How To Break Into The Graphic Design Industry

The graphic design industry has been the lifeline of advertising for decades. Combined with great lines, any piece of graphic design work is enough to create an impact in a company, light up a nation, or build an irreplaceable online presence. So, what is it about the graphic design industry that makes it so fascinating, and how does an aspiring artist make it in this very visual, very colourful world? In this article, we will look at ways you can join the graphic design industry, some of the most inspiring parts of it, and how you can survive in this competitive yet welcoming industry.

So, What’s The Deal With Design?

The dictionary meaning for “graphic design” is “the art or profession of visual communication that combines images, words, and ideas to convey information to an audience, especially to produce a specific effect.” You might already know this definition but need a deeper understanding of this career in order to decide whether or not it is worth pursuing. Well, with graphic design, you have a range of options regarding working duration, workload, and more. It is a career that many are currently pursuing as it is very visual and creative. It gives creators the opportunity to express important and meaningful messages. For example, in 2013, the ANAR Foundation (a non-profit institution in Peru dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of children and adolescents), together with various organisations, created an awareness poster that shows different messages to adults and children using specialised printing. This billboard was created to give abused children a safe space to report the crimes done to them without alerting their adult abusers, who they often live with or encounter at their school. This kind of work portrays what a graphic designer can achieve with the right set of skills, drive and passion for the career.

Graphic Design Spreads Far And Wide

Another reason you should consider a career in graphic design is that you may work on local and international brands. The perk about joining this industry is that you are able to do your job from literally anywhere if you have the right equipment and network signal. Many designers have collaborated with clients and other creatives who are not in the same province, state or country to create beautiful work. There are a few award ceremonies and organisations such as The Loeries, Pendoring or Bookmark awards that recognise these designers (and other people in advertising) and their work regardless of their location. The community is large, so you stand a better chance of meeting like-minded and interesting people from all over the world when you are in the graphic design industry and following such initiatives.

How To Get In, Fit In, And Stay In

The graphic design industry belongs to the general marketing and advertising world, which makes it highly competitive. This means that a graphic designer (or art director, as they are now popularly known) has to be a rare cut above the rest and bring the sort of dedication, professionalism and drive that most of the businesses they will be working in have. Luckily, a graphic design online course can help. With graphic design, you have to learn as you go and continuously upskill. This means that you need to start building a professional network if you haven’t already. Find people who are in the same field as you or are interested in the graphic design industry as they will expose you to different ways and inspiration for your craft. The beautiful thing about graphic design is that it is a collaborative career that allows you to create and curate work. So, start small. Help NGOs with their flyers and announcements and follow other graphic designers who share the same views as you so that you can all align in creating the work you know you are capable of.

Be Online, And Reach EVERYONE

One of the most exciting things about social media is that it affords us the opportunity to interact with our loved ones from any location. That has also helped us reach our heroes and role models, and that brings us to our next tip on how to break into this industry: contact your heroes. Try to contact some of the people who have inspired you to get into this industry and ask for mentorship, a meeting or some tips and tricks to survive in this industry.

Thanks to the ever-evolving digital world, you are able to reach your heroes easily; however, you also need to consider creating an online presence yourself. It is a great way for you to showcase your work and passion for design to potential clients and collaborators. Nokubulela Tilly Ntoshe, a Graphic Designer/Art Director currently working in an advertising agency and who has been freelancing on the side for over three years, says that her online presence has been what has kept her freelance gig going. “My clients know they can Google or social media search me any time they need any designs because I am easy to find on social media. I usually use the same names so that I’m easy to find”. Ensure you keep a consistent online image so that potential and current clients can easily recognise you.

Finally, See For Yourself

There are many industries you can join with a graphic design qualification together with the right set of skills. You can choose to be in a corporate or creative environment and set your own deadlines when going the freelance route. So, familiarise yourself with all the options that are available to you and choose the one best suited to you.

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