A recent HS grad is interested in graphic design

My aunt knows a young person who has graduated from HS and is interested in graphic design. What resources would you recommend to them to learn more about the profession and the various work settings and types of work?

What is a good place to start online for someone to learn if this field is something they would be interested in pursuing?

What’s ‘HS’? Why abbreviate the key term to your query?

What type of graphic design, it’s broad range within graphic design?

High School :wink: It’s a common way to describe it over here.

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I attend Los Angelos Film School. They had a great program for Graphic Design.

A good degree from a good, accredited university – not an online private school. It is the best way to actually learn what they need to know to ensure they don’t end up with thousands of wannabes on the NO pile when it comes to getting a job, in order to get crucial, real-world experience.

They need to do a thorough investigation of the particular field of graphic design they want to get into, make sure that they get the education to make that possible at a level to earn enough of a living to eat, and determine if any student debt accrued can be applied to a Return on Investment. Often that is not an online school and certainly not the university of “I learned it on YouTube.”

In the US, entry level is at least a 4-year degree and 2 years of experience. Crowdsource and reverse auction sites don’t count.

If someone’s kid asked me about becoming a generic graphic designer, I’d ask them what other options they explored. Cuz this field is is toast. You have to aim really high, be really dedicated and be really good.

You want a school that requires portfolio reviews on entry and on graduation. A school that assists with acquiring meaningful internships for their students, and don’t wait until senior year to do those. You want to get your 2 years of experience while still in school. Get a part time job if possible. Student ‘freelance’ doesn’t count. Meaningful experience. Always keep it meaningful.

AIGA published a book on careers in graphic design.

I tend to agree, this applies for the lower end of the market. Saturated by the uneducated. Prices driven through the floor by those sites and the nephew of a mate who’ll do it for £50. ‘He’s good at art’!!

I think the top end, as you say, is still vibrant and active, but, you’re right, you have to be dedicated and have talent, knowledge and ability. That has never been different though. You’ve always had to fight to get a seat at the table.

Good design has always needed good clients and good clients will always need good designers, who can help them build their businesses or organisations with strategic solutions to problems.

This is exactly why you need the foundation of a good degree from a real university, not one that you get a place on just because you can pay the tuition fee. As you say, one that you get in on, on merit.

I go back a bit further than most here.

I remember what graphic design was about in the mid-'70s. There were no computers and no do-it-yourself solutions for average business owners who had no idea how to use our tools. When they needed something printed, they described what they needed to a local printer, then the printer — rarely with any design training — would do his best.

Trained graphic designers (commercial artists) had been around at design studios and ad agencies in big cities for years, but they were fewer and much further between than today. Most of the time, we were regarded as an extravagance, people that bigger companies hired, and ad agencies used to help make their services more appealing to consumers.

With the Macintosh, desktop publishing began to take off in the mid-1980s, and it gradually changed everything. Suddenly, graphic designers with computer skills were in high demand. When the internet and digital cameras came along, they changed things again. Relatively cheap digital printing changed it even further.

Over the course of a few years, the profession expanded as every business owner needed their promotional materials to look as good as their competitors’ materials. In other words, there became a vibrant lower- and mid-range demand for the work that hadn’t existed before.

In some ways, the field is going full circle, the mid- and lower-range clients are moving to even cheaper overseas work or using do-it-yourself, template-based online solutions, which for them, work fine. The printers take their work, fix it as needed, and print it.

As was the case since sometime in the 1950s, higher-end clients with bigger budgets will still need custom solutions. They’re not going to spend a million dollars on a promotional campaign, then have an administrative assistant put something together using Canva.

Unfortunately, this change will leave the majority of graphic designers, who are still entering the field in record numbers, without work or working for meager wages doing odds and ends.

I got into the field at the right time, rode the wave for a few decades, and will be leaving it at just the right time too. I suppose I’ve been lucky, but I can’t help feeling a bit sad about the whole thing.

Although I am probably a decade or so later than you, like you, I am very conscious that I worked in the heyday of the industry and am very grateful for it. My first year or in the industry still involved casting off and galleys, but very quickly the Mac took over. I was lucky enough to be working in design agencies in London in the late 80s and 90s. An absolutely fantastic time to be out playing.

Today it is less glamourous, but, as you say, things have come full circle and probably the areas where designers worked in the 70s and 80s remains untouched. The end result is that the low and mid ground is saturated with huge amounts of badly designed visual noise, which muddies the waters and adds nothing to society. Good design still stands out, but it just has to fight that bit harder to be seen.

I am slightly more positive about the future of the industry, in that, I think that, due to the fact there is no money to be made making £50 logos for unsuspectingly ignorant clients, the over saturation of kids wanting to be designers ‘cos it’s sick’, but not wanting to put the effort in, will drop off. This will mean that the only people entering the field will be those with real talent, educated in real universities, thus raising the general level of design again.

Going forward, I think cheap clients will still do it themselves on canva, the same way they used to go to the printer and describe what they want. However, when all the flotsam and jetsam disappears, the cheap clients work will be more exposed as ineffectual.

We can but hope!

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All this assumes this particular student wants to be a ‘generic’ graphic designer that works on ad campaigns and print. There are tech positions available, coding required. There are more UI/UX type jobs. There are even some in the 3D/VR realm but you have to be gooooood. And fast! Industrial Design is an option as well. But if someone wants to be a designer to “do logos” or “design record album covers” or because they’re “good at Art,” I’d sincerely suggest having a second job that pays the bills.

Graphic Design is not about Art. It’s about communication. And sometimes, what’s needed to communicate a client’s message to a client’s customers, whoever they may be, may not quite fit into the designer’s style of Art. Art is involved, but it isn’t the driver of a successful design career. A successfull design career is all about improving the client’s bottom line through communication, usually in some measurable, statistical fashion. More money, more traffic, more exposure… If this student is going for the Art, do Art as a hobby and find something else to pay the bills.

The title of this post also says “Recent HS grad.” Was this a sudden decision? What has this student been doing the last couple years of high school? Was there no guidance or resources available to a HS senior before they left school? While it’s still possible to go back and avail oneself of HS resources, it’s a little more difficult after graduation.

Is this really about a young person your aunt knows?

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Aw, you don’t think they might come back and post an online resource or something that purports to teach Graphic Design do you? :wink: