Do you want to work as a graphic designer? That used to require three years at university, followed by a move to a big city and an internship at a design firm. All of this would involve a great deal of disruption, long commutes, and an enormous price tag.
However, in the twenty-first century, everything has changed. People are studying and working remotely in increasing numbers, and Shillington, a global leader in providing short and focused design courses, is at the forefront of this shift in mindset.
Shillington promptly and efficiently switched its services when the world turned upside-down in 2020, allowing students to study online from anywhere in the world. Although it may have seemed intimidating at the time, Shillington's 2021 and 2021 graduates are now pursuing successful careers in the industry. Because, in today's world, it's entirely possible to learn and work as a designer from anywhere. It turns out that the new normal has some surprising advantages.
But how can you go about becoming a professional graphic designer from the comfort of your own home?
1. Start with the basics.
People who don't work in graphic design frequently believe that it's simply a matter of learning how to use specific software — you'll hear things like, "Sharon can make the brochure since she knows Photoshop."
But understanding graphic design isn't about "knowing Photoshop," any more than knowing how to use the video camera on your phone qualifies you as a professional film director. It's more about understanding the history of graphic design, the fundamentals of graphic design theory, and the abilities that underpin your art, such as picking a color palette, typefaces, and grids, among other things.
Studying graphic design, on the other hand, is not about passively absorbing information. It all boils down to putting it into action. As a result, you'll need to work on your own designs and develop your ability to meet professional design briefs while studying.
2. Gather everything you'll require
Equipment & Tools
Bonnie Eichelberger, a Shillington Melbourne teacher, believes that most creatives will gain from the following. "If you're working with a laptop and a display, or if you simply have a laptop, a good display. A Wacom tablet or an iPad with an Apple Pencil is required. And a printer; it's extremely convenient to be able to print your own work at home to double-check the sizing."
Rachel Broaders, a Shillington Online teacher, shares a few of her own must-haves. "This is a fantastic chair. For music, I use Spotify. Loads and lots of hard discs. And, because I'm a real grandmother, I still believe things are only real when they're written down or posted to me, I use a good ol' day-planner diary thing for organization."
A decent bookcase is essential in any work-from-home environment. It helps you look excellent on Zoom calls at the most basic level. The best design books, on the other hand, may supply you with ideas, inspiration, and a good way to unwind during a hectic day. If you're looking for new books to round out your library, Rachel has a few suggestions.
"Josef Albers' Interaction of Color is a classic teaching tool and reference text that discusses color theory," she explains. "Amber Weaver's Femme Type honors over 40 accomplished women from around the world who work in the type industry. And From Eastern Europe is a compilation of work from some of the region's most brilliant designers, firms, and illustrators, published by Counter-Print."
Rachel also suggests Pantone Swatch Books for color inspiration and Aimee Hartley's Breathe Well, which describes breathing techniques you may do throughout the day to improve your health and happiness.
Apps that are useful
It's worth thinking about the apps that can save you time, work, and tension in addition to your physical gear. "I find it very beneficial for collaborating remotely on projects," Rachel recommends Miro, an online whiteboard tool.
Meanwhile, Lovish Saini, a Shillington Manchester teacher, says: "Google Tasks / Notes is excellent for keeping track of tasks and creating checklists. It may also be accessed via Gmail, making it twice as useful. In addition, I enjoy utilizing the Forest App to keep track of my time. It helps me stay focused on the vital tasks and avoid procrastination."
3. Become familiar with the software.
However, the software isn't everything when it comes to becoming a graphic designer. Even so, you'll require some. So, which item should you purchase?
Adobe's well-known tools Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are still the industry's gold standard and go-to. In general, Photoshop is used to edit raster pictures like photos, Illustrator is used to editing vector images like graphics and icons, and InDesign is used to design print and digital layouts. But they all have more capabilities, and they're increasingly being utilized together in a single process.
Given their importance in the business, it's no surprise that they're also the most expensive, needing a Creative Cloud subscription. Other specialized creative software, such as After Effects for motion graphics and Premiere Pro for video editing, is included as well, but it is somewhat costly. However, if you're a full-time or part-time student enrolled in a recognized course, you'll be eligible for a substantial discount (over 65 percent at the time of writing).
There are, however, less expensive options if you haven't started a course yet. The Affinity suite, which includes Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Publisher, is a close match for Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, and is accessible for a one-time, modest cost. These tools are becoming more popular among professionals, and they can help you improve your work. Furthermore, free tools are available if you don't want to spend anything at all. When you're starting to study graphic design, Canva, Figma, and Gravit Designer are all terrific places to start.
You'll also need to learn how to use remote working software. Most of us are familiar with videoconferencing applications like Zoom, but it's also worth learning Slack, as it's the primary means through which many design agencies connect with one another on a daily basis these days.
4. Put together a portfolio
You'll be confident enough to apply for jobs or seek freelance clients if you've spent some time studying graphic design and improving your talents. To do so, you'll need to construct a portfolio that demonstrates your abilities.
Portfolios used to be huge, paper-based volumes that you carried around with you from one interview to the next. They're usually digital these days, and they're either a PDF or a website that allows people to see your greatest work in a short and easy-to-digest format (since employers and clients don't have a lot of time to spend on this).
Of course, there's a bit of a chicken-and-egg dilemma here when you're initially starting off. You'll need a portfolio to acquire paid job or even an unpaid internship. But what do you put in your portfolio till you have paid work?
You'll have student projects to include if you've taken a course. If you're self-teaching, another option is to work on a fictitious brief, exactly as if you were working for a real customer. It's important presenting your portfolio online, on a platform like Behance, and with anyone, you know who works in the business to seek input before submitting it. Others will typically have perspectives you haven't considered, no matter how good you believe it is. Doing free graphic design work for friends or charities is another option for building a portfolio.
Check back here to learn more about freelance work and how to protect yourself against fraud.