"Can I Become A Graphic Designer Without A Degree?" — We've Answered This For You

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Going to a reputable design school will help you become a talented and qualified professional. However, it is not possible for everyone to attend these schools due to the cost and other factors attached to it. Fortunately, even without a degree or formal education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a successful designer as long as you are determined and passionate about it.

Is design school important or not?

There is a continuing debate in the design industry on how important it is to attend a design school. Some people think that design school is overhyped. They believe the most important thing about design is creativity, which is built into a person, develops over time and can’t be learned by reading textbooks.

Conversely, without having knowledge of the fundamentals of design, your creativity will be somewhat limited. No matter how exceptional your ideas are, you must make them look professional especially if you are keen on having an excellent career. This is where design education comes into play. It teaches you the fundamentals of the theory and tools you will need in your desired niche.

The Drawbacks of Design School

The disadvantages of a design school revolve around the high cost of enrolling in one, and the duration of time (at least 4 years) you will spend in the school. Not everybody can afford it. Some kids are destined to be a designer but lack the financial resources needed to attend. So how can they achieve their dreams? Here are important steps to kick-start your career in designing without a degree.

Building Your Foundation

Just because you have a brush does not automatically make you an artist. There are some basics you need to know to be successful. If you want to develop a career in design, you must know the fundamentals.

  • Learn how to draw. This is the first step you need to take on your journey. You don’t have to enroll in any art class to achieve this. Books like You Can Draw in 30 Days will help you greatly. Spend about half an hour every day for one month. Once this gets achieved, jump to the next stage.

  • Learn the theory of graphic design. A highly recommended book at this stage is Picture This. It presents to you the fundamentals of color, typography, and design.

  • Next is to equip yourself with some fundamentals in user experience. I highly recommend books like The Design of Everyday Things and Don't Make Me Think which can help you immensely.

  • Text has an important role to play in design, so learning how to write should be part of it. From your graphics and text, the audience should get the whole package through their emotions. Visit Voice and Tone website to get great insights on how to communicate with your audience.

  • Lastly, don’t hesitate to kill a project. It is a reality most newbies in the design industry are guilty of. When a design is not working for you, erase it and start afresh. Don’t waste your skills trying to tweak something that is not what it is. Just get rid of it and create something new.

These steps sum up what gets needed in the foundation stage of your training. Once this has been taken care of, you can now move on to more complex things.

Getting Used to Software

As a designer, there is no way you can do without computer programs. Even if you try the archaic way by designing with hands, you always need digital help. Therefore, you must be ready to work digitally.

  • Adobe Illustrator. There is no need to rush into Photoshop immediately. It’s better to go through Illustrator first. There are tons of textbooks and video tutorials online that will help you sharpen your skills. Everything you need to know is available on Adobe Illustrator Classroom in a Book.

  • Adobe Photoshop. Now, you can delve into Photoshop. There are a bunch of tutorials online that have all the great tips needed to master Photoshop.

Apart from these two programs, there are many others available. You can expand your scope as the need arises, but these two are the most popular.

Finding Your Specific Niche

Design is so broad and may require forever to master all that it entails. As a professional designer, you need to carve out the niche you want mastery over. You must choose one clear path to follow, and develop your skills in it.

  • Logo Design. This is a nice area to jump into if you like creating logos for different brands. You must be making a terrible mistake if you thought logo design is just about the logo itself. You have to deal with the entire brand, meaning you’d have to envisage the logo on a piece of stationery, on a door, on a wall, and everything else that it has to do with.

  • Mobile App Design. This aspect is a hot cake in the market, but you must be ready to fight your way through because the competition is fierce. If you wish to focus on this niche, one highly recommended book is Tapworthy.

  • Hand Lettering. There is a great demand for hand lettering right now, as many people enjoy hand-crafted and personalized designs. This is because it brings a human touch to design. Courses that cover this area is available on YouTube, Lynda.com, Skillshare.com, and Seanwes.com.

  • Web Design. Unarguably, web design is at the forefront when choosing a specialization. Reading The Principles of Beautiful Web Design will help you know all the basics of web design. You can also visit various websites to check out their designs and find the one that thrills you most.

From this stage, it is quite easy to begin creating your portfolio. You can pitch your idea or look for friends who may be in need of your services. It will be challenging to get your first clients in the beginning, but once you do a good first job, everything else will follow.

Kick-Start Your New Career Immediately

Before you hit the road running with this information, it’s crucial to take note of these bullet points.

  • Don’t stop creating. For you to have mastery over anything, you must do it over and over again. Keep yourself busy by creating, learning, and educating yourself on new things. Find tutorials, try something different, and work on huge tasks. This is the easiest way to gain experience - without experience nobody will be interested in hiring you.

  • Be exceptional. Stand out from the crowd by doing exceptional things. Look for a niche and try a unique concept that will make you highly sought after. Do things that have never been done before, and spread them through social media platforms. No matter how populated a niche may be, if you do something that’s unique you should be at the top.

  • Learn the business principles of design. You must learn how to write an eye-catching proposal, how to negotiate with clients, how to manage your time, and how to send an invoice to clients professionally.

From this write-up, it is possible that one can be a successful designer without having a degree. All that is needed is your creative skills, passion, determination, and above all the desire to get important materials that contain the information needed to keep you on track. Having all these in place will culminate in a successful career in the graphic design industry.

Do you have dreams of becoming a successful designer, but lack the funds to attend a designing school? This article will help you find success even without a formal education.

Oprettet 1 august, 2017

Ruchi Bhargava

Content Writing | Designing | Web Development

Hi! Are you looking for content that gets all the birds (read: customers) in one proverbial stone? Then I'm the person you need to talk to. After millions of words written for my clients, I can guarantee one thing: quality. When you're working with me, you'll get nothing short of perfect, well-researched, and enticing content. But that's not all I'm about. Along with creating custom cont...

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