Firstly, what is a graphic designer? A graphic designer is a creative individual who combines technical knowledge and artistic talent to meet the needs of clients. Just like there are many forms of writing - fiction, travel articles, training manuals, there are also many branches of graphic design, such as book covers, magazine ads, video games.
Graphic designer Eithne Ni Anluain has this to say of the different branches. "I think in today's industry there is a graphic design for just about everything, from tea bags to creating matte paintings for movies. There are just so many to name. Everything we see advertised is a form of graphic design, even in a weird way what we wear is a form of design. Fashion designers draw their new collections then they are made, so it all begins with a scrawled concept on a piece of paper. Book covers are exactly the same, we 'scrawl' 2-3 concepts and let the client choose."
Training towards a career in graphic design can begin in high school, with the student completing courses in art and design. In college there are formal qualifications the student can undertake. But just as there are many novel writers who undertake no formal training whatsoever, there are graphic designers who are also self taught.
Eithne is self taught so the process from leaving school to now was different to her. "I have honestly no idea where students can go straight after school. I'm self taught coming from a science background into a world completely foreign. From reading and talking to people if you do a course and get your B.Arts then you do have 'some' advantage over self taught people. However I'm saying this very warily because in my opinion it's the work and the portfolio that gets the job. You could have degrees coming out your ears, but still are not able to follow art direction. It really depends on what you want to do. If you want to do game art straight out of school and want to work for Massive Black then your portfolio has to be outstanding. If you eventually want to work for Massive Black then looking for a internship in smaller companies while you work on your portfolio is the way to go. Not all of us make it straight away and there's a lot of hard work to be done."
When asked how many years should a school leaver should spend before being qualified as a graphic artist, Eithne has this to say.
"It depends on the course you do. In Ireland and the UK it's 3 - 4 years if you do a basic art degree with a specification. Most then branch into different categories and specialize more. The benefit of a college is the lecturers usually have contacts that can get you in quicker."
Writers also come in the employed and self employed varieties. Employed writers might work in newspapers and magazines, work in organizations writing training manuals, so for anyone wanting to enter this area they might be wondering if there is better opportunity for freelance or employed graphic artists.
Eithne Ni Anluain says, "Freelance simply means you work for yourself and not a company. Is it better? Depends on who you talk to. A artist may hate working for their company and dream of freelance work where they can pick and choose. Whereas a freelance artist might crave the solid paycheck a company provides and less hassle. Opportunities differ in the same way. You just have to make sure all your online portfolios and networking sites are up to date and are ready for a adventure!"
Writers need to be people watchers. They need to be able to describe how a person walks, how they scratch their nose. They also (whether they admit it or not) keep a close eye on what other writers are doing. Designers do this to an extent as well.
"To be honest," Eithne says, "I just worry about myself and making sure I'm doing the best I can. Worrying or looking at what others do can give you doubts and make you question yourself and lowers your self esteem. 'Oh look XYZ got a contract for Orion UK' and youre eating beans on toast because you can't afford anything'. It can be a bit deflating alright. But a thick skin is wonder bar! Now I will clarify I do look at what others do to keep on trend, do I want to copy it? No! I want to do better.
The most famous person Eithne has ever done work for?
"Its hard to tell who's the most famous as they are all in the same bracket! Deborah Cooke, Nalini Singh, Marjorie M Liu, Lara Adrian…would just LOVE to do covers for Maria M Snyder or any of the big fantasy writers like Ian M Banks, Raymond E Fiest, Robin Hobb…..I could go on and on! Just so many and so little time!
Recommended reading is the Muddy Colors blog : http://muddycolors.blogspot.ie/2011/05/life-after-art-school-five-years-to.htmlIt is well worth a read.
Eithne Ni Anluain's portfolio can be viewed on her website www.nianluain.com
Her social media links are:
She has a blog at http://nianluain.blogspot.ie/
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Some Random Things About Graphic Design
1. Claude Garamond, publisher and legendary type designer responsible for designing the letterforms that led to some of the most widely used typefaces throughout history, died in poverty at age eighty-one.
2. The Michelin man has a name, Monsieur Bibendum. He’s also a century old.
3. The Nike swoosh was designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971, while she was a student at Portland State University. She was paid $35.
4. Woody Allen uses the same typeface in the titles and credits of nearly all of his movies. The typeface is Windsor.
5. Peretz Rosenbaum is one of the most influential graphic designers of the 20th century. He is responsible for the IBM logo, the old and arguably most recognizable UPS logo, the Westinghouse logo, and many other design icons. You know him as Paul Rand.
6. According to Salary.com, the median salary for a graphic designer in the United States is $45,704.
7. The worlds first website (as we know them today) was launched in 1992. You can still visit the URL here.
8. What we now call sans-serif typefaces were once known by a number of names: Egyptian, Antique, Grotesque, Doric, Heiti, Lineale, and Simplices. I think sans-serif works just fine, thank you.
9. Georgia, another typeface designed by Matthew Carter, is named after a tabloid headline which reads “Alien heads found in Georgia.”
10. The Coca-Cola logo was made using a style of hand lettering called Spencerian Script.
11. The Great Seal of the United States was designed in the 1770’s by the then secretary of congress, Charles Thomson.
12. The Red Cross is known as The Red Crescent in Muslim countries. Its logo also changes from a cross to a crescent.
13. Facebook uses a modified version of the typeface Klavika for its logo.