2 Things They Never Told You in College About Being a Graphic Designer

Freshly graduated, and think you know everything there is about graphic design? Think again. Here are a couple of things that would have been nice to know before I was released into the real world, where professors don’t hold your hand.

95% of your education happens after you graduate.

That’s right. After thousands of hours of blood, sweat, and tears studying by dim candlelight (well, bright florescent, actually), I exited the university with a degree in…learning. Over an amazingly quick period of four years, they’d given me and my fellow colleagues a rough overview of a few key programs within the Adobe family, a general knowledge of art history, and the ability to conceptualize anything from a smear of paint on the wall to mutilated stuffed animals. Those were good days. In 2006, we stumbled out of our  senior studios with BFA’s in hand and stared at each other, dumbfounded. Now what? Little did we know that our real education was about to begin, because there’s nothing like being thrust into the real world and learning what it’s really like to deal with design projects that aren’t assigned by professors. No one ever told me that clients could be their own worst enemies when it came to picking colors for their own logos, or that sometimes you would be getting calls at eleven o’ clock at night if you didn’t make it clear when your hours of operation were, or that you could be burned bigtime if you didn’t have clients sign a written contract that essentially protects both you and them.  There’s nothing like real world experience.

You will always be learning.

Always. Software changes, and then goes obsolete. Some clients insist you use simplified, non-industry software that would have made you choke on your own self-righteousness years ago. The switch form CS4 to CS5 caused me to actually have  to (gasp) watch a few YouTube tutorials. There’s no shame in that. It’s just good to stay up on the latest and greatest, and the more versatile you are, the more people will need your services, simple as that.

 

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