Part 5: How Do I Become a Graphic Designer?


If you went by what you see in movies, you’d think Graphic Design was as easy as throwing on some Rivers Cuomo glasses and sitting in front of a computer all day listening to podcasts from CokeMachineGlow, charging hundreds of dollars to create brochures for your buddy’s car repair shop. As fun as that sounds, eventually you’ll have to know what you’re doing.

You can start by going to art school, which will definitely give you a head start. You’ll learn about composition, colour harmony, dominance, and learn lots by studying famous graphic artists like Andy Warhol. These are a couple places we recommend:
- Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Alberta
- Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, BC

You can go to a technical school, and that will help too. You’ll learn about presses, colour separation, typefaces, and the nitty-gritty aspects of print production. For that kind of training, we recommend the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Alberta.

You can also learn by just giving it a go, working hard and making mistakes. If you’re doing that, here are some tips:

  • Use what you have. You don’t need an Apple with Intel Core Duo processors and Adobe Creative Suite 2 to start out in Graphic Design. Heck, just start with Corel Photo Paint 7 on your mom’s PC. Doing your own design experiments with colour, layout, style, and fonts is a great way to learn the basics.
  • Pay attention. Collect examples of good design from things you encounter everyday: rave cards, books, blogs, magazines, websites and CD cover art. Get books out from the library on layout principles, composition rules, and figure out how to be better at what you’re already good at. Learning the rules behind the art will be a huge benefit.
  • Get any experience you can. Accept a job doing the website for your hockey league, or volunteer to do the annual report for your friend’s dad’s business. The more experience you can get, the faster you’ll receive feedback and grow as an artist.
  • Be professional. Doing business is about more than just being good at what you do, it’s about being able to treat clients with respect and give them what they want.
  • Find an outlet. Some designers find success starting their own businesses, while others enjoy the dynamics of working with an established company. No matter your preference, find a style that suits you, and make sure you find a place where it’s easy to remember that you love what you do.

On with the Series: ERD 101
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

This helpful article was brought to you by the knowledgeable people at Elbowroom Design, where better communication means better results.

  • Jade

    Thanks for the tips and advice! Enjoyed reading all of these