Do I really need
to get a graphic design degree?
Many high school students
that are interested in a graphic design career wonder if it is
really necessary to attend a school and get a degree or certificate
in graphic design. Do I really need one if I’m really artistic to begin with? They can be great
at sketching, painting, and so on. Others might have some good
experience working with software such as Photoshop, Illustrator,
Flash, and so on. They think that since they understand software,
and have gone through the tutorials, that they can do this graphic
design thing. You might have a chance if you can piece some of
these things together, and the employer isn’t at all picky. You
might be able to fluke it.
But graphic design isn't just about creativity
and / or mastering various software. It's not just about being artistic or knowing some great tutorials. Graphic design is about visual problem solving,
and meeting the needs of the client. It’s not about making
something look cool, but rather selling a product or an idea
visually in a captivating way. Good graphic design
schools will mold and shape you so you can do just that.
I learn this stuff on my own?
Some people I suppose can do this. If you are
disciplined enough, you can go through all of the design theory,
typography and art history that you need to be able to discern
a good design from a bad. Often though, it can be hard to know
where to prioritize your time and efforts. A good graphic design
program will have this all set out for you.
I can do that
without a graphic design school or program! Is there anything else
Well, a load of potentially strong connections for one. Your classes
would be filled with like-minded people that are interested in
a lot of the same things as you. Most often, schools will have
connections in one way or another with the industry. Some employers
almost always have a partnership with some of these graphic design schools.
You will most likely miss some of the teamwork aspects of things,
which can be really important if you end up at a graphic design
studio. Learning to work along side with others can be really important.
This is most often a part of the graphic design program.
You can ask your educators or classmates questions about anything
you are unsure about. You can get feedback and critiques, learn
and grow a lot faster in a class environment. In a solo environment,
you have no real way to measure how good or bad you are, and if
you are on track or missing the mark.
Most good programs offer a work practicum,
which is a great way to get your feet wet with some experience,
and at the same time, potentially land you a job where you’ve
All good graphic design programs will be geared
towards you building a portfolio of your work to present to employers.
This will represent your best designs that you will use to sell
your talents to an employer.
I can create my
own portfolio. I’ve
seen portfolios before.
Yup. You can create your own portfolio to be sure.
You might be able to fill it with some great work, impress them
with it, and get a job. At the end of the day though, the majority
of employers will not even consider someone without a degree.
but if I’m good enough, that’s
Yes and no. When hiring a graphic designer,
an employer wants to know that you understand the whole process
of graphic design. They want to know if you will be able to work
with other members of the team. They want to know that you understand
design principles, typography, color, the art of selling.
A graphic design degree or certificate from a recognized graphic
design school and a reference from the teacher can give them peace
of mind that the person that they are hiring will most likely have
the foundation to do well and succeed. Hiring someone who has done
all of this on their own is a big risk. They really just have
to take the word of the person being interviewed, and most employers
don’t want to take
a leap of faith like that.
There are some people that have done everything
on their own, fluked it, and have landed a job. But for most people,
attending a school and earning a graphic design degree is the only
way to go. A good graphic design school or program ensures that you are getting
a strong base in what you need to do well as a graphic designer.
It will give you connections, friends who are into the same kind
of things and help direct you and guide you with your portfolio.
It will give you a diploma that gives employers a clear sign that
you have the foundation and knowledge to go and do your job, and
do it well.
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