I’ve had a few people ask me recently how I got started with graphic design and how they can get started in the field, and I usually give them the same response; fake it until you make it.
I started designing graphics when I was in high school; and I was god-awful at it. One of my first projects was designing a new header for my school’s blog; which has now since been dismantled.
Editor’s note: I tried desperately to find the blog, but unfortunately none of the styling or header images were saved by wayback machine. I did however find this wonderful photo of my Grade 11 law class – please enjoy it instead.
My original header wasn’t pretty, and neither was any of the stuff I did for the next few years after. I eventually got really good at photoshop – or what I considered to be good at the time. A few friends and I passed the time by photoshopping ourselves into various places around the world (little did I know I’d visit all of them and more a few short years later).
I started getting more and more creative with designs, branching out from simple things to logos, posters, and print materials – but I made plenty of mistakes along the way. I still cringe at the memories of using Photoshop to design brochures (you should use Indesign) and struggling to do even the simplest tasks in Illustrator (in my defence, it’s got a steep learning curve).
Eventually, some of the stuff I was designing started to look good to me, and I got confirmation from others that they thought it was looking good too. I enrolled in some online classes in colour theory and typography, was offered a role as a Junior Graphic Designer with my university, and it all took off from there. I started taking on more and more freelance clients, and that’s basically where I’m at today.
The point I’m trying to get across is that if you want to get started with graphic design, just do it, and be prepared to make a lot of mistakes. You’re likely not going to make something that looks amazing over night, and you’re going to face a lot of criticism (a lot from yourself too), but eventually you’ll learn, and get better. If you can’t afford the software (The Adobe Suite seems to be the gold standard of the design world currently) I’d recommend visiting a library or a school; they keep up to date copies on their computers that you can use for free! Actually, visit the library or school before you buy the software to see if it’s for you – Adobe is expensive.
I’m now just getting started with more advanced web design, and am basically following the same road I originally did with graphic design; hopefully I’ll make less mistakes this time.