Q. Do you know of any good graphic design courses around the Calgary area?

Hi Elbowroom,

I am 20 years old and I’m VERY interested in graphic design. I am looking at starting it as a career. I do have some experience in working with Photoshop — what program do you use for your graphic design? And what advice could you give someone who is interested in starting a career in this? Thanks for your time,


    Hi André,
    That’s awesome that you’re so into Graphic Design — a good choice, if we do say so ourselves. As far as getting a start in your career, knowing Photoshop is an excellent start. We use the entire Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) for our design work. We find that different projects require different software, as you probably know too. Photoshop is great for photo editing, and for preparing images for the web. Illustrator is needed for designing logos, and other vector-based graphics. InDesign is necessary for laying out large amounts of text for books, magazines, brochures and so on. But we find that all Adobe products have a very similar feel, so if you already know Photoshop pretty well, you won’t have much trouble figuring out the other programs.

    As for advice starting your career, we actually have a piece here on Elbowruminations called “How Do I Become a Graphic Designer?” You can check it out here. Our biggest piece of advice is “start practicing.” Just use whatever software you can and start imitating design work that you like, learning the software, learning different techniques, and developing your own style. And don’t give up, either. As designers, we’re always seeing OTHER designers who seem to be way better than us, and it can make us feel really inferior. But every designer has their own style and talent, so keep at it.

    - Elbowroom Design

Tourist map of downtown CalgaryThis “helpful” map of Downtown Calgary fails on multiple levels:

1) It makes Downtown Calgary look and feel like a boring amusement park designed in 1989. The swooshy, paintbrush-script font, paired with the turquoise/red/yellow colour scheme gives off a distinctly unsophisticated flavour.

2) It is too cluttered to make sense of. While I was taking this photo, I was approached by a couple asking if I knew where “Immigration Canada” was. I said, “Let’s take a look at this map here,” and it took about 3 minutes to find where the Harry Hayes building was on the sign.

Good wayfinding should pay attention to 2 things: recognition & comprehension. As soon as you look at a map, it should be clear what cues you need to look for. For instance, on a good map, within a few seconds, you should “recognize” that the numbers on the map correspond to the numbers on the bottom panel. And then you can look closer: that’s the “comprehension” stage: where you can match the numbers up and figure out where you want to go.

On this map, there are no numbers, no colour-coding, and no legend. The black panel on the bottom is simply a list of buildings that are IN DOWNTOWN CALGARY; it does not tell you where to find them on the map. This photo is too small to see, but every single location marked on this map is written on a 45-degree angle.

Ugh. Unattractive and ineffective. Minus ten points for the Downtown Calgary tourist map.