The field of graphic design is probably considered by many to be a very recent field of study, when in fact the art of graphic design has roots as far back as the earliest human beings who walked the face of the Earth. Graphic design has existed since mankind first scribbled crude drawings on the walls of caves in Europe, and advanced through time with the advent of books, the printing press, and most notably computers.
Graphic design is generally thought of as the creative process with the goal of expressing a message toward a targeted audience. Graphic design in the 21st century has almost limitless applications that exist in a wide variety of career fields.
Graphic design elements can be found in all of the following fields with different effects:
- Large companies use graphic design on letterheads for faxes and interoffice memorandums to call attention to the company logo, which itself is a result of graphic design.
- Governments use graphic design to create signs for streets, paths, and parks.
- The entertainment industry uses graphic design to decorate, create scenery, and add visual imagery to storytelling.
- Textbook creators employ graphic design for maps in geography text or to highlight human anatomy in science books.
Graphic design visually surrounds us on a daily basis to enhance the transfer of knowledge. Individuals looking to enhance their knowledge of the subject by attending a graphic design school should consider their existing ability in the following areas:
- Visual Arts
- Typography (art, skill, and technique of arranging, designing, and modifying type)
- Page Layout (ability to combine text and graphics on a page with unique style)
- Interface Design (dealing largely with how users interact with websites)
- Chromatics (design based upon how the human eye perceives color)
Individuals with an ability to master one or more of these skills is going to be a good candidate for a graphic design school. Many people possess these skills, but they are raw or in need of refinement which is exactly why graphic design schools exist.
While some individuals may be able to work their way into a graphic design career field with little or no formal education, the majority of individuals interested in working in graphic design will need to find a school to help them refine their talents. There are a wide variety of options available to those interested in improving their education in graphic design. Individuals can choose from certificate programs to full college coursework at a four year university or college. The exact options available to individuals include the following:
- Certificate programs: 1-2 years of coursework often taken at a technical school
- Associate’s Degree: Also a shorter route at 1-2 years but offered at a wider variety of specialized institutions
- Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree: Usually requires 3-4 of coursework at a major university or college
All of these routes will provide a graphic design student with a solid base of knowledge to enter the career field. Certificate and Associate’s programs have the benefit of being faster to complete, but will likely only garner an individual an entry level position in graphic design. A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree takes longer but opens more doors after school to an individual with the ability to earn more money sooner in their career. The type of education an individual pursues will depend largely upon the field of graphic design they are interested in and what kind of programs are offered in their area.
Once an individual graduates from a graphic design school it may seem overwhelming trying to decide where to apply for a job. However, graphic design is prevalent in almost every industry and covers all aspects of the creative spectrum. The following are just a few of the career fields an individual can pursue after completing graphic design school:
- Creative/Art Director: Directors take charge of a creative team responsible for designing all manner of artwork appearing in magazines, on television, and on billboards.
- Illustrator: Use creative images to illustrate a story or represent an idea.
- Multimedia Designer: Work in entertainment creating images used in television, animation, and feature films.
- Web Designer: Responsible for creating the images displayed on web pages, designing the layout of the page, and helping in development of the site.
Regardless of the career field an individual pursues after graphic design school, all the jobs require close attention to detail, good design senses, problem solving skills, and a good knowledge of the latest software used in graphic design.
Even though some people can ride their pure talent into a good job, graphic design school is necessary for the majority of individuals in the field if they hope to earn a decent wage later in life. Currently individuals in the graphic design field average an annual salary of $35,000. Salaries can range however from as little as $20,000 to as much as $65,000 a year. The graphic design field is very competitive and many individuals are actually self-employed or working on a freelance basis. Before entering any graphic design school to pursue greater education in the subject, individuals should keep the intense competition in the field in mind as their desire and focus will play a big role in their later career ambitions.