6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Pursuing a Career in Graphic Design

February 24, 2021

Ever since high school, I started to realize that graphic design was the career for me. I knew that I wanted to do what I love, and get paid for it. Not only had I taken art classes at Art Center Saturday High every weekend, I also had experience in my high school’s journalism class as the Graphic Designer and Visuals Editor.

In college, I had some doubts that maybe I wasn’t going down the right path. Eventually I realized that while I probably will never have everything figured out, I’m still able to design in a way that will allow me to do what I like and have a lasting impact on others.

Here are some lessons I learned throughout my past few years as a student pursuing a career in graphic design.

1. There are many different types of graphic design.

Becoming a graphic designer isn’t a one-way street for the rest of your career. A graphic designer can also mean illustrator, animator, UX designer, package designer and more. There are a variety of paths within graphic design that offer versatility and opportunity in many different roles.

2. Design and art are not the same.

I tend to use art and design interchangeably; however, I’ve come to realize that design is not art. Design is all about having a concept and building towards that concept. Artists tend to create work through instinct and self-expression, while designers are problem solvers and are constantly thinking about the user.

3. Design is everywhere.

Paul Rand wrote, “Everything is design.” All the products around us, even the buildings, had to be designed by someone. Every business needs a logo, and different variety of brands all need designs. You don’t have to give up your passion to pursue graphic design. Pursue your passion with graphic design.

4. Keep it simple—have faith in the process.

Not all design is about having an elaborate, complicated end product. Design is all about the concept and the process in getting to your solution. Sometimes it’s all about experimentation, iterations and challenges. As long as you have the confidence to sell your idea, a simple design can go a long way.

5. The creative process in reality is very collaborative.

In school, I always thought design to be a very independent role. We rarely did group projects, and a lot of the ideation, from start to finish, was created on our own. Nevertheless, I came to realize that design can be a very collaborative process. In advertising and public relations, you have the opportunity to work with other copywriters and strategists. In UX design, you get to work closely with UX researchers, project managers and developers. In motion graphics, you may even get to work with videographers and musicians. Depending on the path you choose, being able to collaborate well with others plays a huge role when entering into the industry.

6. You can’t learn everything in college.

The industry is constantly changing, and new design trends are always emerging. With design it’s all about experimentation and gathering inspiration from both your surroundings and the people around you.

Throughout the past few years I’ve learned a lot of lessons about design; however, I am still just a college student figuring things out. I plan to constantly challenge myself as a designer and continue to learn without regrets.

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