What is Graphic Design?
Graphic design basically is visual problem solving using text and/or graphical elements. Your aim is to create something that is pleasing to the eye, and gets the attention of the viewer. But things can't just look cool. They have to work as well.
How effective is a great looking restaurant menu if you can't for the life of you find beverages, or it's hard to tell which price is for what? ; )
About.com defines graphic design in this way:
"Graphic design is the process and art of combining text and graphics and communicating an effective message in the design of logos, graphics, brochures, newsletters, posters, signs, and any other type of visual communication. Today's graphic designers often use desktop publishing software and techniques to achieve their goals."
Dictionary.com says this:
"The practice or profession of designing print or electronic forms of visual information, as for an advertisement, publication, or website."
The Scope of this Industry...
So what do graphic designers actually do? I'm sure most people can name at least a few things, but the graphic design spectrum is perhaps broader than you think.
Designs can include: brochures, posters, magazine covers, magazine layouts, tickets, business cards, T-shirts, signs, logos, book layout (typesetting), importing advertisements into a newspaper, websites, cd covers, dvd interactivity elements, Internet banners, flash animation, web interfaces, iPad app interfaces, Powerpoint presentations, and more.
So what can YOU expect?
Some employers will have a very specific and narrow job description, and some will want you to do a whole load of stuff. Often an in-house graphic designer (meaning a non design company will hire someone to do their graphic design rather than work with a company) will be the jack of all trades. You might expect to create the website, brochures, a poster for an upcoming event, and prepare powerpoint presentations. And then there is the other end of the spectrum where your entry level job for the first 2 years is scanning photos for Auto Trader Magazine, and placing them into the layout. It all depends on who is hiring, and what they want.
Where Can I Go From Here?
There are quite a few options these days. One of the best ways though is through reading. One book you might want to consider is:
Also contact local colleges and trade schools about careers in graphic design. Request information regarding their courses/degree programs, and you start getting a better idea of what graphic design is all about. You can check out some graphic design schools and colleges across North America that offer graphic design related degrees and programs.
If you know anyone that is in the graphic design field, try and get them to take you along to observe for a day. This can give you a good idea of what to expect.
Go For It... : )
Graphic design is a very exciting career to enter into. You'll often be working with cutting edge technology, using your creativity, and having fun doing it. If you pay attention to detail, are patient, creative, and like solving problems, then you are well on your way. What is graphic design? It's a creative career that finally rewards you for all of those doodles you'd make during class.