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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Leicester / Derby
    Posts
    2

    Smile Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    Hi! I'm Anna, and I've just joined the forum today. I am currently in my second year at university studying Graphic Design, and just was wondering if someone experienced / professional could tell me a little bit about their experience, so about how you got into the field - did you also study at university or went for an internship or something along those lines instead? When getting your first job, did you get it through contacts you've made and people you knew, or did you apply through a job site and had an interview? What was your first job like, and what do you currently do? I'm just really interested about people's experiences and how they got to where they are today, and what kind of things to expect in general.

    Thank you for your time and any replies short or detailed are very much appreciated

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Placitas, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    37,271

    Default Re: Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    Welcome to TalkGraphics Anna

    I graduated in 1967 from Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles (now in Pasadena, a suburb of Los Angeles) in 1967 with a major in advertising design. I worked for 15 years as an advertising art director and then had my own graphic design company in San Francisco for 12 years.

    Art Center back then was jokingly referred to as an "art factory" as the primary focus was on a professional education taught by people who actually worked in the industry. It was intense training and only one in 15 students who started graduated.

    The excellent reputation of the school was such that I had two job offers before I graduated.

    On the other hand, when I met my wife after I had been in the business for about 4 years, she asked how she could get into advertising. I said to go through magazines, find ads that were not very good and make them better. She did this and after a month or so had put together a student portfolio of ads she had rewritten with head lines, copy, and rough layouts. I sent her to a few people I knew and she got hired as a junior copywriter in a major national ad agency in Los Angeles. She also worked in the business for about 10 years and then we formed our design company together.

    I was hired to work on Datsun (today Nissan) right after I finished my military service and I worked on that account at a smallish ad agency that had grown with the account. It was so much fun to not only get paid for doing what I really loved doing, but also not to have to stay up every night until one or two in the morning doing homework for the next days classes.

    My advice is always do more than is expected or asked for in the assignment. If your instructor says do 3 designs do 12 designs. More is always better because it gives you more to chose from when you turn in your assignment. Learn from what the best people in the industry are doing and try to match their creativity and design excellence.
    Gary W. Priester
    Mr. Moderator Emeritus Dude
    , Sir

    gwpriester.com | Custom-Stereograms.com | eyeTricks on Facebook






  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Leicester / Derby
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    That's great advice thank you so much, thanks for the reply also, it's really interesting to hear from someone who has clearly worked in the industry for years

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Placitas, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    37,271

    Default Re: Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    Years, yes.
    Gary W. Priester
    Mr. Moderator Emeritus Dude
    , Sir

    gwpriester.com | Custom-Stereograms.com | eyeTricks on Facebook






  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    StPeters, MO USA
    Posts
    9,412

    Default Re: Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    I went to a commercial art school in Salina, KS and got my first job at a printing plant as a designer in Topeka KS. How I got that was I went into a employment agency and from there got an interview and was hired. I didn't think I was cut out for that though, a friend of mine was working at an Architectural Delineation firm in KC, , so I had an interview with them and my portfolio landed me the job, which it turned out suited me to a T. Since then I worked at many Delineation studios, KC, Dallas TX where I became second in command, Tulsa OK where I ran an branch office for the company In Dallas, then freelanced for awhile, (but I had more money going out than coming in), then a head hunter at Hospital Building and Equipment started calling me so I checked that out and worked for HBE for several years, I was sort of my own department, worked closely with the Architects and Interior Designers, had one or two people working for me for me who I taught how to draw the perspectives so I could concentrate on painting. That is why I call myself a painter and not an artist because in my mind that is what I was and am. I had to retire because of some nasty health issues. After that I took oil painting lessons to fulfill a dream. Now I am getting old, my eyes are failing and I came up with yet another problem which I am still grappling with. I know I probably didn't answer your question but I wish you lots of luck. Whatever route you take the journey is worth it. Some of the other guys here are designers some worked for ad agencies so they could answer your question much better than I. In fact some probably already have in the time it has taken me to write this ditty.
    Larry a.k.a wizard509

    Never give up. You will never fail, but you may find a lot of ways that don't work.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    StPeters, MO USA
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    9,412

    Default Re: Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    Yep I was right, I knew it took me too long to compose my short ditty.
    Larry a.k.a wizard509

    Never give up. You will never fail, but you may find a lot of ways that don't work.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    558

    Default Re: Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    Somewhat different story that won't help you but may give a different perspective.

    I trained in heavy engineering, think oil wells and commercial water valves. Good money, but not what I wanted.
    I've always played around with music editing (DJ type) and took a year off to DJ around Europe. Loved it, but not exactly a career for life job.
    Met my wife which changed my view of the World. We are both dreamers who enjoy life and like to help others. We moved to Australia, because why not. Here I am back in heavy engineering earning money but just being robotic.

    Twins arrived on the scene. I missed their first 2 years and decided that money will never be more important living a life you're happy with. Began learning computer stuff and found I could make sense of Windows 98. Started repairing as a side line from home. This was my turning point. I could work from home and be with my family.

    Took a dip in money, but was far happier. Looked for other income streams and fell back to mixing/editing music. Sold mix tracks to local gyms along with computer repair. Also made small money selling mix tracks for house parties, which lead to buying party lights and hiring those out as well as the music tracks. Twins now 12 and my youngest 8. Youngest is diagnosed with a variety of mental health issues and simply can't handle school or being around people in general. (another story, but my work choice made me the happiest man on the planet because I can be there to help her whenever she needs me).

    Twins now 23, youngest 19. I still do computer repair, which is my main income stream, create a web presence (nothing flash or corporate) for small businesses and one-man-band tradies around the local area. Still do party hire and have a small repeat trade in music for gyms. Rolling in money? No. Happy as a pig in poop? Yes. I feel I am helping others, be it with adding a smile through music, or giving a battler a leg up the ladder without trying to grab their last dollar. And most of all, I have had the extreme pleasure of walking hand in hand my wife watching my kids grow into who they are.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Bracknell, UK
    Posts
    8,083

    Default Re: Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    Anna,

    I'm not a graphic designer, though I've worked with several of them and have done work that would in other circumstances have been done by a graphic designer.

    You've heard some interesting stories and there are some very capable people here.

    I would say that generally the world and career progressions that you have heard about have changed drastically. The graphic design "world" is split across several media areas - print, online, apps and animation.

    Print newspapers and magazines used to be THE domain for advertisers but now online media is taking up a huge chunk of that business. In my mind a versatile graphic designer should understand something about motion graphics and user experience as well as static images. Understanding the problems of animation, app design compared to the generation of static imagery is going to be vital.

    Most people here are from a very different generation to your own - me included - and the people you can get the best advice from are just a few years ahead of you.

    I found my first job by ringing up a company and asking if I could visit them to see what they do - I explained I was a student. They were very welcoming, I liked what they did and they gave me a job offer before I graduated (subject to graduation).

    Find out some design agencies near you. You can call them up, or just walk into reception. Tell them you're looking for some understanding of the work they do and what skills are important to them. It's easy.

    At worst people will say no. At best people will show you around and even give you some things to do. Even if you don't get paid, if you do some work for a design agency before you graduate, you have your first reference lined up. You'll have some experience of a professional environment (LOL, I'm not even sure what that means in some companies I worked for). Be prepared to meet some interesting people. If you don't like the vibe, try another agency. I have loved most design agencies, but some can feel like sweatshops.

    If you can, go to design exhibitions, conferences, etc. See what people are doing.

    Don't be shy, be outgoing and understand nobody expects perfection from university students.

    Good luck.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Lam, Bavaria-Germany
    Posts
    422

    Default Re: Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    Hello, Anna,
    I trained as a typesetter, letter- and offset printer in 1970. After passing the exam, I studied graphics at the University of Applied Sciences in Germany.
    After my studies I worked for 14 years as a technical director in a large printing company.

    After that I became self-employed and graduated as an industrial master printer.
    Until 2002 I ran my own print house which I had to give up due to illness.

    Since 2008 I have been working independently again from my home office as a typesetter, printing consultant and graphik designer for various publishing houses, print shops and private customers.

    I get new customers mostly by recommendations and if need, by acquisition.

    Even if the job as a graphic designer is not always easy, it is the only thing I can do successfully after my illness. Besides, it's, at least for me, fun and fulfilling.

    Since 2000 I have been working with Xara.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Bracknell, UK
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    8,083

    Default Re: Aspiring graphic designer looking for tips and advice :)

    Quote Originally Posted by ernie-f View Post
    Since 2000 I have been working with Xara.
    Anna, Ernie like the rest of us have all used Xara, sometimes in conjunction with other graphic design tools, sometimes replaced by other design tools.

    In my times working at design houses ( handling print and online work ), I only ever saw people use the Adobe Suite of software.

    When I came across Xara software it stunned me and I have had many happy years using it as a low-cost, highly capable graphics package.

    As a design student my advice to you is to become proficient in Adobe software and also look to the Affinity series of software which is rapidly evolving as a capable alternative to the Adobe suite. I suspect that if you walk into a professional design studio today, everyone will be using Adobe software. If you mention Affinity, many design houses will probably know of it, some may even use it. Sadly, if you mention Xara nobody will know of it and it will hurt your reputation should you champion it.

    At your stage of your career, do not adopt Xara software as your graphic design tool of choice.

 

 

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