This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

How to become a Graphic Designer

Like most people who became professional Graphic Designers, I stumbled into it without really knowing what Graphic Designers do, what they needed to know, and where they worked. From the time I was a little kid, I had imagined that one day I would be a professional artist. Whether there was a career out there like that, and how it worked, didn't interest me. I liked drawing, and design, including architecture, and somewhere out in the the great big world I was going to find a way.

I started at a Community College, which is where I strongly encourage anyone to start, whether they are right out of high school, or are considering a career change. I didn't bother talking to career counselors, and don't really recommend it to this day. I just signed up for some interesting classes and followed along what would ultimately become my career path. I spoke with the teachers, with the other students. I liked to draw and paint, but I wanted to know what kind of careers were out there, and what I needed to learn.

It took me over seven years to get my four-year degree. I took a lot of classes, explored a lot of routes. I found that I didn't have the math skills to become an architect. I learned the difference between a Fine Artist and a Commercial Artist. And that's when I discovered Graphic Design. I wasn't really good enough, or dedicated enough, at drawing and painting to be a studio artist. I really had no interest in trying to sell my artwork at shows or galleries. And although many of these people became wildly successful, I always saw them as *starving artists*. Not for me.

Graphic Designers need to know the tools. My education was in the days of T-squares and drawing boards. I learned how to cut rubylith, how to spec type, how to use a pica rule. I still feel very strongly that knowledge of the tools of the trade is critical to a Graphic Designer. And nowadays those tools are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver on a Macintosh computer.

The best place to start today is with the correct tools. Invest in an Macintosh Computer (yes, they are about twice as expensive as a PC). Invest in The Adobe Creative Suite Design Premium. If the pace of a Community College is too slow for you (and it is really slow), and you can afford it, attend a college like The Art Institute of Phoenix. If you want to learn the tools faster, attend a training session with a company like Ledet, or hire me for personal training.

You only have one life. It's so easy to fall into a boring 9-to-5 job that most people do it. And they hate it, I know. I loved being a Graphic Designer, and I still do. And when I became a teacher in 1996, I had the joy of watching people change their lives.

You can do this!