Graphic Design as a Career
We are all familiar with the fine artist and the cliché "starving artist." That no longer holds true. Today, the profession offers more opportunities than ever before.
The public is surrounded daily by art without realizing it: new products, signage, print material and, of course, TV, movies, video games - the list goes on and on. Along with this visual blitz there is a need, in the industry, for well-trained graphic designers to perform the various functions and to bring it all to fruition.
New products are constantly brought to the market, and the need to design packaging that will attract the consumer is a constant challenge. Then, there is the need to support that new product with ads, direct mail, billboards, and TV commercials so that the consumer is familiar with the look and the benefits the product offers.
In the entertainment business, artists have the opportunity to design video games, CDs, movie credits, special effects, and all the support material posters and displays.
As you look around, notice the designs evident in nature and how those are transformed, by the artist/designer, and introduced into his or her work. This is especially true in the cosmetic industry where nature designs dominate.
You can expect salaries to relate to talent and dedication. Entry level wages may begin low but will accelerate as the artist/designer has proven his or her skill and is productive. Usually, the entry-level artist can expect from $25,000 to $40,000 annually. Surprisingly, the larger and more famous studios, agencies, and companies will often offer the lower salary. They know that having their name on a resume is a plus, and they feel it is a privilege for you to work for them, which in many ways is true. However, lesser known or smaller firms may offer an artist/designer more variety. There is something to be said for working with a "start up" company where you have the ability to grow together.
The opportunities are endless and the range is wide and diversified. For example, they include: corporate designer, fashion artist, package designer, air brush artist, cartoonist, computer animator, video producer, creative director for a Fortune 500 firm, wild-life artist, sports illustrator, needle art designer, working in healthcare, artist for a printing company, pre-press, museum artist, furniture design, designer for a paper company, medical illustrator, calligraphy, technical illustrator, jewelry designer, artist for music company, sign or mural painter, owning your own business, story-board artist, creator of special effects, multi-media director, movie industry, video game designer, web page designer, art director at a TV station, sculpture artist for toys, set designer for theme parks, fabric/textile designer, children's book illustrator, specialty gift designer, greeting card illustrator, creating TV commercials, novelty advertising, display artist, ad agencies, t-shirt/tie designer, toy designer, newspaper layout artist, illustrator for paper backs, comic book artist, creator of funky magazine, or art director in a publishing house. And there are, of course, many more.
Don't ever think that art is an easy career. Today's employer looks for the person who is able to think as well as draw. An employee who is dedicated, responsible, punctual, and talented is a rare gem.
Work ethic all begins during one's education. It is impossible to expect anyone to be creative 100% of the time, but there are methods taught that assist a person in that process of thinking creatively. The students who make good use of their time, have excellent attendance (which ultimately is reflected in their work) and give that extra effort, will be rewarded many times over during their career. It is a career where "what you put in is what you get out" and begins with a passion in your "gut". One of my students expressed it very well... "Art to me is like breathing. I just need it."
Questions You Might Consider:
How does one go about getting an education in graphic design?
The best course of action is to attend an accredited two-year graphic design college, that focuses on the practical side. The curriculum should be 93% art related and 7% general education courses that tie into the field such as: creative writing, marketing, small group communication and English composition, to name a few. They are courses that will lead to a more well-rounded individual and may result in higher management positions later. After two tears of study, you will receive an Associate Degree and then go on to pursue a career. The four-year college or university offers a Bachelor Degree where 45% of the curriculum is devoted to general education courses and the other 55% to art. Both offer interesting options. If you're itching for that BA Degree, complete the two-year school, get a jump start on your career and work in the field - then continue your education to earn a BA Degree in the evening or weekends; or begin with a four-year college where the fifth year is a co-op, and you are given the opportunity to work in the related field. Begin your career after graduation.
Do all credits transfer?
Not always, and there is never a guarantee. That decision is left to the discretion of each individual school and to the quality of the student's work.
Regardless of your decision, if you are talented and art is your passion, you will find a wealth of opportunity in the business of graphic design. You will also find a satisfaction that few occupations offer. Perhaps it is because you give so much of yourself to others.