In need of some career advice

Hello everyone!

I’m a fresh graduate, trying to figure out what design path to walk on. I’d really, really appreciate any input on my questions below (you don’t have to answer them all).

  1. Can one make a living solely out of logo design? Or is that usually a part of creating full visual IDs?
  2. Can one enter the UX/UI industry without knowing programming? And in UX/UI, do you mostly design or mostly troubleshoot?
  3. Can one make a living out of cover design? How competitive a field do you think it is?
  4. If you’re a freelancer, do you work mostly with online commissions or with people you know?
  5. Which is the least, and the most, fast-paced job you’ve worked on so far?
  6. Is there a learning subject, which you studied outside design school, that proved to be valuable in your design life? (E.g. designer biographies, or advanced lettering)
  7. What has worked best for you personally, being versatile or being a specialist on a single subject?

Thank you in advance!

First, just general advice… spend at least several years working in someone else’s business (preferably design) before attempting freelance full time. Self-employment requires a lot of time on non-design tasks, so that aspect will hinder your development as a designer.

People I know, and their professional peers. I have a niche clientele.

Education… instructional design, theories of teaching, how people learn, why people forget.

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It’s doubtful. It’s starting to seem like most logos are one-off things done for $50 on crowdsourcing sites. The exception to this being companies with money that know what they’re doing and want more than just a logo.

Yes, but it really helps to know enough about what’s possible and efficient to do with code. Some things that look easy might take hundreds of hours to code. A small bit of nothing all that important tossed into a UI design might present a major challenge to a coder or developer (not to mention an unnecessary expense). You need to know enough about it to design intelligently. Also keep in mind, that not having coding skills puts you in a disadvantageous head-to-head competition with those who do. UX/UI designer aren’t so much troubleshooters — they’re the ones who cause the headaches for the coders, programmers and developers who end up doing the troubleshooting.

Covers of what? Books? Magazines? Music CDs? Instruction manuals. In all those case, my answer is about the same as my answer about logo designs — probably not.

I worked for a daily newspaper where there were literally deadlines that needed to be adhered to without so much as being a minute late without incurring thousands of dollars in per-minute charges. I also worked for a government agency at one time where the pace of the work was like that of a slow-moving glacier. Oddly enough, the newspaper job was by far the less stressful and most enjoyable of the two. Ad agency jobs I’ve had have been quite irregularly fast paced when a million things need to be done before a fast-approaching deadline. Other times, it can be slow, but then the rumors start to spread of not enough business to keep everyone busy, which is even worse.

I can’t think of a single subject I ever took that hasn’t been important in my work. Design involves curiosity, critical thinking and striving to outdo oneself in moving things further down, which is pretty much synonymous with an insatiable hunger for learning.

Personally? Being versatile. I’ve been in this field for, um, 40 years now. In that time, the field has completely changed at least three times. Not being versatile, flexible and eager to embrace what’s new would have left me at multiple dead ends. I’ve seen it happen to others time and time again.

That said, there are benefits to also specializing. Specialists have a higher chance of landing those higher-paying jobs and clients that need those hard-to-find specialists. Even so, it’s important not to get so focused on one thing that when the situation chances you don’t find yourself stranding on a road with no avenues back to the main highway.

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Logos-only and book covers?
Aim higher if you want to eat regularly.
Much higher

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Many thanks to everyone for your answers! You are really helpful.

So I can make a rough start with no coding, and learn coding gradually? If yes, it’s perfect!

Good question. Mostly books, but I like publication stuff in general. I’ve created some book covers and in-book illustrations. Also a few scientific illustrations and sight gags for articles. I tend to draw audience around applied illustration: entry-level fantasy art, buttons for an online game, illustration-centered logos e.t.c. Still, it’s occasional gigs only. And very diverse, so my portfolio barely holds onto visual unity. I’m hoping to figure out a more solid path, so that I can properly promote myself, but it’s hard.

That, I did not expect! Food for thought. Thank you.

A great principle to live by. I’ve grown so anxious to promote myself, that I completely forgot about the restless curiosity that carried me where I am. No wonder I felt so blocked lately. Thank you for the wisdom.

A million thanks for your answers, Just-B. They mean a lot.

If only I had figured out what “much higher” looks like :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s a positive. Your portfolio should exhibit your versatility, the ability to shift gears and design to meet client needs effectively. That, as opposed to presenting a personal style. A portfolio that showcases a particular style may expose you as self indulgent, or art-minded.

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