This article comes with a warning: easily offended graphic designers please do not read on!
Graphic design is not rocket science, nor does it depend on artistic talent – it just takes a lot of practice.
Some designers love to say that graphic design is a God-given talent that only a select few special people can have. Others will say that you also need an art college education. I say you need time and application – something we all have.
They are very angry about people who, with some knowledge of graphics programs and web promotion, can advertise themselves and do business as web designers without any training. I’m not. I say more power to them.
So what if some developers with limited design experience make some dreadful websites? They are only learning from mistakes that other “designers” did invisibly in college.
Let’s start with a definition:
What is graphic design?
Graphic design is usually described as visual communication of graphic elements and text to represent an idea or concept. A graphic designer improves the conversation between the client and the customers. A person who can combine the left brain thinking of the corporate world with right brain creativity.
So maybe somebody that is tremendously talented in the creative arts will be best suited to becoming an artist rather than a graphic designer.
Compromise and communication
Some graphic designers continuously complain that their clients don’t appreciate their designs. A good graphic designer will listen to the client in order to understand the market.
There may be differences between the designer and the client about how to communicate the message. This is where experience comes to the fore: How do you square the circle between a client’s instinct to hard sell and the designer’s need to simplify the narrative to the end user? No amount of talent nor hours in the classroom is going to help you with this one.
So, how do you learn graphic design?
Just do it!
I have laid out what you need to be a graphic designer in terms of software, hardware and resources. But the most important thing is yourself and your network.
You have your family, friends, colleagues, and, of course nowadays, an online army of people who can help you in forums, groups and social media. Show your work to the world and invite feedback (a thick skin is needed). Ask people how to do things. See what others are doing. Watch. Learn. Adapt. Above all else, keep an open mind.
There is a tendency for some old school designers to sit back, congratulating themselves on their god-given talent which impedes their development in the newest areas of the industry and damages their relationships with clients.
Design doesn’t sit still. There are new areas of expression, new trends and new designers coming along everyday. People without a design background can learn design and find new ways of expression. I believe this has happened in the last few years with web design standards being set by people with all sorts of backgrounds – and all sorts of talents.
I would never discourage anyone from becoming a designer due to a perceived lack of “talent”. Who defines the word “talent” in design? Specifically the people who will benefit from the exclusivity of the profession. And what are you referring to when you say talent? The talent of dealing with clients? The talent to understand a brief? The artistic talent? This term is so subjective that an attempt to define it only hinders creativity.
So, don’t worry about your talent – worry about getting work!