your entire portfolio.

Like your paper usage, the work and placement of your work should be consistent as well. If you center all your designs on each page make sure they are center everywhere.

You should spend a lot of time choosing the right work for your portfolio.

Your work should be current and you should tailor the type of work in your portfolio to the job you are applying for.

When the viewer opens your portfolio you want to “wow” them, but the key is to keep them “wowed” throughout the entire presentation.

Ending strong is just as important as starting strong, if not more important, because you want to leave a good visual memory in the mind of the viewer.

• Your graphic design resume is going to be just as important as your portfolio, if not more important than your portfolio when it comes to job hunting. This is because most people will examine your resume before they open your portfolio book, meaning your resume is going to be your f irst impression!

The paper you use for your graphic design resume can tell your potential employer a lot about you.

You don’t want to go overboard with a resume, because the information on the resume in the end is the most important part.

don’t design your resume in Microsoft Word! stay away from display fonts and free fonts and instead go with some classical fonts. Probably the most important font to avoid in a design resume would be Times New Roman! Even Helvetica can be frowned upon sometimes, because its bee branded so much as the “designers font” that some people consider it overused

Readability is very important so don’t make your type too small

Find out a little bit about the company you want to work for. Visit the location in person if it is a store or building open to the general public.

the dream job

Visit the company’s Website and talk to anyone you might know who works there.

Be on time for your interview.

Employers expect employees to arrive on time to work.

The best way to ensure a good f irst impression is to dress smart If you are interviewing for a job in an offIce, it is usually best to wear a dark-colored, conservative suit. If you are interviewing for a job where the dress code is more casual, nice slacks and a collared button-down shirt with a tie for men and a nice dress or blouse and slacks or skirt for women are usually appropriate. You should avoid wearing excessive jewelry, perfume, and f lamboyant clothes. Good personal hygiene is also important.

When you arrive in the interview, give them your business card.

It should be well designed, memorable, simple and hopefully have a great idea. It should be unique and you should be branded.

Don’t talk about holiday or money in an interview.

speak eloquently and politely. no matter what f ield you are in and are applying for, an interview is always a formal interaction.

thank you for your time. When you get back home, send an email thanking them for the interview. Make sure your branding is consistent on your business card, CV and email signature.

Many artistic or creative jobs have intense competition and graphic design is no exception. To succeed in this f ield requires a wide variety of design experience.

beginning with traditional skills such as drawing and painting, up to and including a thorough understanding of how to use computer software technology.


Because of the competitive nature of creative jobs, those with an education and knowledge of computer design software, especially web design and animation, will have the best chance of success.

The f ield of graphic design is broad, and there are many different ways of using design skills.

Graphic designers help plan the layout of magazines, newspapers, and corporate reports. They may work closely with copywriters to design marketing brochures.


Many graphic designers specialize in developing material for web pages

others may specialize in photographic techniques. Graphic designers create CD covers, movie credits, letterhead, signs, distinctive logos, and calendars.

Anywhere images are displayed, somewhere there is a graphic designer behind them.

Graphic design is a complex profession that requires intelligence, knowledge, talent and skill in a wide range of work domains


Graphic designers have creative, yet well-organized minds.

They have a solid understanding of color, line, composition, and design.


They take an idea, a concept, and communicate that idea in a way that informs and/or entertains visually.

They utilize branding concepts to create a visual identity for a client or product. Sales and marketing rely heavily on graphic design to inf luence customers to buy the products advertised.

they work extensively with clients, listening carefully to a client’s needs and interpreting those needs into a design project.



they often present their ideas and discover that the client had something else in mind, so they redesign until the customer is satisf ied.

A graphic designer cannot be so in love with his design that he or she fails to meet the customer’s needs and expectations.

Most importantly, graphic designers must have outstanding communications skills.

They must be able to communicate visually, verbally and in writing. The mechanics of oral and written communication, grammar, punctuation and spelling, are as important as color, line and composition.

Promote yourself!

Network (without over doing it) every chance you get.

Continuously give your business card out to as many people as you can. The easiest way to do this is by asking people that you talk with for their business card. Whether you are applying for a job at a f irm or if you decide to go on your own and freelance, it is important to brand yourself as a designer and make sure you’re well known out there.

Wherever you are, you need to attract clients. In the vast sea of graphic designers, it is ex-

tremely important for potential clients to think of YOU when they need a design job done.

{Find your niche, and develop it.} there are many many avenues in graphic design one can master: print, logo design, web design, lay-out artistry, and the like.

The need for talented and creative individuals who can master graphic design and keep up with computer technology continues to increase. The rapid growth of the World Wide Web is creating more and more opportunities for graphic designers. Those with web site design and animation experience will be especially needed.

Additional opportunities are arising from the expansion of the entertainment industry. Although competition can be intense, a designer who is determined to succeed, works hard, and stays on top of new technology defInitely has a bright future.

The purpose of graphic design is not to express our feelings about the world. the designer’s work isn't created for exhibition or to almost be passively viewed by an audience. designers provide a service. designers do what their clients ask for. excellent design is achieved in the middle of good interpretation of a client’s needs and eff icient delivery with aesthetic sensibilities. Good clients who are diff icult can be the best kind to have. They challenge you to do your best work. They don't want anything mundane. They don't want an imitation or something they've seen a million times before. They know that in order to sell their product or service it has to have a unique selling proposition, one that is visualized by a unique, effective design solution. They seek out the designer who has a distinctive voice and who can give voice to their vision. clients have to like you. They have to able to believe in you and believe you can do something that they can't do or shouldn't spend their time doing. To justify hiring you, they have to believe you can do something that no one else can. It’s also important to know how to price your designs or services. Designers are a little reluctant to charge for their work because they love what they do. and it feels amazing to get paid for something you love to do. but to keep your business running. of course, if you work for in a f irm, a salary is already set for you. but if your’re a f reelance designer, you have to consider actual production costs for your design, compare prices with similar jobs, and input regular employer’s hourly rates and then compute a projected timeframe for completing the project. basically, graphic designers should be able to handle clients well because without them, the designer will be out of a job. you have to remember that you are providing a service and that the client’s word is golden. it will always be possible to reach an acceptable compromise when you input their orders and your own taste and aesthetics as well.


the graduate's guide to entering a career in graphic design

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