Bottoms up: the best way to get into graphic design

Put the wine glass down! That’s not what I mean!
When you’re just starting out in the design world it can be a scary and unpredictable place. You don’t know what to do, where to turn or how to get anywhere.

Now, i’m not going to claim I know everything there is to know about graphics, especially seeing as I’ve not been doing it long myself! Job hunting in today’s environment can make an already difficult job seem pretty much impossible!
Here are a few tips from my own experience to help you out:

  1. Don’t underestimate the value of work experience!
    At my uni there was never much emphasis on getting work experience, it was creativity that would get us the job. So when I left university with little experience and a folio bursting with creativity I struggled to find anyone willing to take me on because what they really wanted to see was real-life, commercial experience. Creativity is important, but the ability to harness it in the commercial world is your selling point.
  2. Get yourself tooled up
    Most universities now teach you a good range of software skills in things like Adobe Creative Suite, which is widely considered the industry standard. BUT don’t overlook other software!! Even though Quark Xpress is considered outdated, the people who are looking to hire you will still be looking for you to have experience with it! Try some online tutorials to give you an idea.
  3. Portfolio, website and brand
    If you’re trying to sell yourself and your work, you need to show what you can do! Don’t be afraid to be creative with your portfolio, get yourself online and give yourself an identity that’ll make you stand out from the crowd.
    Sample printed portfolio
  4. Internships
    It’s the catch 22 of being a designer. Can’t get a job without experience, can’t get experience without a job. What are you supposed to do??
    If you’re in a position to, i’d strongly consider an internship. It’s great for that commercial experience you need, brilliant for your portfolio, and it can sometimes even lead you into a full time job! I did this from an internship I found on Gumtree, and although it meant working for little pay for a year or so it gave me everything I needed to land my first real design job. Have a look at Inspiring interns or Design Jobs Board to find out more.
  5. Job hunting!
    So, you’ve got your experience, portfolio, and CV all updated and looking good! When you’re ready to start the proper job hunt where do you go? Here are some of the sites i’ve found most helpful in the process:

So my theory? If you’re really determined to make it as a Graphic Designer, you’ve got to work from the bottom up. It’s hard work, but when you get there it’ll all be worthwhile! I hope this proves useful for you, feel free to ask me any questions, or let me know if these have helped you out!


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