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  • Can I be a graphic designer?

    Hi, just look looking for a heads up about trying to get a graphic design position. I have a lot of problems with my work history and work experience to consider and I want to feedback as far as how to approach interviews or whether or not I even have a chance.

    Here's my story:

    I'm currently 28 living on disability with my brother who is an electrical engineer for the Navy. I have a mental illness called schizoaffective disorder. My main symptoms are major depression, confusion, hypervigilance, and paranoia. I do not hallucinate. I was officially diagnosed in late 2014, but I had been dealing with symptoms of it without help since I around 2008. I managed to graduate from the University of California Santa Barbara with a BA in Political Science. I was using drugs to cope with my condition the whole time. I was able function well enough that people didn't notice these seriousness of my symptoms and when they did, they didn't see that I needed help (go figure). Anyways, I graduated in 2011, got a job, was fired then completely stopped drug use in 2012. My plan was to teach abroad, but I realized I was doomed to self-destruct there so I sought help. I got clean and went through a terrible period of self-isolation for years. As I said, I was diagnosed in 2014. I eventually found a great doctor who set me on the right path and the correct medicine. I progressed a lot, but still had terrible issues with family and couldn't support myself. In 2016 I moved to a new city with my brother to get away from the toxic environment. It has really helped. I've been symptom free for half a 8 months to a year. I'm very stubborn and I have not given up on the idea of me supporting myself, but more importantly I want to do so through art. Unfortunately, my work history gap is a huge obstacle now that I think I can really handle a job. I have taken classes in GD and I always drew a lot. I know I want to do something with in that area, but I'm not sure if the employment barriers I see for myself can be overcome. I attached some sample drawings/work or Here's my FB art page to see my stuff..

    Do I have any chance? I'm willing to work hard for it. I don't mind not making a lot of money. I'm willing to go back to school, but not confident I'd be able to pay for it. Also, my local community colleges have very little to offer for graphic design. I need direction.

    Thanks for any help,

    Matty
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Hi A-ha87 and welcome to GDF.

    We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
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    • #3
      That sounds like a lot to go through over the years.

      Unfortunately, I don't think you have much of a chance to be a professional graphic designer because you do not have a graphic design degree. Your drawings are nice, but graphic design is much more than drawing. It's understanding how elements interact with one another to solve a problem. You wouldn't be able to be a nurse if you didn't go to nursing school; graphic design should be viewed in a similar way.

      However, you may be able to find some work as an admin or assistant that will allow you to do some in-house designs; I would look for that to begin with.

      Good luck on your journey.

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      • #4
        If you are in the US, and your employment gap was due to illness, all you have to say is ''it was due to illness.'' And perhaps have some kind of medical note to back that up. An employer in the US can't ask any more questions due to HIPPA and should accept that. The first assumption anyone makes when a gap = years is that you were in jail. You can put that concern to rest pretty easily and without having to elaborate too far on your illness.

        The other part of the equation is be very certain about what any kind of employment will do to your disability benefit. Be sure you feel secure about that move.

        On the schooling part check with your benefits office. Sometimes there is an option for subsidy toward gaining a new skill set in order to become employable.

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        • #5
          Hi Matty,

          Your sketching skills are really good and I believe there are many options through which you can earn a decent income through your art. For a start, you could
          A) start offering your sketching services through micro-job sites like Fiverr.
          This will help you in
          1) getting an idea of how good you are at understanding your client's requirements when it comes to delivering an artwork that THEY desire, as opposed to what we would usually sketch out when it is just a hobby. This experience of clarity in communication with the client will come in really handy at all times. And since you will be mostly starting out with small gigs, the risk for your client is also less(in case they aren't very satisfied with the end result). In due course of time, your skill to translate a design brief into an artwork will improve.
          2) Doing gigs on a continuous basis (irrespective of how little or lot it pays you) will naturally improve your sketching skills and your ideas of balance, composition, color, proportions etc will become better, which will help you when you venture into graphic design (GD is much more than this, but all of this helps).

          B) offer your sketches on print-on-demand websites like Redbubble, Society6 etc. All you have to do is upload high quality scans of your artworks on these websites and it will be available for people as art prints or on a variety of different products ranging from apparel to home decor. Of course the competition is huge and it takes much more than just uploading the artworks to start earning money from these POD sites ( marketing and promotions play a huge role in getting your artworks seen and this can take up a lot of time and effort ) . But we all have to start sometime, so why not now, right?

          C) you could also offer sketching services on ETSY. If you are good at sketching from photographs, there are many people out there who would like hand-drawn sketches of their family, friends or pets and are ready to pay you anywhere between $30-$100 for sketches (Of course there are artists who charge much more, but it is always better to start small and then charge more only after you have a proven record of scores of satisfied customers)

          Graphic Design is a very vast field and while you hone your skills in sketching, you can start learning the elements of GD from tutorials online. Learn a little each day and in an year you would have reached much ahead of where you are at now. A formal university training always helps, however, there are tons of short-term courses on websites like Coursera, taught by designers with years of experience - all of this for free!!
          Start taking such courses and very soon you will get an idea as to what aspects of GD you are good at and where you need improvement.
          You are very brave to have come this far and I'm sure that you can go much further - persistence is the key.

          Good luck
          Jith

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jyothi View Post
            ...you can earn a decent income through your art. For a start, you could start offering your sketching services through micro-job sites like Fiverr. This will help you in 1) getting an idea of how good you are at understanding your client's requirements when it comes to delivering an artwork that THEY desire, as opposed to what we would usually sketch out when it is just a hobby. This experience of clarity in communication with the client will come in really handy at all times.
            You appear to be serious, so I'll give you my take on part of what you've written. The chances of making a "decent income" on sites, like the one you mentioned, are all but non-existent. The so-called clients who use these sites are naive bottom feeders who actually expect to get something for practically nothing. More often than not, they just view the, um, "designer" as a pair of hands with a computer who'll kick out what's been ordered (which isn't design -- it's the equivalent of a short-order cook).

            Making a decent living at design means working with decent clients in a decent, mutually beneficial business relationship with lots of back-and-forth communication, respect and the exchange of hundreds and thousands of dollars -- not the pocket change one can make on a scam site, like Fiverr. Aside from pocket change, the only other things a designer wannabe will pick up from that place and working with those kinds of clients under those kinds of circumstances, are a whole bunch of very bad habits.

            Sorry for the argument to your first post, but if someone wants to be more than an amateur hobbyist, the route you've laid out is unlikely to be a good path in getting there.

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