strentacosta09

Help! Looking to get into Graphic Design

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Hi there,

As you can probably tell by the topic I'm looking for some help in getting into graphic design. I feel for a start that I have a mediocre design background but I love sports and the designs that are a part of it and everyone starts somewhere, right? Being already graduated from high school, I can't take any high school art classes but I am looking at maybe going into graphic design for college. Currently I am a part-time community college student and there isn't much as far as courses offered at my community college. I'm looking for some advice on how to get started into making quality designs. What are some helpful tools such as reading material to help get me started? Any online resources that have helped?

I think it could also be beneficial to me to hear how some of you have grown into becoming a design and possibly share the path that had led them to where they currently are.

I have been using some of the freeware design programs such as inkscape and paint.net for a little bit on my own and am wondering if it is worth it get the Adobe products. If it is is there anywhere that can help teach me how to use such programs.

I love sports and love design, so any help that can be given will be appreciated. If you need anymore information about where I am coming from to help me out feel free to ask me questions too.

Thanks

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My advice is going to be somewhat dismal, and since I am not a professional designer, take that for it's weight. Others will definitely be of more help.

  1. The best resource you have is your own imagination and will to teach yourself. The few design courses I took gave me a really skeletal look at the How but it's extremely rudimentary stuff. Learning how to create stunning work takes a lot of time. A lot...of...time, as well as practicing out the ass. If you can find entry level classes, take them. Making up your mind to be a designer in college is a great opportunity - don't waste it if you're sure it's what you want to do.
  2. It's going to take years, and chances are excellent you probably won't do this professionally. Most designers I know sell their industry freelance and bring in supplementary income to whatever other job they do. Access to pirated copies of photoshop/illustrator/etc is easy as hell, so the amount of people who are vying to sell their talents has infinitely expanded over the last 10 years, and it grows annually. The point is - do this because it brings you joy, not because you feel like "it could be a cool job."
  3. The internet offers countless tutorials on techniques to really kick up your arsenal of methodology, but without practice and innumerable "throwaway" pieces of work, it's wasted. When I was doing design both for others and myself, I'd pour hours and hours every night into making things I'd ultimately throw away, but I retained those skills. Frustration and impatience are your companions, learn to adapt to them and you'll be better off.
  4. Working for a client is a totally different experience than designing on your own. Doing design for clients is precisely why I don't do non-personal design any longer. It turned something I used to love to do into something I hated. Some designers flourish in a challenging arena like that, most don't. This is something you've pretty much got to learn by experience, unfortunately.
  5. Stay motivated. Stay inspired. Challenge yourself.

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That's actually really great advice, Andy.

I don't think any two designers start the same way, but the thing that unites us all is that we have the passion for it. If you want to do it for a paycheck only, you'll tire of it really quickly. I do corporate branding/design for a living, the sports stuff is all really just a personal hobby of mine. Hopefully we get some sports guys in here, too.

I am almost entirely self-taught, and I actually went to school for marketing. Turns out my first two marketing jobs out of school morphed more into graphics, and now I'm the go-to at my current company for graphic design, including the magazine we publish. You can make a niche wherever you go if you have the will and the talent. Seize every opportunity you get to learn and build a portfolio, even if they're "throwaways" like Andy mentioned.

That being said, the one thing you HAVE TO learn if you want to be a good designer is this: humility. Keeping your ego in check is very important -- both as a freelancer or full timer. I often see people getting worked up over legitimate feedback, and as a creative professional, I think it's really important to remember that they're not "attacking" your expression, they just don't identify with it for whatever reason. You can almost always offer your opinions, but at the end of the day, they're the client, not you. If you can't take criticism and adjust, definitely not a good career choice ;)

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Great stuff from both of you!

I would just add I started doing this about 5-6 years ago for fun & have developed some OK skills.

Just like what was said it takes a lot of time & patience to get to where you would even want to present what you have done to others.

If you really want to do this then go after it.

Not to knock education at all but before I sink real money into learning this I think you can gleam a lot by watching & learning from this forum & tutorials online.

I am not saying this to be funny but Google is real helpful in finding online resources that will help.

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I also began a pursuit into graphic design a couple months ago after i graduated college. I was lurker on this forum ever since the mid 2000's but never had the confidence or skills to post up my designs and later on, I developed some experience using photoshop to create flyers for the organizations I was involved in, but never was good enough to be dubbed a graphic designer. Because I just graduated, I didn't want to go back to school. After researching online whether or not it was possible to be self taught, many graphic designers preferred to learn from online tutorials and study up on graphic design through textbooks you can easily find online or just buy through amazon.

I came across this site, http://wegraphics.ne...etting-started/, and though it is a bit old, it list some educational reference that helped me out. It states that not only you should learn how to use a variety amount of design software, but to also study up on typography, design theory, humility, and the ins and outs of being a professional graphic designer. Although it is important to better your skills through tutorials, it is also beneficial to broaden your imaginative horizons. Or in Paul Rand's words, "form and idea"

Also, it helps to participate in forums and critique sites to be apart of a community that would judge your work. In my experience here, I posted up a very poor design for my personal logo, and a few users helped me out by telling me to just throw my current idea out the window and just start fresh and sketch because the design wasn't working in my favor. They also redirected me to a blog from David Airey, author of a great logo book, Logo Design Love. This blog helped me out whenever I couldn't think of an idea because of the way I was thinking and brainstorming. There are many blogs and videos that'll help you out as well.

I'm not sure if this is the right way to enter the field, but I'm thinking there is no right way. No matter how much you prepare and learn through books, you need to also learn from your mistakes which will be beneficial in the long run for you. While you probably won't make a masterpiece right off the bat, you need to understand that through all the frustrations and mistakes when making designs, you are learning and you are at least progressing bit by bit. At least, that's how I saw it whenever things weren't going well for me.

Like previously stated above, it will take some time to really get decent at design. You need to study and practice.

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Thanks for the replies guys. Very good information and it's helping me get a better insight on what graphic design is all about. I'm not very good at drawing so will that have any effect on how well my designs will be or as with all things in life just practice and continue to get help and get better. I feel like I can come up with great ideas in my head but I just can't seem to get the ideas put down onto paper as I see them in my head.

Also any help on places to find inspiration from. I search the web a ton throughout the day but I am looking for places dedicated to giving inspiration on primarily design stuff.

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Thanks for the replies guys. Very good information and it's helping me get a better insight on what graphic design is all about. I'm not very good at drawing so will that have any effect on how well my designs will be or as with all things in life just practice and continue to get help and get better. I feel like I can come up with great ideas in my head but I just can't seem to get the ideas put down onto paper as I see them in my head.

Also any help on places to find inspiration from. I search the web a ton throughout the day but I am looking for places dedicated to giving inspiration on primarily design stuff.

I've found that a lot of great designers also are great artists with pencil and paper. Sketching out an idea first is how a ton of great ideas start and can really streamline the process, but it's not necessarily a must.

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I'm just going to ramble a bit....

I've been in the corporate and sports design field going on about 10 years now. I did go to college for it, which helped, especially with the print and production side of things. You need a strong background on what works visually and why it works.

My primary piece of advice would be to practice designing as much as possible. Do a wide array of projects to get experience with different concepts. I still come home from my job as a designer, and jump into the computer or get down with a pen and paper and practice. Try to learn new techniques and skills constantly. Be innovative, but try to stay practical.

A lot of design work for clients is creating ideas and concepts that will never see the light of day that you love, and you'll have to produce things that you simply hate. Just the nature of the business. We are in an ever-evolving market so trends come and go, and it's best if you can stay up to date on them.

One more note...study typography. Know your typefaces. Create letters, and letter forms from scratch. This is a great design method if you want practice.

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I'm just going to ramble a bit....

I've been in the corporate and sports design field going on about 10 years now. I did go to college for it, which helped, especially with the print and production side of things. You need a strong background on what works visually and why it works.

My primary piece of advice would be to practice designing as much as possible. Do a wide array of projects to get experience with different concepts. I still come home from my job as a designer, and jump into the computer or get down with a pen and paper and practice. Try to learn new techniques and skills constantly. Be innovative, but try to stay practical.

A lot of design work for clients is creating ideas and concepts that will never see the light of day that you love, and you'll have to produce things that you simply hate. Just the nature of the business. We are in an ever-evolving market so trends come and go, and it's best if you can stay up to date on them.

One more note...study typography. Know your typefaces. Create letters, and letter forms from scratch. This is a great design method if you want practice.

It's been a little over a month since the last post, but I thought I'd chime in anyway...

I would think that the people who truly "get" graphic design, and become good at it, are the ones that started at an early age. Sorta like your first love of anything. If you're X-mas list included colored pencils, right at the top, chances are that you might be headed down that path to graphic understanding. From the get go, you "wanted" to know how it all worked. You were in love with it, immediately. Then it became a passion. When anything becomes a passion, you're mind goes into auto-pilot, and you just do it. You don't decide whether it's something you want to do. You just do it.

When I was very young, sports graphics appealed to me. Especially lettering. Without any prodding, I found myself doodling, drawing numbers & letters, staring at anything with a logo. I would try to duplicate what I thought was cool-looking. As I did this, I would start to see the methods as to how these things were created. During the 70's, being a huge Yankees fan, I would go out of my way to draw the teams script logo. After failing miserably, I still couldn't stop looking at it. Then it dawned on me... I took two pencils, taped them together, then drew the letters as if to write it cursively. Bingo! I was beside myself with this discovery. This is just an example of what someone will do when they're really "into" something. Having to decide whether you might want to dive into something is one indicator that you might not put your heart into it. That's what separates the good designers from the mediocre. Like anything else, desire & practice are key. It doesn't really matter what you have to work with. If you want it bad enough, you'll use anything you can get your hands on.

I remember the days, before the computer, when you actually had to understand graphic theory and actually be a good artist to even stand a chance at a career in this field. Man, I'm gettin old.

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I'll share how I got started, in Elementary School I used to trace/draw cars that I liked as a kid as well as Pokemon Characters. To be honest some people will have to take courses to learn and some people just have it. It might be rare but I'm sure there's plenty of designers who were just born with the skill to be a designer and only had to keep advancing their skills as time goes on. As a kid I loved drawing sports teams logos, painting, sculpting and making clay maps for Geography projects, by middle school I started creating graphics by computer and the passion since has never left.

I love Graphics, everything I glance at can be looked upon as art to me, that's just how my mind works, I've never took a class on it, I became my own teacher so I studied fonts, logos, color schemes, I could be in a restaurant looking at the menu heck and get inspiration or ideas, it all comes from within you. All the work I do is private so there's constant projects I'm working on and when I have free time that's when my passion for creating sports concepts comes into play. IMO Good/Great Graphic Designers are perhaps the most creative people in the world.

With a strong will to pursue Graphic Design the possibilities are endless for you, so "research" and "practicing" is your best friend and if you do decide to take classes for it always develop things on your spare time to stay ahead of the game so when a project or what have you needs to be done, it'll become a breeze for you, looking forward to seeing some work from you.

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I went to school for design TWICE... Crazy, I know.

The first was a traditional, 4 yr program at a small, liberal arts school. The second was a 2 yr portfolio school and it was life changing.

It took me a little bit longer to get into the industry, but both experiences helped me tremendously. I got a well-rounded education, which helped build my critical thinking skills, and I then fine tuned my craft at a design school. It's a lot of time and money, but a good education goes a long way in life.

Anyone can master programs and make something pretty, but it's the individual that can combine strategic and conceptual thinking that will stand above the rest. And I don't think that ability is something that's just inherently gained through self-teaching, at least it wasn't for me.

If you decide design school is in your future, I highly recommend the Portfolio Center in Atlanta.

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cheapest and easiest way to work on your skills is good ol' pencil and paper. i carry a sketchbook with me constantly.

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cheapest and easiest way to work on your skills is good ol' pencil and paper. i carry a sketchbook with me constantly.

Same here. People call me weird. Label me if you want, but I do it in case if I get inspired.

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cheapest and easiest way to work on your skills is good ol' pencil and paper. i carry a sketchbook with me constantly.

Same here. People call me weird. Label me if you want, but I do it in case if I get inspired.

Yet, the most of what you give us is a old/recycled logo.

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cheapest and easiest way to work on your skills is good ol' pencil and paper. i carry a sketchbook with me constantly.

Same here. People call me weird. Label me if you want, but I do it in case if I get inspired.

Yet, the most of what you give us is a old/recycled logo.

He said in case he does, it just hasn't happened yet :P

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My interest here is two fold

First off I want to also add that David Airey has a blog called Logo Design Love that I've started looking at more frequently recently. I think it's awesome and I'm really glad I found it recently.

Second, I am also looking to get into some form of professional graphic design. I am a rising sophomore at a small liberal arts school and I am studying visual communications as a minor (Mass Communications being my major). I have always been fascinated by logo design (specifically sports), and I like the fact that almost everything you see is some form of design; my earliest memory of loving graphic design would be how I would cram my neck to catch a glimpse of the logos and designs of the billboards I would see when driving up to Philadelphia. I also remember sketching imaginary uniforms on a paper whenever there were no billboards to ogle at. Now that I'm driving, I try not to stare so much :) . Over the past few years (especially this past one) I have become much more interested in corporate identity design. Trying to learn what an identity is, which ones are the best, and why. I still struggle with how to best translate the ideas the company wants to communicate into a successful identity, but I feel like I'm getting the hang of it the more I look at branding books/guides ect. I was very fortunate in that I had the opportunity to re-brand, and be the "go to graphics guy" for my college's radio station, WVYC. It has given me a very healthy experience of trying to build a visual brand that's consistent, but also working with others inside and out of the station to implement it in a way that's easy for people to use properly. It has been a real challenge, and there are many strides that still need to be made, but I'm proud of the work I've done thus far.

The best advice I have to offer is to try to do as much work as you can. Don't "stick yourself in a box" and only think sports design. If you see anything that you think can be improved, take a stab at it! If you feel really confident in it, then share it with maybe this community or somewhere it could actual get used.

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^good stuff man, I can relate to all of that completely. Corporate identity design is something that has interested me greatly for a while now and the sports side of things obviously as well. I'm studying graphic design first year and just learning as much as I can as I go. It's the best.

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