A career as a graphic designer can be appealing if you’re a creative type that likes to play around with text, images and layouts. However, graphic design involves more than just good software and an artistic flair. Before dedicating your life to graphic design, consider these five truths about how the craft works in the real world.
Hours Are Flexible
Landing a job with a set daily schedule as isn’t as common in graphic design as in other fields. Meeting deadlines can mean working long hours or going back to make last-minute changes to projects that you thought were finished. Many graphic designers pursue careers as freelancers, taking on private clients and working on their own schedules. Freelancers often experience fluctuations in number of jobs that come in. Since stability isn’t guaranteed, you have to be prepared to deal with floods of work followed by slow periods.
Expenses Stack Up
Getting a graphic design degree incurs tuition expenses and all other related costs of college. As a student, you’ll need to buy textbooks and art supplies, and chances are you’ll also have to invest in some kind of design software. Once you get started in the field, you’ll need professional design software that gives you the creative freedom to work on projects for a variety of industries. Building a portfolio, whether online or in physical form, takes an investment of both time and money, but it’s necessary for showcasing your work to prospective employers or clients.
Business Knowledge is a Must
If you take the freelance route, you have to know how to market yourself and stand out from the crowd to get clients. Knowledge of how to run a business is also essential. You have to track your own expenses, time spent on projects and other financial details to ensure a stable income. If you work for a creative agency, an understanding of the trends in advertising makes your work more relevant to the current market.
Client Needs Come First
Many people approach graphic design with the idea that they’ll be able to exercise their creativity without boundaries. Although it is a creative discipline, the amount of artistic license you’ll be able to take with each job is entirely dictated by the needs of your clients. Some designs, such as those for large corporations, will be more austere than others and offer little room for stylistic flair. Clients may sometimes make requests that you don’t agree with, and you’ll have to comply with them unless the request has an obvious negative impact on the design.
Skill Building Takes Time
Even after getting your graphic design degree and working with your first few clients, you’ll still only know the basics of what can be done with your newfound skill set. The more jobs you take on, the more tricks you’ll learn to make you a better designer. You’ll become more familiar with the process and how the software you’re using can be leveraged to speed the design process without sacrificing quality. Staying on top of industry trends keeps your work fresh and ensures that you’re always ready to deliver exactly what clients are looking for.
If you’re passionate about graphic design, dedicated to working hard and can handle deadlines, this could be a rewarding career for you. Make sure that you’re willing to spend the time necessary to get a good education and continue improving your techniques to become a seasoned professional that people can trust to produce the best possible designs.