[Potentially NSFW] Interested in Graphic Design

Hello everyone. For most of my childhood and teenage years, I was into drawing, digital painting, and animation. However for about 5 years, I have not been very engaged with these interests beyond making a few sketches every now and then. I recently graduated from university with a STEM degree, but I decided that I would like to continue with a career in the arts.

I chose graphic design because it seems to combine a myriad of creative disciplines I enjoy and applies in them in a commercial setting, and thus will provide me with the best career prospects.

Here’s a couple of (rough and complete) digital paintings I made in the past. (Warning: although none of them are nude or sexual in nature in accordance with the forum rules, the subject depicted in one of them is showing a lot of skin, just in case this would be an issue for anyone).

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fronkstudy

Your art is nice. It’s technically clean but nothing extraordinary considering all the art that’s out there. But it’s just that. It’s art. It isn’t graphic design.

Here is a thing that most students of graphic design don’t find out until it’s too late.

GRAPHIC DESIGN IS NOT ABOUT YOUR ART!
It’s about selling the client’s message in a way that engages with the client’s demographic audience.

If your art style is painterly water color kittens but the client is a heavy death metal band, guess what? You don’t get to follow your artist heart desire. You have to change your style to match the message.

It irks me that kids are allowed to go all through a 4-year design program self-selecting projects and coming up with content that satisfies their artistic side, when the real world couldn’t be further from the truth. In the real design world, you are given design briefs, you are given parameters within which to work, and while you might get a chance to experiment, if you fail, so does your client. And if the client loses money, depending on how much they lost, they could come back at you, if you made any promises that this direction or that would work for them. That’s what being a professional is all about.

Sooooo…you might want to think again about where you can go with that STEM curriculum. There are other creative outlets out there beyond graphic design. Some of them even pay better and have more job opportunities.

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My advice would be similar to @PrintDriver’s. I am at an age where my kids and a lot of my friend’s kids are graduating from college, in their early to mid-twenties, and/or are starting their careers. The kids that get degrees in STEM related fields — specifically engineering — are moving from college right into good paying jobs with respectable companies and have room for growth. Unfortunately, the graphic design field — largely due to its low threshold for entry — is flooded. If you were one of my kids, I’d encourage you to pursue a career path in a STEM field and let painting be your creative outlet or side hustle.

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I agree with PrintDriver and Steve_O.

Years ago, I faced much the same decision as you. For two years, I was a physics major. As electives, to fill up my schedule, I took an art class and loved it. I took a graphic design class and loved it even more.

Instead of schoolwork consisting of memorizing stuff (like in my science classes), my homework consisted of creating things, which was a whole lot more fun.

I switched majors and never looked back. I’m also (mostly) glad I did it.

However, after graduation, it was tough. The pay was low, and the job security was non-existent. After about ten years, as I worked my way up while watching everyone else drop out and find other jobs, the pay finally started being OK. Even so, it still wasn’t anywhere near as much as I might have made had I stuck with the STEM route.

I’ve had a forty-year career in this field, and once I got established, it was good — sometimes terrific. Today, the field is oversaturated with design graduates and facing competition from ultra-cheap crowdsourcing and online do-it-yourself design services. The field is in something of a state of change (or chaos) right now.

The chances of making a go of it aren’t in your favor. Your artwork is nice and shows lots of artistic talent (seriously, it does), but it’s not graphic design, and many artists can’t make the transition from art to design. They’re similar in some ways, but very different in others.

If you’re stubborn like me, and if you refuse to listen to reason, like me, and are just dead-set on pursuing graphic design (like I was), I certainly understand. If you’re dead set on it, great. I wish you the best of luck. With enough dedication and work, you just might make it, and it will definitely take those qualities to pull it off. If you’re wavering at all, though, stick with the STEM thing and look forward to making some money.

I live in the U.S. Where you live, things might be different.

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@Steve_O @Just-B @PrintDriver

I very much appreciate the advice you’ve all given me, and it is getting me to think twice about my decisions. Thank you all.

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