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Graphic Design as a profession - Pros/Cons

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by slilys, May 8, 2015.

  1. slilys

    slilys New Member

    Hi there

    That might be an unusual question here. Well, I am 30 years old, and I am now thinking about changing my career and becoming a graphic/communication designer. People tell me I am good at drawing, and I really enjoy being creative.

    Nevertheless, I’d like to be realistic about this profession, means, I’d like to assess if it makes sense to change my entire life to follow this dream (though I always wanted to study it since I was 14). I would need to study for at least 3 years to start with. Yes, I’d like to be happy in my job, but also earn enough money to afford my living (I don’t live in luxury, but travelling is a big hobby). I worked as an Online Marketing Executive in London previously.

    It would be super helpful if you could answer the questions below, so I’ve got more of an idea:


    > What is the occupational outlook for a communications designer in these days?
    - Unemployment
    - Working hours
    - Salary
    - Working in agency, client-side or self-employed – Dis/advantages

    > What do you dis/like about this profession?

    > What do you think of ‚Elance’ and other websites, where communication designers find jobs online? Can you live on that?

    > Do you know good communication design universities? What do you think about an Open University course?

    > Which characteristics personality-wise are essential in order to be a successful graphic designer?

    > What does a typical working day for a communications designer look like?


    Many thanks for your help!
     
    dupamuroTap likes this.
  2. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    Hey Lilys,

    Welcome to DF and no, it's not really an unusual question. :)

    I think it's totally doable as long as you have the drive and enthusiasm to start over although your experience as an Online Marketing Executive wont hurt things.
    I took a long break from design (6yrs at the transition from drawing board the Mac) and only returned to it at the age of 30 after I got the wanderlust out of my system (as if). ;)

    Here goes. Only a brief reply to get the ball rolling and only "in my opinion":


    > What is the occupational outlook for a communications designer in these days?
    - Unemployment
    I know a lot of people that studied design and not get a job. I think a lot of that is lack of perseverance rather than the market.
    Anyone with a hacked copy of Photoshop calls themselves a designer these days so you need to get above that level.


    - Working hours
    In house: Pretty much 9-5 and many get the opportunity of extra hours at deadline heavy periods. Expect to be expected to go the extra mile for a deadline.
    Freelance: It's up to you. Realistically, if you need to turn a big job around you'll need to burn the midnight oil sometimes. Freelance is very much "feast or famine".

    - Salary
    Depends where you are, your skill/experience level.

    - Working in agency, client-side or self-employed – Dis/advantages
    I've done both but in my experience I've never got on with being an in-houser. Put me with a MD for too long and I'll end up wanting to cut them.
    In-house
    Pros:
    Regular salary and working hours. They provide the working environment and equipment.
    Paid holidays and sickies. Pension.
    Cons:
    Like any other job. Hovering MD's grabbing your wacom and touching your screen (personal dislike).

    Freelance
    Pros:
    You're your own boss. Choose your gigs. Do what you like. Ability to work remotely (travel). Work in your jammies and look and smell like a homeless person (my own preference). + many more.
    Cons:
    Unpredictable income. No sick pay/paid hol's. Bloody hard work to get established. Long hours and periods of no work/income that make you shit yourself.

    > What do you dis/like about this profession?
    Like:
    I love/hate what I do but I couldn't not do it.
    Dislike:
    I love/hate what I do but I couldn't not do it.

    > What do you think of ‚Elance’ and other websites, where communication designers find jobs online? Can you live on that?
    BULL SHIT! EXPLOITATIVE! You'll never make any money on sites like that

    > Do you know good communication design universities? What do you think about an Open University course?
    Can't say I'm in a place to say as it's been so long since I was there.

    > Which characteristics personality-wise are essential in order to be a successful graphic designer?
    Perseverance, determination, enthusiasm, OCD, A broad pair of shoulders.

    > What does a typical working day for a communications designer look like?

    [​IMG]
     
    Wardy and NeonThunder like this.
  3. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    As above plus a question really....

    Who says you're good at drawing? In the UK at least most people (I'm not one of them) like the 'oh that looks nice approach' to work they look at even if it's not.

    Can you show us any of your artwork etc as that will likely give us more of an idea if you've got potential to do design.
     
    NeonThunder likes this.
  4. Jimlad

    Jimlad Well-Known Member

    I understand what Levi means. There's a difference between being "good" and being obsessed... in a good way. I'm an illustrator, but even at 3 years of age I was drawing ninja turtles at my nanna's house where she kept a little table of pencils and paper for me, and I never really stopped. I'm always looking at work I admire and examining it to see what the artist has done and how. I watch online tutorials by comic artists who talk you through their process, which is often insanely detailed with many ideas and themes running through a single panel illustration. I try to pick up as many skills and tips as I can either from people I work with or online because I always want the next picture to be "better"... I think what I'm trying to say is you need that mad obsession in the creative jobs. Other people might call it "drive and enthusiasm".

    That might be an unusual question here.
    Nope! I'm 31 and just got my 2nd full-time creative job after some time spent freelancing after a break following the first one (and a redundancy and some office work) so it can be a long old road.

    > What is the occupational outlook for a communications designer in these days?
    - Unemployment
    I started freelancing after a period of unemployment. There's work to be had if you're determined and a bit lucky.

    - Working hours
    Employed: 9-5ish, with extra time spent near deadlines. Some places expect and facilitate this level of dedication to the work with free food.
    Freelance: Be careful. It's very easy to slip into a 24hr work pattern, willing to answer emails at 2am or (god forbid) deciding to do so while spending time with friends/loved ones. Try and make your own structure if you do freelancing, your life will be better for it.

    - Salary
    Depends on your skill, experience, and who's paying you.

    - Working in agency, client-side or self-employed – Dis/advantages
    As Scotty said really.

    > What do you dis/like about this profession?
    I love it and I'd be drawing anyway. I do dislike how undervalued it can be by some clients who think you have a magic "Make Draw Good Fast!" button on your keyboard though.

    > What do you think of ‚Elance’ and other websites, where communication designers find jobs online? Can you live on that?
    I've gotten both good and bad work on PeoplePerHour and oDesk. You will often deal with people completely clueless as to what they want or how to ask for it clearly, and you will give the website a big cut of your money. If you need the work, be prepared to sift through to find decent clients looking for decent work for a decent price.

    > Which characteristics personality-wise are essential in order to be a successful graphic designer?
    See my opening statement really. Plus! Not just clear communication skills but some organisation too, especially if you're freelance.

    > What does a typical working day for a communications designer look like?
    I can't speak for communications designers, but as an illustrator on particular highlight for me was when I got an email beginning with "Right, I'm going to send you some unicorns later today..."

    In short, go for it!
     
  5. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    Totally agree with that Jim.

    You do need to have and element of obsessive, compulsive behaviour. The kind that makes you trawl design sites for inspiration and work on self initiated stuff when you're not working on a project.
    A lot of people describe being able to draw as a gift or something you're born with which is not true.
    It's finding something you enjoy and having the drive to improve in it which is then like a self fuelling machine.

    My kids Sensei wasn't born with the ability to break baseball bats with his shins.
    It took him years of practice and training and the understanding that no matter how good you get, there is always room for improvement.

    Being 30 years old is not a restraint on you learning a new skill.
    You have experience and some maturity on your side and the only person that could stop you is you.
    Today there is a wealth of inspiration in information at your finger tips which before the net was something which was very difficult and costly to access.

    Wardy and Jim specialise in comic art/character design (hope you guys don't mind me using you as an example) and I'm sure that back in the day this meant buying comic books and copying them and trying to pick apart how things were made/created over and over until they built the skills and got bloody good at it themselves.
    (I to started drawing the Ninja Turtles too)
    These days reference is a free and a click away and there's a host of tut's with experts showing you how it's done.
    GOLD MINE!
     
    Wardy likes this.
  6. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    Just to add.

    There's also places like this where you can show what you've done and people will try to help you and show you where you've gone wrong and where you can improve.
    You have to be prepared for constructive criticism which can be hard to take and the net doesn't prepare you for that especially when you've spent days making something you're proud of for others to rip apart but it's all part of learning.
     
  7. Jimlad

    Jimlad Well-Known Member

    Thanks Scotty. Liking the sensei point, reminds me I should really try and get back into training.

    The internet can't prepare you for critique but a decent art teacher at GCSE or A-Level should've at least introduced the concept. And any course you do will include parts where the whole group look at each other's work and pick it apart. Or at least mine did. It's not fun at first, but it teaches you not to be precious about your work and look at it as objectively as you can to improve on it. Same applies across the board from beautiful illustration, to elegant graphic design, to clean coding.

    So yeah, how hell bent you are on self-improvement can influence your creative career.
     
  8. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Re-read my post... just to clarify. I'm not saying you are bad, it's just easier to judge from pictures :)

    And yeah obsessive compulsive disorder and being perfectionist are common traits amongst designers lol

    Also if we look at your work we can likely direct you towards areas to focus/improve on which you may be able to find online etc. You may not need a full course to 'get up to speed'
     
  9. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    I'm not generally obsessive. Only when it comes to what I do.
    Obsessively, Compulsively Disorganised is probably a better description.
     
    Jimlad likes this.
  10. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Ah no clutter/mess/disorganisation is a sign of a creative mind... yeah don't ask me how that actually works with the other aspects either lol
     
  11. Jimlad

    Jimlad Well-Known Member

    In that case my living room is so creative...
     
  12. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    Sorry for going OT here but has anyone seen my shorts by any chance?
     
  13. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    were they the ones with pigs on... if it is I think I saw them flying past earlier today
     
  14. Jimlad

    Jimlad Well-Known Member

    I definitely haven't seen them, and I'm most definitely not wearing them right now... honest.
     
  15. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    It's okay chaps. I found them under a sketch of a cat wearing a Jacobean ruffle.

    Cough, scratch, sniff. ;)
     
  16. slilys

    slilys New Member

    ​this is great feedback, thanks very much!
     

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