Undergraduate student new to graphic design


New to this site and to the industry.

I’m a graphic design student with a background as a professional Chef. I’ve so far enjoyed the practice and I’m starting to see that I have something of an eye for design. I’m doing surpringly well at uni. However, I’m not completely clear on my intentions after studying as I believe that this is a flooded industry and standing out of the crowd may be difficult.
I know that there are plenty of avenues to venture into once I’m out of university but my question is, is it worth it?

Depends what you want? Do you want to be a chef? Or a designer?
If you have a flair for both then combine your skills.
Menu designs, decorating, etc. should be skills you can pull together to be unique in your field as a chef or as a designer.

Although, I can see a need for a chef with design flair, I can hardly see a designer being a chef.

Like porpoise/dophin analogy.

Cheffing is demanding, long hours on your feet and rewarding.
Designing is demaind, long hours on your ass, and rewarding.

Most of the generic fields of Graphic Design are falling prey to the crowdsource/template mentality. Things like newsletters, small business branding packages and yes even logos are going to low bid sites or to people who think downloading a template to do it themselves or using a pre-made logo are the easy way out. If you want to make it in this field you have to aim much much higher and be very very good.

I’m in the Boston area and most of the old Graphic Design studios have collapsed. They aren’t gone, but they no longer hire full time staff. There are very few places for a student to get a meaningful internship too, which I consider an absolutely necessary part of a GD’s education.

From my strange vantage point in wide format, where you might find some traction is in the “entertainment” and Live Venue sphere, but be warned this is as bad as Show Biz, cut throat competitive and long hours both on yer feet and on your ass (and sometimes asleep under the stage decking, LOL.)

There are a lot of other small niche spaces available, but again, you have to be very good and most require far more software skills beyond Illy, InD and Photoshop. 3D work and animation come to mind. I have to say that a lot of theatre stuff that used to be painted back in the day, was being printed for a while and now a good percentage of it is going to projection (think of the Adobe Max presentations and you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

Covid has started a whole new industry of webcasting too. Designing for internal and web-based presentations has become quite a thing the last several months and the consensus seems to be, “hey, why don’t we do this all the time?” Especially after sinking money into rigging up a conference room space to be a dressed broadcast studio. People are also making money designing small throw-aways for use in the rental studio spaces that have popped up everywhere in several major cities.

None of this, though, says “Chef.” Unless maybe you spin it into a successful online cooking thing, maybe? Become the next Galloping Gourmet! (showing my age there, LOL!)

I don’t know what the others here see from their more traditional vantage points.

Similar to what PrintDriver said, the whole field is changing to the point where it’s nearly unrecognizable.

As he mentioned, the usual fare for designers — logos, brochures, books, posters, stationery, packaging, etc. — has fallen victim to crowdsourcing, cheap overseas labor, templates and lots of amateurs making pocket change by helping people with these things.

Move up a couple of notches from there to more specialized areas that require more customized graphic design and there’s still money to be made, but the competition is extreme.

For example, I personally know a kid (early 20s) who’s making a six-figure income by designing and selling virtual clothes for game characters. He’s really an exception, though. The field, as you mentioned, is flooded with amateur designers, hobbyists, recent graduates from commercial design school programs and university graduates.

There just aren’t enough jobs to go around, and the glut of designers looking for a piece of the pie in a shrinking market has driven down wages to near poverty levels. It’s always been a tough field that’s required lots of talent, ambition and a refusal to give up, but over the past few years, a new person making a go of it has become something of a long shot.

Personally, I got into the field in the late 1970s when there just weren’t that many trained designers. I live in an area with a couple of million people, but my guess is that I knew at least half the graphic designers in town. Today, I’ll bet there are a couple of thousand people in town calling themselves designers. I’ve made a good living over the years at it, but today, I’m not sure I’d recommend anyone going into the field unless they are so driven and talented that it’s the only thing they can imagine themselves doing.

Yes, it is most definitely flooded and the market will be saturated for years. I’m 57. I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager doing paste-ups for my dad’s business. If I was starting all over again right now, no way do I go into graphic design.

Whatever you choose to do, go all-in. Don’t try to be a chef 20 hours a week, and a graphic designer for the other 20. You’ll be mediocre at both, because the split loyalty will delay your professional growth. If you end up a mediocre designer, you’re going to fighting to find the lowest paying jobs and the worst clients.

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