Tag: design advice

So you want to be a designer

I want to be a designer

Being a designer can be one of the most rewarding professions available to you (if your main talents are creative) but getting your first fully paid professional design job can be difficult particularly in this economy. It is a highly competitive market with thousands of new design graduates graduating every summer, opportunity to step into the creative industries is becoming more & more difficult. In this blog post I discuss what you will need to secure that dream vocation combined with my own search for a job in the creative industries.

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Most people find their passion when they are a child. Francis Xavier once said “give me a child untill he is 7 and I will give you the man” meaning that you will know what that child is likely to succeed well in by that age. What did you enjoy when you were just a toddler? Do you remember? I remember I used to draw,paint lots, design my own computer games, create my own paranormal magazine with membership & I was always on the computer! My passion was art, design & computing and it still is.

Go back to your childhood, find what it is you love and continue to develop that passion!

Skill Progression

designer, design, becoming a designer, skills

With time comes new technology, new technology means as a designer you must be willing to and wanting to learn about the latest trends, fashion & tools for creation. If you decide to stop learning and just happy to deal with the skills you have within 5 years you will be outmoded by the other designers that are constantly improving themselves. Don’t loose the race, keep practicing and keep learning.

One way to do this is use youtube for free photoshop tutorials, stumbleupon for the latest news in your industry, websites like www.photoshop.com for free tutorials or do a google search for the thing it is you are wanting to learn. The internet is a haven for everything you have EVER wanted to know if you search hard enough.


Again if you are serious about becoming a designer buy a domain name, hosting plan & start making content for the web. Also sign up to creative social media such as creativpool , behance, dribble, deviantart & flickr. Getting your work out to the masses is important…

Time Management

What do you do with your time? Do you spend more time watching tv than progressing your skills? Do you go out drinking three days out of seven? Could that time be used better? Everyone has a choice how they use their time but if you are serious about becoming a top designer , or a top anything in the industry you have chosen to enter you will have to reassess your time usage and see if you can use it in other ways. With the job market so competitive drinking with friends will keep good friends but they wont necessarily help you with job opportunities unless you are fortunate enough to have friends that are in the same industry as you.

Do another job but keep practicing

cocktail, part-time job, earn whilst you grow

Its okay if you are doing something totally irrelevant to your dream vocation of a design job, we all need to live.

My first job I was 18 in 2001 & i was working as a sales assistant in Burton Menswear, then I did bar work as a cocktail barman, I then tried plumbing, labouring, painting and decorating for years whilst practicing to become an architect, RNID Typetalk Operator ( so deaf people can use phones), a photo lab technician & eventually…when i was 28 in mar 2012 I finally landed my first creative job I had seeked since 2008…but it wasn’t in my hometown.

To make sure you don’t loose your passion that you had as a child, be focused & allocate time to your hobby when you are free so advancing your skills and knowledge base will continue to increase. One day you will have the portfolio to show to potential employees.

Do a degree or don’t do a degree?

This is something that many designers wonder. The benefits to degrees are you are learning from highly experienced designers with a lot of knowledge, you are learning how to research properly, you are showing potential employees your ability to commit to something with some intellect and you will have an aim such as design briefs to where you are designing to keep you motivated.

If degrees are good value for money is still in question. I think if you are really talented, with a strong portfolio and you have confidence ( not arrogance) you don’t need a degree.

Create things for friends and family

Be warned, although this seems like a good idea it can be frustrating, very frustrating and the only benefit to you is that you will increase your portfolio..thats not going to put food on the table.

I would recommend you advertise yourself on fiver.com or freelancer.com and at least get a small fee for your time whilst you build your portfolio up as friends are unlikely to pay you..or at least not what you would expect to receive for your skill and time.

Hit a brick wall, hit it back..or alternatively ..go around it

I graduated from Architecture in June 2008 when architecture and banking had taken a huge hit due to consumer confidence around the world. Such an effect that there was a 3000% reduction in part 1 positions ( the first stage to learning the practice of architecture ). This was very hard hitting and devastating especially when you put a lot of money and time into progressing your career and educational cv.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, yes you feel low and like you are being wasted but push yourself on, im sure there is another avenue for you. I tried teaching but that was not for me, i never wanted to work for government and it is just isn’t rewarding especially when you have pursued a career as a creative for so long before. The good thing about that course is that it opened up my eyes to IT as a creative avenue. Two paths were wrong for me but both gave me skills and experience to becoming a branding/graphics/web designer today.

Take it on the chin

Naturally, most creatives are very in touch with their emotions, that is what makes great artists great but learning to control your emotions when dealing with others opinions is important because not everyone will be a fan of your work so you need to get used to criticism. Criticism isn’t bad, it is how we designer’s make things better just as long as it doesn’t become personal then it can only make you a stronger professional.

Hardest truth for anyone pursuing a career dream

sunset, sunrise, adventure, move on, time to move way

How important is success to you compared to being close to friends, family and your home town?

The truth is your perfect job opportunity may not be where you have lived all your life and gained friends, life experience & comfort and for me…it wasn’t.

It was only after my most severe breakdown that I realized that I HAD TO leave my hometown as there was no opportunity and i was prepared to go ANYWHERE in the world ( I even began learning spanish & traveled to South America alone to work out if it was the place for me). You too need to adapt that attitude if you are serious about following your dream vocation, get you suitcase, pack your easel, paintbrushes & pens & get travelling! Remember, travel broadens the mind and being creative, that can’t be bad!

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Any other suggestions to how to become a designer please comment below