[ starting out in graphic design ]
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becoming a graphic designer: information, questions and answers
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I need to get a degree in graphic design by online study. Please advise. (UPDATED)
The following offer degree programs in graphic design that you can earn online: The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division and Westwood College. You can receive details about the different programs by filling out the online information request form at each site.
If you plan to work for a design firm, rather than freelance or run your own company, I recommend that you consider also taking a campus course when you are able. The reason I recommend this is because some design firms are more comfortable hiring designers who have had classroom interaction. More on this on page 5.
I was thinking about pursuing a career in graphic design. Do you know of any colleges that offer courses on that particular major?
Here are a few design schools that our in-house design student has researched:
California: San Jose State University, Academy of Art College San Francisco, Pasadena School of the Arts, Platt College San Francisco, Expressions, Masters Institute
Arizona: Art Institute of Phoenix
Illinois: Illinois Institute of Art
Maryland: Maryland College of Art and Design
Minnesota: Minneapolis College of Art and Design (Design Dept.)
Massachusetts: Boston University Student Computer Graphics Group (BUGG)
Maine: Maine College of Art
For other graphic design schools and graphic design training resources, please check our graphic design schools webpage.
I'm doing a design brief in my photography course. Do you have any tips on how to lay out a magazine advertisement?
Try to get the ad to appeal to the senses and/or emotions. You want people to almost feel, smell, and/or taste how good the product is. If you want to convey "soft," maybe soften the photo. Be sure to take into account whether your ad will appear on the right or left page, paying attention to how your ad leads the eye. Look at ads with similar concepts to see what you like and don't like about them. Also, go to one of the major magazine websites and look at their advertising specifications. That will give you an idea of what measurements you should use for bleeds, type area, etc. Our "graphic design news and tips" webpage includes a few helpful graphic design project tips.
What is the difference between Graphic Design and Web Design? Are they the same thing? How are they different? Are they two different majors?
When people talk about Graphic Design, they are usually referring to print design. Designing for the web was actually a form of graphic design, too; but it was graphic design for a completely different medium. Web design has evolved so much. What you learn in graphic design courses don't usually cover the information technology (IT) skills you'll need to design for the web. And web design courses don't usually cover all of the skills you'll need to design for print. So they are two different majors.
Do I need to be good at math to be a graphic designer?
It depends on what area of graphic design you plan to specialize in. But for the average project, advanced math wouldn't be required. You will need to be comfortable enough with percentages, fractions, and conversions to quickly figure out precise measurements on a calculator.
Why do graphic designers choose to use QuarkXPress over PageMaker? Both software programs are great for layout and it would seem that Pagemaker would be the choice of many since most designers already use Photoshop and Illustrator.
Before Adobe bought PageMaker, it wasn't as powerful an application as it is now. At that time, QuarkXPress was the best program around. After Adobe acquired PageMaker, they built in the features that it was lacking. And then they bundled it with the other fine Adobe graphics programs, PhotoShop and Illustrator. (PageMaker has since been replaced in Adobe's Creative Suite bundle for the much-better Adobe InDesign.) Even after Adobe acquired and improved PageMaker, three main reasons that designers continue to use QuarkXPress are:
(1) Back in the early 1990s, many service bureaus didn't accept PM files. Today, service bureaus accept PM files, but some still have imaging problems with PM. This is a very major reason because re-running film is expensive.
(2) Designers had already been using QXP for many years, so they have hundreds or even thousands of files created with QXP. Many of those files are re-used and updated. Why start from scratch? There are QXP plug-ins that allow a designer to convert PM documents into QXP documents (with some tweaking after the conversion). But I don't think there's a way yet to cleanly convert a QXP document into a PM document.
(3) Designers who have been long-time users of QXP are very familiar with it. Since QXP already does everything they need a layout program to do, why spend the time (if you even have the time) to learn a new program?
With that said, designers who switch away from QXP usually prefer Adobe InDesign over both QXP and PM.
Is your job exciting and fulfilling?
My job has variety, and I think variety is exciting. It's rewarding to see the finished product, receive kudos from clients, and know that the pieces I design play a part in my clients' success.
What are some things you dislike about working as a graphic designer? How do they affect your job?
Here is a list of some of the problems I encounter:
- Time is never on my side.
- There are often things learned by trial and error.
- Mistakes can be costly.
- Clients don't budget enough time and money for the designer.
- I am constantly having to learn how to use new or updated software.
These problems can be stressful. You take steps to alleviate the problems, for example, managing your time better, talking to other designers about the mistakes they've made, keeping in touch with clients about upcoming work so you can give them cost and time estimates early on, etc.
Why did you choose the graphic design field? Are you happy with your career choice?
My plan was to be a fine artist, paint one picture a year, and make $100,000 from each painting. I guess some of us have to work a little harder than that. Being a designer comes closest to something creative and rewarding that I could immediately make a living at doing.
How does graphic design affect the media?
I believe that design doesn't affect media; media affects design. Media is targeting certain audiences. Once you have researched and have a grasp of what that audience likes, what things are important to them, etc., then you design for that audience based on your findings.
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FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Please see our FAQ page for answers to general questions asked by our clients and website visitors. Our Graphic Design News and Tips page includes helpful graphic design project tips. Our Graphic Design or Illustration sections also contain useful resources. Also, we list many services and products that may be of interest to students in a section we call the Students Center. For a list of books on a career in graphic design, see our Graphic Design Jobs / Graphic Design Career book page.
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