What is graphic design?
In its most basic form, graphic design is visual communication. It involves the art of photography, illustration and typography to communicate a message, idea or identity. Everything starting from a logo to the format of this newspaper page you're reading involves graphic design.
What educational background does one require to learn this skill?
As long as you have a basic understanding of computer graphics and design software, along with problem solving and communication skills, graphic design is not rocket science. But of course, the unique element that degrees cannot teach you is creativity, which is perhaps the most crucial ladder that helps you climb up the levels of graphic design.
How does one get started?
There are numerous websites, tutorials and books one can access, not only to learn the basics, but to gain expertise as well. There are many YouTube channels and playlists for beginner level Photoshop, Illustrator, and in fact any other software related to graphic design. Some even come with practice templates, for example TastyTuts Creative Tutorials by Gareth David.
If one is more interested in certified online courses, Udacity, Pluralsight, Lynda and Coursera offer theoretical as well as practical project-based courses. Even though all of these are not available for free, one can always apply for financial aid (if available) to study the paid ones.
However, learning the tools and skills is not the same as being a good graphic designer. Tabriz Haidary, who is a self-taught photographer and graphic designer currently working at Business Development and Communication, MIB Spirit Ltd, remarks, “There is this creative gap people tend to ignore. Just because you have watched and mastered numerous tutorials, it does not make you a very creative person—although it might make you very skilled. So practicing creativity is the key here.”
What tools/software do you need to get started and how long does it take to master the basics?
There is a massive range of software out there that one can use to learn graphic design. Paid packages include software like Photoshop and Illustrator from Adobe and CorelDRAW from Corel. On the free end, there is Gimp and Inkscape. However, Photoshop and Illustrator are often mandatory skills required if one is to get hired for agencies or companies, so it is suggested one master these at one point.
The learning curve tends to vary based on the technical familiarity, curiosity, and capability but a beginner can take around 15 days to understand the complete basics. However, becoming an expert requires months of practice, observation and resilience. Just like art, one can never know enough when it comes to graphic design!
What are the career prospects and demand of graphic designers in the job market?
Graphic design will forever be in high global demand for marketing, interactive media, newspapers, promotional displays, and so on. Based on one's skills, there is a range of options one can pursue in this field. Editorial design, web/mobile design, illustration, 3D design/animation, corporate design (the official graphical design of a company's logo), and blogging are only a few branches.
There are freelance contracts, paid contracts and all sorts of opportunities. Akif Mustafa Khan, Content Manager of Analyzen Bangladesh states, “Sometimes it is as easy as tapping a button, sometimes it takes a little more effort. But an average designer earns the more they work, so it is more about the level of commitment than fixed salaries.”
For those who enjoy it, graphic design is an art form. So what are you waiting for? Get started on your creative magic!
The writer is a sophomore at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka