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Becoming a Graphic Designer

If you really want to become a graphic designer, ask yourself this: Do you know what is expected and how to meet those expectations? If the answer is no, this book may be useful. If the answer is yes, read on anyway.
Yet even before you delve into this book, consider the following: If you have played widi standard newsletter or greeting card programs on your computer and have said to yourself “This is a fun way to pass the time, earn some cash, and maybe start a career,” you might be assuming that graphic design is a relatively easy endeavor. Think again! Although you may have a genuine aptitude for composition and may be intuitively adept at wedding type to image, these instincts alone do not make you a viable graphic designer, at least not any more.

Since the first edition of Becoming a Graphic Designer WAS published in 1999, the field and its requirements have changed. Graphic design may not require licensing or certification, but a practitioner must be highly trained, decidedly talented, and fervently dedicated if the goal is to to do better than average work. As you will see (if you don’t already know), this field has many subdisciplines (and sub- subdisciplines) that require bodies of knowledge and intense experience. Graphic design is not, as some people like to say by way of unfair comparison, brain surgery, but then only brain surgery is really brain surgery. It is, however, a specialized practice that has expanded as technologies have developed. Graphic design is not for the fainthearted – or the lazy.
With the computer (today’s primary design tool), especially the Macintosh, and the countless programs currently being used, producing professional-looking work is relatively easy, if your definition of professional is clean, readable, and order- ly. However, these characteristics do not always result in exemplary or good graphic design. Often the most memorable design is disorderly – in fact, unexpected.
The computer has made cleanliness easy and predictable. While computer skill is fairly simple to quantify, superior design is more subjective (and yet all good design exudes confidence). The computer paradox is this: Skill, no matter how proficient, does not directly translate into talent. Design techniques can be taught, but talent comes from another place. Technical mastery is important, but inspired conceptualization is more difficult, more innate. Left-brain/right-brain activity may be one way to describe this dichotomy, but however one describes the origins of talent, technical proficiency is not an end in itself- it is just the beginning.
This book will not teach you how to make a layout, master a tool, or sell yourself to prospective clients. It is not a how-to or a step-by-step blueprint for changing your professional life. There are plenty of schools and continuing education courses (see the Education and Resource sections) for that. What this book will do (and do well) is provide distinct models for becoming a creative graphic designer. Through reading these interviews with many successful designers, you will receive a capsule review of various genres – new and old – and their respective merits. You will also learn why certain designers start small, medium, and large studios, partnerships, or sole proprietorships. You will be privy to why some designers are expanding their role into entrepreneurial areas by creating their own designed products. And you will learn about educational options that will fit your specific interests.
All graphic design serves a client (big or small, commercial or not-for-profit). However, the primary reason one decides to become designer is not entirely to make money but to exercise creative muscles. In any case, creative services take many forms. Some designers service popular culture – publishing, music, entertainment, art – while others are interested in corporate identity or retail business needs. Some become involved with information presentation that aids in under- standing; others create diversions that bring pleasure to the eye. Sometimes designers focus on all this and more, because they are not content to be pigeon- holed. As you will see, some designers develop identifiable styles (signatures of sorts), while others have a more universal design language. Some are best adept at making fashion, while others build on the classic methods of visual communication. This book surveys all genres and media from the perspective of creation (as opposed to fabrication or technique):
Creativity comes in many forms, but a shared wisdom will become apparent upon reading these interviews. When one becomes a designer, one is expected to use the wisdom as a foundation on which to build a unique practice. What’s more, designers must speak the same basic language (which is typography), but the accents, idioms, and vernaculars are different depending on background and tastes. This will become vividly clear in these interviews as well.
Revised editions of any book must provide new material. Indeed, so much has changed in graphic design since the first and second editions of Becoming a Graphic Designer that there are plenty of new practices and new practitioners to include. In this edition, we have retained some older entries and replaced others to keep current with developments. The mix will be enlightening. Of the developments you will encounter, the Web, which was a hotbed of activity, tanked in the mid-1990s and then resurged a few years after the dot-com bust. Most design firms and all design schools deal with the Web as much as, if not more than, print. Some practitioners are going to the next stage of wireless communication design as well. As part of this move to broader (and broadband) media, motion has become almost matter-of-fact. Graphic designers have long been storytellers (or story-framers), and with computer-based technologies it is now almost as common to make type and images move as to statically compose them on a page. These developments are covered, but so are the traditional media.
If you really want to become a graphic designer, read carefully and then ask yourself what is expected and how you can meet those expectations. But also ask what your expectations are. What do you want from a field that offers so much but requires a lot in return?
– Steven Heller, 2005


Book Details

  • Title: Becoming a Graphic Designer: A Guide to Careers in Design
  • Author: Steven Heller , Teresa Fernandes
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 3 edition (November 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471715069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471715061
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 7.3 x 8.8 inches




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