Useful Tips

What does a graphic designer do and how much is this profession in demand today?


It is not at all necessary to pay for expensive graphic design courses or spend precious years studying at educational institutions. Fortunately, thanks to the Internet, we have the opportunity to save our time and money and learn everything on our own, you only need a desire.

In this article, we have compiled useful tips and sources for you that will help you advance in mastering the art of graphic design. Many of the materials mentioned below are English-speaking, but we do not see any problem in this, because the real reason for excitement is lack of knowledge of English in the modern world.

1. Take your time

Do not make the most common mistake of all novice professionals - to hurry. You will have to spend time thoroughly studying Photoshop and Illustrator, learn drawing techniques and learn the basics in general.

First, learn to draw if you do not already have this skill.

1. To do this, it is absolutely not necessary to sit in the same audience with the same newcomers and try to draw another cube or vase. Actually, you don’t need to be a super artist. It is enough to know the basics of drawing and be able to sketch.
2. The well-known and incredibly useful book “You Can Draw In 30 Days” will help you with this. Just do it for at least thirty minutes a day for a month, and you can master more than mediocre drawing skills.

Learn the basics of graphic design

1. We recommend that you review our basic courses on Color, Typography, Compositions

2. The book “Picture This”, based on a fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood, will help to cope with this. It teaches the basics of graphic design and drawing.
3. Learn fonts, colors. If there is an opportunity and a desire to take courses, it’s good, otherwise, you have the whole Internet in your hands, which is teeming with free lessons and video materials on the topic.
4. Engage in these lessons daily, they will help you in your learning.

You should also know at least the basics of UX

Without knowledge of UX, you cannot be a full-fledged graphic designer, because your product should first of all be user-friendly. To do this, you should read at least these two books:

1. “Design of familiar things”
2. “Do not make me think”

You must be able to write

1. A good designer should succeed in communication and think through every moment in his design, including the text. Write so that your text is not dry and unattractive. Here again, you will need knowledge of the user experience.
2. If you read the book “Made To Stick”, it will help you learn how to write catchy texts.
3. Also bookmark your Voice and Tone site. There are a lot of examples of excellent texts, you will need them for further work.

2. Thoroughly explore Photoshop and Illustrator

Now that the theory and fundamentals have been studied, it's time to start practicing. It is worth starting with Illustrator, and then moving on to Photoshop.

Illustrator is used in creating icons and there are a lot of lessons and books with which you can learn how to work in this program, and here are a couple for you:

1. “Adobe Illustrator Classroom in a Book” is a very tedious but useful book. And if you can master at least half of this textbook, then you can already quite confidently navigate the program.
2. On this channel you can find four fairly detailed video tutorials that can completely replace the aforementioned boring book.
3. “Vector Basic Training” - a book with which you will learn how to create images using curves. By the way, in addition to the book, the link also provides videos and exercises.

Photoshop is considered more complex than Illustrator, but the Internet is full of lessons on this program:

1. Tuts + - here you will find a ton of lessons (and Illustrator, by the way, too) that will help you learn tools and gain drawing skills.
2. This channel contains a fairly large number of lessons on Photoshop, and they will definitely come in handy.
3. Photoshop Tutorials - a fairly useful resource, which in addition to the lessons there are various plugins, brushes, gradients and much more
4. Study on these materials at least an hour a day, and you will quickly achieve a fairly high level of knowledge of Photoshop.
3. Decide on your specialty

Like any field of activity, graphic design is divided into several narrow specialties: mobile applications, logos, web design. Decide what you like best and direct all your energy to studying your desired specialization.

Logo Design:

1. “Logo and corporate identity” - in this book you will read about how to make a really cool and beautiful logo.
2. Logo Design Love - a site from the author of the aforementioned book. It is also devoted to logos, so it is worth hanging on it. Here are collected inspiring examples and interesting information about creating a logo.
3. If you do not want to dwell only on creating a logo, then the book “Designing Brand Identity” will help you learn how to build the entire structure of the brand completely - starting from the site and ending with personal business cards.

Mobile App Design:

1. Here you will find a wonderful guide on creating a mobile application interface. With it, you can at least superficially understand what you have to deal with.
2. “Tapworthy” is a great and small book from Josh Clark, in which he talks about how to create an attractive, and most importantly convenient application.
3. Walk through the applications on your smartphone and try to understand which one is done well, which is not very good, and which is generally very bad. And pay attention to the little things that were not, in your opinion, thought out to the end, come up with a way to fix existing errors.

Web design:

1. Here, again, the book “Do not make me think” mentioned above will come in handy, be sure to read it, especially since we have found a Russian translation for you.
2. On this resource you will find 20 free books on web design, and we advise you to read at least a couple of them.
3. As with mobile app design, collect the sites you like and see what’s done and how. Write down the main advantages of these sites and try to meet your ideals in future work.
Those who want to become a graphic designer often have a question whether they need to know HTML and CSS. Let's just say that knowing the basics of development will not hinder you in any way and even give an advantage. But everything, of course, depends on the specific work or project.

Even if you are not going to become a web developer, the basics of HTML and CSS are worth knowing, especially since there are a huge number of free lessons that you can find in our articles:

1. Useful resources for programmers
2. 9 most useful sites for learning programming

And also on these resources:

1. One of the best free Tuts +
2. And one of the best paid, but inexpensive ($ 25 / month) - Treehouse. It is suitable for beginners who are looking for a clear and simple explanation.

4. Take care of your portfolio

Today, a diploma does not matter at all, but a portfolio means a lot. And at the same time you do not need to work on real projects so that you have your own work. Just do your own thing, for example, make sketches of application interfaces, sites, draw logos for those local companies that either do not have them, or the logo that exists is worthless. By the way, in the latter case, sometimes it is worth contacting the same company with your work, and it is quite possible that your logo will be bought from you, even for a little money.

Also do various cool stuff on 99 designs, and do the exercises from the Creative Workshop book. Most importantly, fight with your desire to shove all your work into the portfolio, choose only the best. Let your portfolio be small but worthwhile. And do not be afraid to “steal” work, borrow ideas, because you are a beginner specialist and you need to learn something. Of course, we are not talking about you giving the work of others as ours. Just pick up ideas and modify them.

5. Get a job

Here everyone has their own way - either go to work in the office, or be a freelancer. We’ll say right away that it’s much easier to start with office work, since, most likely, you will not be the only specialist in the state and they will be able to take you under wing to finish your studies. But getting into the office is harder than finding a project on freelance, your ability to understand and complete the task will already matter.

We talked above about knowledge of the development basics, and here they will be useful to you as never before, because in the IT field graphic designers are very in demand and have the highest earnings.

How to find a job? Create your own website, the focus of which will be your portfolio. Sign up for LinkedIn and try contacting the company you want to join, or the people working there. Try to make connections, because they are the key to a good job.

Most importantly, do not stop training if you have already got a job. Improve your knowledge and skills all the time, and you will not have time to look back as you become a real pro.

Description of the profession (or who is he?)

A graphic designer is a master of design and decoration convenient for the world of users. He is a wizard, able to breathe life into simple lines, shapes and inscriptions.

For people of my profession, design is a way to convey the right information to a client using graphic images.

His skills are used in the development of:

  • logo and corporate identity,
  • print products,
  • packaging
  • online advertising
  • websites
  • magazines and books
  • infographic (graphic diagrams),
  • presentations
  • computer game interface.

In the era of the Internet, designers have appeared who work remotely or differently at home, they are also called freelancers. And I am among them. All my work is done over the Internet. Communication with the customer occurs in social networks and in the Skype program.

What professional skills and qualities are useful?

There is an opinion that a professional graphic designer needs to know programming, understand codes, know the basics of copywriting. Is this so, let's figure it out together.

The other day I thought, should a designer be able to draw? The answer came with the question: Should an economist be able to count? But to be able to draw does not mean to masterfully master a tool, a graphic designer works in a “narrow” world. He does not create complex works of art. Nevertheless, the ability to draw will help to understand the visual processes from within.

But to own the basics of composition, to be able to use fonts, to know the color graphic designer must. He is also obliged to constantly improve his professional skills and understand the latest fashion and style trends in his field.

Of course, the main tool in the work of the designer is computer programs Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. And depending on what the graphic designer does, he uses this or that program.

A true professional works and develops in one of the areas of graphic design. My advice is to choose one or two directions. For example, I chose several similar ones - designing groups on social networks and developing an Internet environment (web-design).

Important qualities that should be and without which you can not do in the work:

  • artistic taste,
  • visual perception
  • the ability to think original and soberly,
  • creativity and ingenuity
  • knowledge of modern fashion and culture.

What about programming, codes and copywriting? - you ask. My opinion is, for "aerobatics" it will be appropriate. But believe me, it’s better to be a pro in one thing and have an excellent coordinated team, which will include a programmer, layout designer, and copywriter.

Can you become a graphic designer?

Let's look at the profession of graphic designer from the perspective of a layman. When a beautiful picture appears in front of our eyes, we stop looking at it and delve into its “contents”. At this moment, our attention is captured using special graphic techniques.

For an ordinary person, they are invisible. He likes the picture as a whole. But the designer, like a magician, was able to put the right accents and catch our attention. Can you master these skills? Of course yes!

But first, I advise you to think carefully, look inside yourself and answer three questions:

  1. Are you ready to change with time?
  2. Serve for the benefit of the client and society?
  3. Understand and do what customers want from you?

Look for your style, see the work of other designers, create a separate folder where you will save your favorite work. Develop an artistic taste and learn to draw. I’ll talk about this in more detail in the article “How to become a graphic designer”.

It seemed to me not so long ago that in order to comprehend this profession, I need to be able to draw well, which I never learned, and at least graduate from a university and get a diploma. Yes, all this knowledge gained will be a big plus and a huge experience that will help you start working in your specialty.

But in our work, only part of the knowledge that can be obtained in special courses on graphic design is useful.

Where to start a career as a graphic designer?

Most beginners “merge” on the fact that they do not have a high-quality portfolio and work experience. What to do?

Firstly, do not be afraid. I recommend starting learning immediately on real assignments. There are freelance exchanges for beginners where you can find design tasks, for example, a simple exchange - Work-zilla, I started with it myself. This will allow you to “get your hand” on small orders, learn how to negotiate with employers, get your first treasured positive reviews and finished work to add to your portfolio.

When you take your first orders and complete them, you will have self-confidence and experience.

Secondly, invite your friends, acquaintances, or the “first comer” to develop a design in exchange for a review. Often, people willingly agree and trust.

Thirdly, tidy up your social networks. On the other side of the computer, nothing is known about you, so it is very important to have a “live” page on a social network. Write down the “correct” status and post your work. Believe me, from this the degree of trust in you will be higher, and you will attract more attention to yourself.

Fourth, finally, start working at one of the professional freelance exchanges. Pay great attention to your profile. It depends on whether you will have orders or not. After all, the competition is very big, but if you have the skills that I described above, you will certainly find your customers.

I have great news for those who want to receive orders stably and not be afraid that there will be no work tomorrow. You will be happy to be hired by advertising or branding agencies, a design bureau, a publishing house or a private company that has a vacant staff.

How much do graphic designers get for their work?

In our profession, salaries range from $ 200 (in a small company) to $ 3,000 and higher (in a large project of a large company). What does it depend on? Income is affected by both personal qualifications and the size of the company and its capabilities, provided that you work for a permanent employer.

How are freelancers doing?

Since I myself am looking for customers, a very simple calculation helps me evaluate the cost of work in my personal practice. Suppose your goal is to earn $ 300 (we will be objective, for a beginner this is a very good start).

8 hours a day
5 days a week
Total: 160 hours per month

Thus, the price for 1 hour of work is $ 1,875 ($ 300/160 = $ 1,875).

Another option, how to determine the cost of work, is to peek prices for similar orders. Please note that everyone has their own speed. However, the first steps on the exchange will help you find out how fast you are completing a particular order.

To summarize

Every day, hundreds of new sites, online stores appear on the Internet, groups are created in social networks, a new business is opened and everyone wants to stand out from the “crowd”. To date, no good company can do without the services of designers and other professions with the possibility of remote work.

About this theme I want to recommend you one interesting bookrevealing what other options for online professions are. It is called "Switching to Remote Work." You can download it for free at this link.

Perhaps in the book you will find directions for yourself in which you would like to work and develop. Remember that the Internet is huge and there is always work.

If you have any questions, or they will appear after reading the book and my other articles, then ask them in the comments. We are always ready to help and advise you where to start and where you will personally move.