Career change

Hi all,
Apologies in advance if the information below is all over the place and long as I am not really best person when it comes to articulating my thoughts.
I recently turned 24 years old and am currently working as a service desk analyst in an IT company here in the UK. I started as an apprentice in 2017 and completed it in the end of 2019. I received an increase in salary shortly after the completion of my apprenticeship.
Over the years, graphic design is (and has always been) still something that I have contemplated considering going into. Back in 2014 and 2015, I did a graphic design course in college however I did not really learn the skills to use the software that I hoped therefore my work by the end of term in 2014 was I would say mediocre. It was only after the end of term that I taught myself how to use Illustrator which is the first program, PhotoShop, a little bit of InDesign and After Effects in the space of 2 months because I really wanted to make significant progress in the second year of my graphic design course. I have always had a keen interest in art, mainly drawing and painting (watercolours) since a young child.
This is the part where I feel I am going to push the blame on somebody else because although this ability of mine was noticed by my parents, they did not really approve of it and they still do not now. Because of this, they (mainly by father) are pushing me to They are always sceptical wanting to know what I get up to in my spare time and whether I am studying an IT course to “get ahead” and all that but I say nothing because I don’t want to have that awkward and difficult conversation. The really weird bit is that I am currently not happy in this current field (i.e. IT) simply because I have no passion for it and I never did. Although the money is great, the job simply serves as a money-making past time if that makes sense. Since leaving college for about 5 years, I have been very miserable being very perplexed because it is apparent to me that I am only doing this IT job to please my parents basically.
Long story short, I have not come here because I see graphic design with rose-coloured glasses as this picture-perfect career because that is a very superficial view as everybody knows. Through research and intuition, I already know that graphic design is a very competitive industry therefore I guess I need a focused and strong help on knowing this industry? The pitfalls and the challenges? Rather than the “do’s”, I want to know the “don’ts”? Do I have to be qualified (i.e. have a degree)?
I do not really want to go to university. For the last few months, I have been trying to seek apprenticeship opportunities in my local area as well. I emailed a couple of graphic design companies (surprised myself to know that there were quite a few!) directly enquiring if they had such opportunities.
Any feedback (positive or even negative) would be appreciated.

You’re in the UK, which is a little different from here in the US, but not all that different in many ways. Maybe some of our UK forum members can speak to that.

Anyway, here in the U.S., the whole field of graphic design is oversaturated with people who think being a graphic designer would be fun. Unfortunately, the glut of new designers, for-profit colleges, crowdsourcing and competition from do-it-yourself websites have reduced both wages and employment opportunities. In other words, it’s difficult starting out in this field and you’d be unlikely to make the money you’re making in IT.

As for interference from your parents, well, at 24 years old, you’re an adult and get to make your own decisions. I’m sure your parents mean well, but honestly, tell them to mind their own business (respectfully, of course).

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First off, at 24, nothing is set in stone as you are really just on the onsets of your career development, and it’s actually a perfect time to try out new and daring things. In fact, I would argue that employers will appreciate a broader set of skills and experience from the 30-year-old you, no matter what field you eventually end up in (even if you go back into IT).

Secondly, I think in order to find a new challenge that also gives you the blessing of your dad (which seems important to you), you might consider a digital design field (e.g. app or web design). This way you do not completely leave the IT field behind, and due to your already aquired IT skills your learning curve might also not be as steep, so you can get to a professional level faster.

Does your current company have a design department? Perhaps you could split your time seeing as they already know what a great employee they have in you. I worked in the restaurant industry for ages and started doing some simple design work for them like ads, in-store posters & signage.

Don’t let others discourage you. I remember when I started out some told me that “everyone will be able to design right at their desktops”. I laugh now because the same could be said for doctors with all those who have googled symptoms :slight_smile:

The only way you’ll know for sure if it’s for you is to go for it. I would start working on a portfolio to show potential employers and clients your work. It will likely be a slow start until you build up some great work and can land a studio job OR build up enough freelance clients to sustain you.

I would like to add though that Graphic Design is much more than learning software and being artistic. To become an accomplished designer, you need to communicate the message! And with that, there will always be pitfalls and challenges… from crazy deadlines, to dealing with clients to printing disasters… just read the forums here and you’ll get a sense.

If your parents or others ask you what you get up to in your spare time, be honest… like B said, you’re an adult.

Does your current company have a design department? Perhaps you could split your time seeing as they already know what a great employee they have in you. I worked in the restaurant industry for ages and started doing some simple design work for them like ads, in-store posters & signage.

Interesting question. Never thought of looking into this. My answer would be probably not. I do have a colleague who asked me if I could design a logo for him so am currently working on it but it isn’t really major or urgently required.

I remember when I started out some told me that “everyone will be able to design right at their desktops”. I laugh now because the same could be said for doctors with all those who have googled symptoms :slight_smile:

Thought-provoking statements. :slight_smile:

The only way you’ll know for sure if it’s for you is to go for it. I would start working on a portfolio to show potential employers and clients your work. It will likely be a slow start until you build up some great work and can land a studio job OR build up enough freelance clients to sustain you

This is a very dumb question but how I do build a portfolio or what would I need to have in a portfolio (a slightly better question I think)? This is the biggest area I struggle with. As someone who is very fearful of failing, the idea of “just go for it” is petrifying and I know that this is adamantly the biggest obstacle.

Don’t look to your job as a source for personal fulfillment, enjoyment, happiness, spiritual enlightenment, etc. Pursue those things in your personal time through your hobbies and interests. Read books, go to the movies, visit museums, learn to draw and paint, join a religion, join a gym, volunteer at a charity… Jobs are about making money. The more compensation you get at your job, the more time and money you have to pursue the happiness/fulfillment things in your leisure time, where you are really able to enjoy them. Don’t try to mix business and pleasure. It contaminates them both.

People have the misconception that they get to express themselves in graphic design. Creative arts are more suited to that. Graphic design is a factory where you are churning out product on deadlines, and people are constantly sabotaging your work. And in the U.S., at least, it’s a very bleak career future. Make sure you know what you are really getting into.

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Well sounds to me like you are your first client.
Think about who you are trying to attract and what you want to tell them about you. What would an employer or client want from a graphic designer? If you were hiring a Graphic Designer, what would you look for?

I guess I don’t really understand why trying something new is petrifying? I certainly wouldn’t quit your job and look for a new full-time designer job just yet. You likely wouldn’t get very far without any experience.

I suggest you explore it in a part-time/side-gig sort of way. For example your colleague wants you to design a logo for him, so once that’s done, maybe you add business cards, a brochure, website and/or signage. You don’t have to do it for him necessarily, at this stage it’s more important for you to build a “portfolio”. You found him so find more projects or at the very least “assign” yourself some projects.

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