Secondary Skills

Does anyone have any secondary skills that you use in your graphic design career that you think are valuable to know? ie: Photography, Handlettering, Coding, etc…?
And in what context do you use it?

Strong coding capabilities and to a lesser extent, illustration.

Communication skills – being able to discuss your ideas, being able to “guide” and advise clients (both internal and external), being able to intelligently explain your design choices and decisions, etc.

Sketching – being able to quickly communicate a concept through a sketch, or working through a concept and determining the best approach through good old pencil and paper (pen and paper, crayon and paper, etc.) are extremely useful

Coding – Getting an understanding or even mastering one or more coding languages will certainly be useful. Of course there are hundreds of languages, and it really all is determined by what area of design you’re focusing on, whether it be HTML, CSS, Ruby on Rails, Java, etc.

Photography/Illustration – Once again, it is dependent on what you want to focus on. I do think having a good fundamental understanding of illustration and photography would help, but it’s not necessary to be an expert at either unless that is something you want to include in your skillset.

Time management/Product Management – I see this as a necessity. If you can’t manage your projects or your time you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot.

I could go on and on. Business? Finance? Silkscreening? File Prep?

Print production equipment operation and maintenance.
Pre-press and production art.

Several years ago, I started to teach myself photography – manual exposures, depth of field, impact of focal length, lighting, off camera flash, color, composition, etc. It’s to the point now that I have a functional photo studio (albeit a small one) in my basement. All of the gear that I’ve bought has paid for itself. I don’t sell myself as a photographer. But if I’m working on a project and the client needs a head shot or a product shot or whatever, I can let them know that’s something I can help them with. The rub with this skill, is that everyone is a photographer these days. And, no, the irony of that is not lost on me.

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You’re thinking those are secondary skills? There are no secondary skills any longer. Judging from job announcement trends over the past several years, designers are expected to be able to do everything.

Video shooting and editing, copywriting and editing, photography, web design and coding (both front and backend), flying drones, marketing, public relations, project management, illustration, motion graphics, presentation software, brand development, data visualization, and it goes on and on and on from there. Required abilities and skill levels keep going up. Wages keep going down.

I’m not kidding about this either.

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this is madness! I don’t understand how people do it! :dizzy_face:

that is awesome! I took a photography class, and I really like it. however more so as a hobby. That would be amazing to have a running studio for side projects.

  1. It’s super convenient when I need a photo of something to be able to run downstairs and take it rather than sending it to a photographer and waiting a couple of days – or up to a week – to get it back. Also, that adds a lot of value in services offered to the clients.

  2. It helps me justify spending the $$$ on the gear.

The true end-game of a graphic design career isn’t graphic design, it’s owning your own design agency (or beyond). The more you know, the more services you can potentially offer. So try to be a sponge for everything…

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Photography was a hobby that I’ve turned into a side hustle. Photography can turn out to be an expensive hobby though so it’s important to charge correctly. You’re not just paying for your time, but also the equipment.

I’m interested in calligraphy and lettering. It’s helped me a lot this week since I’ve been working on a signature-inspired logo.

Turning hobbies or personal interested into another professional skill is useful to have but make sure you’re doing it because you enjoy it!

I used to illustrate a bit but my husband is a killer illustrator so I tend to just hand over any illustration work to him now.

Marketing. Understanding that your job as a designer is to help your client connect with their customers, so they make more money.

Your design skills, secondary or not, should help you accomplish that.

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I’ve taken up portrait photography, website design (using website builders) and I’ve done video projects for my church (like camp or vbs highlights). I do graphics full time so those other 3 skills are great ways to switch things up a little and help keep my creative brain juices flowing. I’ve also always found it fun to learn my way around new programs such as Lightroom for photography, Wix website platforms and Sony Vegas for video.

I would definitely recommend portrait photography for anyone. I find it really fun to meet new clients for pictures that they’ll share with everyone. It can also have a quicker turnaround and once the project is done, it’s DONE. We all know those clients that can go on and on and onandonandonandon with changes to their project.

Numerous times on this forum I’ve said that graphic design as a whole is on its way to becoming a secondary skill because I’ve seen it listed as a qualification for loosely related job positions. That would make most of the skills listed on this thread (with the exception of marketing) tertiary skills

Trent, how are you defining secondary skill?

I don’t think graphic design is a secondary skill. I think it’s more like a must have skill, but one that’s not necessarily sufficient to landing the more lucrative work.

There’s so much noise on all the channels–social media, phone, hulu/CBS/etc–that one needs compelling, eye catching graphics/visuals to draw target audiences in to the message/pitch.

I would argue the primary skill everyone needs is the ability to find where one’s audience/ideal customer is. Content in the wrong place no matter how perfectly executed doesn’t drive sales.

Finding one’s audience/ideal customer’s location can be marketing, it can be journalism/sleuthing, it can be statistics.

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