As newbie graphic designers, we all believe there are laid-down rules we must follow if we truly want to become successful, and recognized in the industry.
Listening to other designer’s success stories of how they began from scratch and later rose to the peak gives you the impression that’s how things work. We all dream of following the footsteps of our design idols, so our names can be spread just like theirs.
The reality of life
The truth is, life always has a way of presenting things. What worked for others may not work the exact way for you. However, there are lots of lessons to be learned even if they don’t work the same way. In graphic design, some pieces of advice are there to be followed - whether you are a recent graduate, design student, or just trying to get into design field with no experience.
This article will help you know some important tips that can convert your dreams of becoming a successful graphic designer into reality. Note that this is not an automatic approach. You must put in your best - your determination, passion, vigor, - to stand a chance of soaring high.
1. Join design bodies and be a volunteer if possible
As a design student, you enjoy a discounted price if you join graphic design organizations. The essence of this great step is for you to meet with like minds, interact with them and maintain a healthy networking system. Taking part in design organizations will present you an avenue to have a good understanding of the field, the chance to have discussions with inspiring people, and to know the top guys in the industry.
What you stand to benefit from design organizations are tremendous. Take the opportunity of all the advice, offer, and knowledge, and make yourself active. Among other organizations one to join is AIGA.
2. Get internships
Doing an internship in a reputable design studio that has all the apparatus, and experienced designers, can be memorable and valuable throughout your graphic design career. There are a bunch of things to learn - you will know how design organizations operate, understand how to deal with clients, how to manage your time in time-sensitive projects, and much more. In some cases, you may be lucky to be retained by the company, gain more skills, and start your career.
3. Work for charities
An intelligent way to begin a network base, get noticed, and add good work to your portfolio is by offering your design prowess to charities in your area. By doing this, you are not only selling yourself but also helping the community with your work. These projects could be for both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Visit local galleries around you, animal shelters, businesses, etc. - do work that’s special to you and offer it to them without a fee.
4. Send fan mail
As humans, it gladdens our heart when we receive notes from admirers. In the design industry, this goes a long way in lifting the spirits and strengthening us. In this way, you can make it known to your design idols that you respect their impact in the industry.
There are many opportunities you stand to enjoy when you send genuine emails to people that matter most to you. Who knows, you may be lucky enough that one of them is looking for a person to fill a vacant position in their organization, and your skills match the requirements. You know that feeling when you work with someone whom you admire? It is definitely out of this world, because you’re going to work hard to be like them.
Of course, you are not going to get this always, so don’t feel disappointed if you don’t hear from them immediately. Keep the spirit alive by sending follow-up materials to show your recent work. This will serve as a reminder to the recipients, and make them interested in you in case of any available opportunity.
5. Support a network of peers
Often, we see our peers as rivals or competitors. This shouldn’t be the case. Instead, we should collaborate and support their work. There are great benefits attached to nurturing a network of peers. The project a colleague of yours may ignore due to a tight schedule or low budget can be a nice bargain for you. If you execute the project, you are not only benefiting from the monetary reward, but also building your portfolio which will eventually lead to bigger opportunities.
You can get more useful information on networking with other designers here
6. Exploit your other art-related skills
If you get blessed with other relevant skills that fit in the art industry, such as photography skills, you can blend it with your design skills. This can lead to opportunities that will announce your work to the world. Put your best pieces together in a well-presentable and elegant format (either PDF or print format), and be ready to send them out through emails to agencies you have an interest in working with.
7. Have an online presence
The world has gone digital, and for any business to thrive, it must have an online presence. You need to keep up with people around the world, and express yourself to them through your work. When we talk about creating an online presence, it is not limited to just having a Twitter handle or Facebook account. Prospective employers would expect to see a website or blog of your own, or use online portfolio services like Behance.
8. Be nice, be humble, be bold
These three features have a crucial role to play if you want to be successful as a designer. Regardless of whether we are engaged in offline or online work, we need human connections to climb the ladder of success. You have to be genuinely humble and friendly because they have a lot to play in building a relationship with other people. Clients are always compelled to come back for more business if they get treated nicely.
The bottom line of all these is building good relationships and communication, because they are the core of any profession. You can’t do without it.
9. Start working on personal projects
The key word for designers is “Creativity.” Since you are creative, there are 1001 things you can do. If the jobs are not forthcoming at the beginning, take your time and create your own amazing projects while waiting.
Share your day between finding conventional ways of showcasing your work to the world, and also building your work. This could be in the form of postcards, E-books, CMS themes, free distribution of great pack icons, or any other thing that can get you running.
It is quite risky to do personal projects, but it is worth it. There are advantages of creating opportunities yourself. You have all the tools needed to connect with colleagues, friends, and people with like-minds. The internet has made things much easier for us today, so seize every opportunity that comes your way, and use them to the fullest.
10. Keep pushing
The last tip on the list is a summation of every other tip mentioned above: Keep going forward. Keep up your good work of emailing, calling, networking, or other things you do. Don’t get discouraged or take rejection personally. Remember, the difficult part of a thing lies at the beginning. Stay positive, and believe that your opportunity will come.
We can be who we want to be so long as some key things get put in place, and steps are followed. Following these tips will make you a successful designer.
Are you an experienced graphic designer? Let us know your thoughts about this article in the comments below.