Are You Taking Control of Your Graphic Design Career?

by Drew Rattray

Ahhh… The joys of a graphic design career can be rewarding and profitable if you are diligent, especially right from the start.

In the Beginning…

A majority of designers start in one phase of design and end in another. For some, like me, it is a logical progression taking you from print to web to digital, to interactive, etc. For most, including myself, you start wherever you can get that first opportunity. For me, it was a company doing direct mail in-statement pieces. It wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was my first job, and I was resigned to the fact that I would take anything that came along.


Be Diligent

While taking any offer that came my way was exciting initially, I would have taken a different route if I had been a little more discriminating. I didn’t quite know what my niche or specialty should be, so I took any job that came my way.

Don’t get me wrong—I was certainly grateful for the work, but having a specific vision from the onset of your career is important for two reasons. For one, it allows you to focus on your design specialty early in the game. Granted, you won’t be hired as an Art Director right off the bat, but you will be in your specialty track, working your way up from the ground floor. Second, it enables you to filter out undesirable jobs and not be tempted to take the next best thing. This course of action assumes you can wait a little longer to pay off those student loans or debt.

Looking for a design gig? Check out our job board to see who’s hiring creatives!

GraphicDesignCareer[2Find Your Niche

Now that you’ve elected to find a niche, how do you determine what your specialty should be? For starters, try a little of everything! In my case, I graduated from print to digital design, but that took a few years. If you don’t have a strong client base, offer your services to people for free: try your hand at logo design, make a business card for that mom and pop business down the street. Also, charity organizations are always looking for help. Most importantly, talk to other designers. You will undoubtedly find your niche.

While you’re finding your design niche, ask yourself what type of company you want to work for—if any. Do you prefer a large corporation where everything is established and methods are in place, or would you prefer to be part of a a boutique agency? Or do you think you’d rather join a startup where the work is fast-paced, but more creative as a whole? That’s why going in as an intern is invaluable because you get to see the operation first-hand—and if you do find out you like, you have possibility for employment in the future.

So to all the future designers, get out there and find your niche! I know you will be successful. Share your experiences in the comments section and let us how your career got started.

Drew Rattray is a freelance visual designer and blogger. He loves helping inspiring designers. He helps small businesses maximize their brand potential.

S6785Are you pursuing a graphic design career? Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer is your single source guide to the many, many options available to you. With a focus on portfolio requirements, job opportunities, inspiration, career options and more, this book will help you start your graphic design career. Interviews with leading designers like Michael Bierut, Stefan Sagmeister, and Mirko Ilic give readers an insider’s perspective on career trajectory and a glimpse into everyday operations and inspirations at a variety of companies and firms.

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