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What is being a graphic designer really like?

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably interested in a career as a graphic designer. Maybe you’re just starting out and learning the basics, or maybe you’ve been designing for years because, well, you can’t help but pick up a pen and start designing…

Whichever stage you’re at, welcome! Here at Design Academy we love nothing more than helping budding graphic designers on their journey. But you probably have one burning questions – what’s being a graphic designer really like; is it the career for me? So, today we have a few tips to show you what life as a graphic designer is really like.

What a graphic designer does

Let’s look at the nitty gritty – what a graphic designer does every day. The exact list of tasks you’ll do will vary a little bit depending on what company you work for, or if you work for yourself, but the general duties include:

  • Meeting with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project.

  • Analysing a brief and coming up with a concept.

  • Using digital illustration, photo editing software and layout software to create designs.

  • Creating visual elements like logos, original images, and illustrations to deliver a specific message.

  • Designing layouts and select colours, images, typefaces and fonts to use.

  • Presenting design concepts to clients or art directors.

  • Incorporating changes recommended by clients or art directors into final designs.

  • Reviewing designs for errors before printing or publishing them.

As a graphic designer, you will be involved in most if not all stages of a design project, from the initial briefing through to the final delivery. It will be your job to combine art and technology to communicate ideas, using a wide range of tools, techniques and design elements that are at your disposal.

You’ll work with both copy and images: selecting typeface, font, size and colour of the copy, and choosing images (photographs, illustrations and created pieces chosen by you or the art director, or supplied by the client), and then seeing how the two work best together.

Sometimes there’ll be a lot of copy, for example in a magazine; sometimes there’ll be hardly any, for example on a poster. Sometimes there’ll be great images; sometimes there won’t – it’s your job to make the design not only look as good as possible but to best communicate the message too.

You will often work closely with writers, have to deal with ideas and minds changing along the way (sometimes!), and keep up to date with the latest software, design tools and techniques to stay on top of your game.

Employed vs self-employed

Graphic design is a specialised skill, so a good designer will always be in demand. To meet that demand, you can either go down the traditional employment route, or you can set up for your own business as a sole trader. There are pros and cons to both of these routes.

As an employee you will have a stable salary, consistent briefs from clients and do not need to worry about where work is going to come from – but you won’t have the freedom to peruse the kind of work you want to do, and you will be limited by your job role.

As a freelance graphic designer you have the freedom to work for whatever kind of client you want, brand yourself however you want and run the business in your own style – but you will be working hard for every paycheck, be constantly marketing yourself for new business, and you will need to become skilled in all areas of running a business – not just graphic design.

At Design Academy, we work with people just like you, helping them gain an understanding of what their chosen career will really be like, and how to make the best start in their career as a graphic designer.

Our course is split into four ‘disciplines’ that cover the key areas of design, including graphic design and information design, and much more. Each day will be taught by an expert in that discipline, who will teach you valuable design skills, guide you through projects, help you discover your strengths and give you an insight into what a career in that discipline is like. The fifth and final day is spent giving you portfolio guidance so that when your UCAS application comes around your portfolio is a strong as it can be.

There is no other design summer school in the UK that does this – we’re the first and we’re offering an early-bird discount for bookings. So, come and join us!

To find out more, just get in touch, or book your space now for an Early-Bird discount.

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