Career change to Graphic Design from Animation/Ilustration?


New Member

Apologies for the long post- I am just a bit stressed and in need of some advice!

I am a 23 year old Illustration graduate who mostly made 2D animation work on my BA.

I thought I wanted to be a 2D animator who does some freelance Illustration on the side but the competition, instability and constant self-promotion needed to freelance in these areas really stresses me out. The majority of roles in Illustration and Animation are freelance. In animation, there can be very long hours which also puts me off. There seems to be this expectation that you need to live and breathe your art and do lots of your own projects in your free time in order to be successful and while I am very passionate and I do enjoy illustrating and animating, I'm not sure I want to do it all the time. I have spent the last year doing personal projects and learning animation skills and software in my free-time and I am feeling very stressed and burnt out- I feel as if I have turned my passion into something that causes me stress. These reasons make me think perhaps I am not cut out for it.

I've been working for a while in a Graphic design related role for a digital marketing company- doing branding, social media content creation, and designing websites and apps for small businesses. I have been really enjoying it - researching brand identities, experimenting with composition and grids and reading lots of books in graphic design theory and history. It makes me wonder if Graphic Design might be better balance for me: It uses creative and visual skills that I enjoy and also has the opportunity for non-freelance and more stable work with a much clearer career progression. Areas that interest me are editorial/publication design or web/UX/ UI design. I find the research behind brand design really interesting as well. I wonder if I might be happier still working in a creative field and turning drawing and animation into a hobby so it can be fun for me again.

These are my pros and cons for animation vs Graphic Design.

  • Passionate about it and have been for a long time
  • unstable, short freelance contracts (animators can have gaps between work)
  • possibility of moving a lot for roles
  • lower salary
  • most jobs through word of mouth- need strong networking skills (I like people and get on well with people but I am very shy so this scares me a bit)
  • a lot of skill required- need to refine anatomy, drawing skills, animation principles and learn software (tv paint, toonboom, flash)
  • competitive
  • very specialised so hard to move into other things
  • entry level jobs can be quite repetitive/boring (eg clean up)

  • creative skills
  • possibility of agency/in house, non-freelance roles- more stable
  • salary/pension/benefits
  • Already confident in Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign, Premiere, Aftereffects, XD.
  • Maybe a better work-life balance? (probably depending on area of GD)
  • Advertised jobs/apply through speculative emails

  • new area for me
  • competitive
  • will I be any good?
  • there can be some boring jobs in it
I have been considering doing a post graduate diploma in Graphic Design at LCC, UAL that is aimed at people trying to switch career to Graphic Design. It gives you a grounding in Graphic Design research and design principles with the opportunity to turn it into an MA with an additional module.

I am new to Graphic Design so I appreciate my view of the industry may not be accurate. This is the main reason why I am writing this post. So I Have these questions:

1) Do you think moving into Graphic Design based on these reasons is a good idea?
2) Is there anything I've got really wrong?
3) Does anyone know anything about the LCC PGDip degree and whether it is worth doing to get into Graphic Design?
4) Does doing an MA matter or is it more about developing a portfolio?

Thank you so much :)


Well-Known Member
It sounds like you need to be aiming towards graphics if you're enjoying the bits that you are doing and looking at the amount of cons on the animation side. You simply won't get enough work
until you get more experience and a really good name for yourself and regular clients etc. Same with illustration.

However, I don't see why you can't combine all three disciplines in to one service, to start off with at least. A lot of people (myself included) I'm sure started off as a Jack of all trades
and only specialised in one area as they became more experienced in one of them. Brand yourself as Ashyv Studios or whatever and get whatever work you can get. Freelance will only be stressful
at the start, you'll get a lot more stress if you end up in a job you don't like.

It sounds like you would walk in to any junior design job if you were so inclined, especially with your other skills, otherwise I would certainly go for the further education in graphics.
Saying that, a very good portfolio would get you more job opportunities than an MA I think.