There are many graphic arts schools and colleges offering a range of degrees and certificates. What can you expect to gain besides a piece of paper at the end of these courses?
What to Expect
Much of your time will be spent in front of a computer in a computer lab. Some graphic design schools will have a MAC lab, some a Windows lab, and some might have a mix of both. You will most likely be learning how to use cutting edge software from companies such as Adobe and Macromedia. Some programs you will might become familiar with are Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, as well as Freehand, Flash, and Dreamweaver. If there is a 3D component in your graphic design program, you might work with Maya or 3D Studio MAX. Learning how to prepare files for print or other output will be covered, as well as how to organize your work.
Graphic design really isn't just all about computers and software though. You can have the best graphics software in the world with thousands of dollars of equipment at your finger tips, and still produce a horrible design. If you are in a good design program, you will learn key graphic design theory and principles. It's not just enough for a graphic to look cool. Does it work, or does it not work visually? Is it communicating what needs to be communicated? Does it reach it's target audience? Why does it work? These are essential questions that a graphic designer must ask day in and day out.
More than Just Technology
It's also considered standard in some programs to have an art history class or two. Looking at where we came from visually can help us see where we are now and where we are going to go. There might also be some classes where you will be sketching, painting, and using other natural media. Although it's not totally essential to be a natural sketcher or painter, it sure can come in handy when you need to quickly flesh out ideas early on in the design stage. So you might want to practice up on this before you start up at one of these graphic design schools or programs.
A key element to any graphic design related degree is portfolio development and creation. This is what is going to sell you and your services to the industry. So it's quite common to have a large slot of time dedicated to portfolio creation. One of the main purposes of these graphic design schools is to have a portfolio prepared by each student that can showcase their creative skills and talents the best way possible.
When you have reached the end of your degree or certificate program, you should be walking away with a strong understanding of key graphic design principles, and feel comfortable with the software and hardware tools needed to effectively reach your target audience.
Do you want to work in a creative environment, and using your problem solving skills? If so, check out schools in your area to get started.
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