Everything You Need to Start Your Career In Graphic Design
Graphic design has evolved tremendously as a field in the past few years. What started out as a few people in advertising agencies hand-drawing layouts for print ads has turned into an entire industry of its own. Today, graphic design is essential to nearly every business, from small startups to large corporations.
Since most businesses have some form of online presence, a lot of graphic design work goes into creating digital assets such as website layouts, social media posts, and banner ads. Freelancers worldwide have seized this opportunity to make a living by offering their services to businesses in need of graphic designers.
If you’re considering pursuing graphic design as a hobby or even a career, you’ve come to the right place. This blog post will review some of the basics of graphic design and provide resources for further learning.
How to Pitch/Reach Out to Brands About Potential Graphic Design Work
Set Yourself Up For Success
So, how does one get started in the graphic design field? The best way to start is by building up a strong portfolio of your work. Nobody will hire you if you don’t showcase your talent and skill set somehow. From a simple WordPress site to a comprehensive Behance portfolio, there are many ways to put your work out there for the world to see.
Once you have a portfolio, the next step is finding clients. If you’re just beginning your journey, you may want to look for small businesses or startups open to working with less experienced designers. You can also reach out to friends or family who may need help creating a logo or designing a wedding invitation.
Another great way to find work is through job boards or freelancing platforms like 99designs and Fiverr. These websites connect businesses with freelancers for projects, from one-time tasks to long-term engagements. You’ll interact with clients, submit your completed work, and get paid, all in one place.
Pitching your services to a potential client can be daunting regardless of which option you choose. But don’t worry, we have some tips for you. If you opt for the direct route, the steps are as follows:
1. Make a list of businesses you’d like to work with
2. Research each business and find the right contact person (usually someone in marketing or management)
3. Draft a personalized email or message describing your services and why you’re the perfect fit for the project
4. Attach your portfolio or links to previous work
5. Hit send!
When reaching out to a potential client, ensure your email or message is professional and polite. Start by introducing yourself and letting them know how you found their company. Then, get straight to the point by briefly explaining what services you can offer and how you think you can help them. Try to keep things short and sweet; these are busy people, after all.
Remember that cold pitching is a numbers game. The more people you reach out to, the higher your chances of landing a project. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back from your first few pitches. Follow up after a week or two if you haven’t heard anything back; that extra nudge might just be what gets you the job.
Apps and Programs
As you probably know if you have experience with graphic design, many different software programs can be used to make your life easier. These programs are constantly evolving, but some of the most popular ones right now include:
A staple in the graphic design industry, Adobe offers a suite of programs that designers use all over the world. The two most popular ones are Photoshop and Illustrator. However, they also offer InDesign, After Effects, and Premier Pro, among others.
Adobe’s Creative Cloud plan gives you access to all of their programs for a monthly subscription fee. Or, if you only need one or two programs, you can purchase them outright. Note that there is a certain learning curve with Adobe products, so prepare to spend some time getting familiar with the interface and tools.
Adobe Illustrator represents the most widely used tool for graphic editors. It allows you to create vector graphics, which are images that can be resized without losing quality. This is perfect for logos, illustrations, and infographics. Adobe Photoshop is a raster graphics editor that uses pixels to create images. It’s great for photo editing, retouching, and creating detailed graphics.
Depending on the campaign, you may also need to use programs like InDesign, After Effects, and Premier Pro. Designers use InDesign mostly for print design, such as creating magazines, flyers, and posters. After Effects is a motion graphics program that allows you to create animations and special effects. And Premier Pro is a video editing program that you can use to create marketing videos, commercials, and other types of video content.
If you’re looking for a more user-friendly (and affordable) option, Canva might be the right fit for you. Canva is an online platform that has exploded in popularity over the past few years. It’s beloved by amateurs and professionals alike for its simple drag-and-drop interface and extensive library of templates, images, and illustrations.
Canva offers a free plan that gives you access to most of its features. However, if you want to download your designs in high resolution or use royalty-free images, you’ll need to sign up for their paid plan, which starts at $12.99 per month.
Most beginners will find that Canva offers everything they need to get started with graphic design. And if you ever need to use more advanced features, you can always upgrade to their paid plan or switch to another program down the road.
A good middle ground between the simplicity of Canva and the feature-rich nature of Adobe is Affinity Designer. Affinity Designer is a vector graphic editor available for PC, Mac, and even Ipad, which is excellent if you plan to work on the go.
Affinity Designer has a relatively low learning curve and offers most of the features that you’d find in Adobe Illustrator. However, its low one-time purchase price makes it much more affordable than Adobe Creative Cloud. It has a clean interface and powerful features, making it a great option for both beginners and professionals.
What if we told you there was an open-source (free) alternative to Photoshop? That’s exactly what GIMP is. GIMP has been around for decades and is constantly being updated with new features. It offers a wide range of tools for creating and editing images, making it a decent option for those on a budget.
Of course, since GIMP is free, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Photoshop. The user interface can also be a bit clunky and dated. But if you put in the time to learn the program, it can be a great way to get started with graphic design without breaking the bank.
Different Styles of Graphic Design
There are all sorts of businesses and organizations that need the skills of a graphic designer. Some examples include small businesses needing help with branding, marketing agencies that create ad campaigns or design websites for their clients, in-house design teams at larger companies, publishing houses, etc. And that’s just to name a few!
Generally speaking, we can segment graphic design into these main categories:
Website Design: Creating the look and feel of a website, including the layout, colors, fonts, etc. You might also be responsible for designing web banners, which are small images or animations displayed on websites.
Advertising & Marketing: Creating ad campaigns or marketing materials, such as social media posts, Google ads, flyers, and posters.
Branding: Developing the visual identity for a company or product, which includes creating logos, choosing color schemes, and developing style guides.
Print Design: Creating designs for things like magazines, newspapers, books, packaging, etc.
Illustration Design: Creating illustrations, either by hand or digitally, for things like books, magazines, websites, and video games
Motion Graphics: Creating animated or video content, such as explainer videos, title sequences, commercials, and social media videos.
Learn Graphic Design With CreativeLive
CreativeLive is a top rated resource for learning graphic design. We offer a wide variety of courses taught by top industry professionals. The only way to grow as an artist is to get your hands dirty and start designing; our courses will help you do that.
Some of our most popular graphic design courses include:
Graphic Design Fundamentals
Join Timothy Samara as he teaches you everything you need to know about design theory — the ideas that underpin all great design work. You’ll explore the relationship between form and content, color theory, typography, and more. By the end of this course, you’ll have the design knowledge you need to start your career or take your work to the next level.
Adobe Illustrator Mastery
Already dipped your toe in the world of vector art? Take your Adobe Illustrator skills to the next level with this comprehensive course. You’ll learn how to use all of the program’s powerful tools and apply your newfound knowledge to real-world design projects. Multi-award-winning Daniel Walter Scott helps you navigate Illustrator’s professional interface, so you can start using it like a pro in no time.