8 Steps to Get Into Graphic Arts

Articles May 29, 2009

Getting into the world of graphic arts can be an exciting venture where you not only get to express your creative talent, but also earn a great living doing what you love to do. It is a very flexible career choice with many paths to go down and combinations to master. For example you could start off being a graphic designer working for a company, then learn web design in addition to graphic design and start your own design business from the comfort of your home or you could just earn extra money on the side being a freelance graphic artist if you already have another job you want to keep.


Steps to Get Into Graphic Arts

1. Start With the Basics

Even though graphic design is mainly associated with computers nowadays, its roots are in fine art. Many graphic art pieces years ago were all done by hand using tools and materials and not by fancy computers and software. This is why its great to have a foundation in drawing, painting and other fine art skills. If you attend design school, many of them will require you to take basic art classes before you are even allowed to touch programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator.

2. Design School

If you can afford it nothing beats going to a 4 year design school. The experience and guidance you will get is well worth the money and by the time you are done you should have a solid portfolio and resume ready with maybe even a few contacts. Many schools have career departments that can even hlep you find a job after school and the 4 year degree looks great and resumes and can mean an instant higher yearly salary for you.

3. Mastering the Software

The Adobe software suite is what most graphic artists use, so you will need to master these programs and the only way to do that is to spend many hours using each one. Read books, practice tutorials and take classes so the programs become second nature to you.

4. Creating a Portfolio

A portfolio is a must-have for any graphic artist. Some places don’t even care about your resume, they just want to know you can produce amazing work and when you are looking for clients online people go straight to the portfolio before anything else. So make sure you have a nice custom website portfolio up and be sure to update it on a regular basis.

5. Creating Your Resume

Most companies who are hiring will want to see your resume and some freelance clients will request it as well. You should have a copy of your resume ready to go in case some one requests it and you should have a few nicely printed versions ready to hand out with a disposable portfolio, which you would leave after an interview.

6. Networking

Networking is an essential aspect of any business and graphic design is no exception. The more designers and players in the design community you know the better your chances will be when it comes to finding a job of new freelance clients. Keep in contact with your network, take them to lunch, call them once in a while or send an email. This way you are actually making friends and not just abusing people when you need something. Be nice to others and they will often return the favor.

7. Join the Offline Community

If you want to make the most of your career you should get as involved as you can in the offline design community. Try going to museums, lectures, shows and anything else you can. If you love design you may even find yourself doing things like saving business cards from stores you go into just so you can look at them later for inspiration!

8. Join the Online Community

The online design community is one of the richest on the web. It is filled with great blogs, tutorial sites, forums, books, free resources, interviews and much more. Staying involved in the online community will help you keep up to date with the design community on topics such as design trends, hot new studios, marketing tips, business advice and much more.

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Cadence is You The Designer's senior blogger, and the most jack-of-all-trades of the staff. She's always trying out something different every day, some of which fuels her posts here on the blog. Let her know if you want us to post more about your favorite topic - she might know more than a thing or two about it!

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  • http://www.blueunplugged.com/p.aspx?p=119229 wii remote

    different career option and different graphic is used its roots are in fine art. also earn a great living doing what you love to do.

  • http://www.catastrophicproductions.com Adam

    Good advice all around.

    One thing I’d like to add: a designer’s resume should almost never look black and white. If you can add design to your resume and make it look as good as anything in your portfolio, it’ll make a much greater impact on potential employers.

  • http://masonvaughn.com/ Mason

    I believe that step #1 is a crucial step. Knowing the basics will enable a person to excell at the trade. It is not wise to build on sand, concrete is always better!

  • http://www.orphicpixel.com orphicpixel

    interesting and very helpful tips

  • http://lopini.deviantart.com/ Agustín

    Excellent article.
    Thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.draft3.com draft3design

    And, it bears repeating, you may have to do some work for free in the beginning. An academic portfolio is one thing, but a portfolio with some real-world samples is something else altogether.

  • http://novatvmedia.com Ezrad Lionel

    Very beautiful site and wonderful articles. I look forward to coming here more often. I was primarily a programmer, doing web design for fun, but I realize I’m very creative. And that creative side can’t be hidden. I’ve been doing web development, design and motion graphics for about 3 years now. It’s in my blood now. I’m glad I got into it kind of late though, the software these days are so powerful. After Effects, Photoshop, 3DS Max, I call it my reality from scratch pack. Good luck to anyone who wants to design, it’s very rewarding. But be warned, if you’re just trying to impress people with half ass attempts, you should get into politics. Your work must always impress you first and foremost.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk paul

    nice post! im now starting to look more closely to graphic art where as before i just use photoshop for the design aspect of my web design.. i would very much appreciate it if you could post me 10 of the best graphic art sites that you think are good starting points for someone in this career.

  • http://laurenreagan.com/ Lauren Reagan

    Graphic Arts is a wonderful field to get into and your words are welcomed.

  • http://www.myfavoriteletterisb.com Brad Krause

    Very well put. Although I would have moved #3 (software) down the line of importance a little. The software is only a tool, and you must be able to solve problems creatively.

    This is great advice for anyone wanting to get into the field and have a successful career! This is the right way to do it, if you are serious.

    Brad Krause
    Graphic Designer

  • http://www.jdandtina.com Jonathan Daniel

    Yeah, this is about the order I did it in.

  • http://www.oneononetutorials.com Jeevan

    There’s limitless possibilities in what you can do in Graphic Design.So many jobs out there. Networking is crucial to a freelance designer.

  • http://www.idealhut.com IdealHut

    Very useful post…Thanks!

  • http://www.digitalsqft.net Website Designer Katy TX

    This is a good solid read for a lot of people trying to get started. Going to share.

  • http://www.flashlightreviews.info/ Flashlight Reviews

    all advices are good but i like most step number 1, 4, 5 and 8 :)

  • http://www.amjadiqbal.com/ Amjad Iqbal

    excellent and very helpful tips. thanks for sharing!

  • http://7tongraphics.com Mike

    This is a great article. I feel that web portfolios are one of the most important things to have among others in this list.


    It’s a great guideline for a beginner. It will be a great help if you can state some great websites that could help a beginners. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.kaplang.com Kaplang

    interesting, I am just starting out on my own right now, so I will try and use some of these tips but some I have already been using.

  • http://outcastdesignstudio.com Joshua

    Great list, but at this point in time, I’d say the single most important thing on that list is a portfolio or resume. It’s ridiculously difficult to find work at the moment, and a good portfolio may be the only thing to save you.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk paul

    very nice article! an inspiration to progression on the way up! nice tips and advice, many thanks.

  • http://www.liclifeinsuranceindia.com Adam K.

    Wow! Fantastic! Great thing!