starting out as a graphic designer

stephen pretorius // 28 june 2023

The world of graphic design is filled with endless opportunities and possibilities. In a society driven by visuals, graphic designers play a significant role in shaping our interactions and perceptions of information. These expertise extend far beyond the creation of visually pleasing aesthetics; they are masters of visual storytelling, seamlessly blending photography, art, and text to convey information in a consumable form.


But what does it truly mean to be a graphic designer?


To be a skilled graphic designer you need to acquire a deep understanding of design principles and execute them in your work. You should ask yourself, “How can I make this design both legible and visually pleasing?” The beauty of graphic design lies in its diversity, as everyone approaches it in their own unique style. Some embrace an artistic approach, infusing their designs with creativity and self-expression, while others prioritize delivering information in a clear and simplistic manner. Balance is key.


My personal journey in graphic design began with different ambitions. Initially, I wanted to study physics in high school, with the idea of becoming an architect. However, I soon realized that the field of architecture demanded strong mathematical skills. It was at this time that a friend convinced me to explore design as a subject. It didn’t take long for me to discover my natural knack for creating visually appealing designs as I’ve always been an artist at heart. I began to see the world through the eyes of a designer, developing an ability to identify specific design periods and styles.


I feared that I would never pursue design again as I wrote my final matric exam, but then I remembered how my design teacher told me to never stop doing design as I’m entering this new chapter in life. I thought that day was the end of my design journey but little did I know it was in fact just the start.


Fast forward to the present, and the past two months have been absolutely filled with new memories and knowledge that’ll stay forever. While I had previously dabbled in digital design, my skills have drastically improved as I delved deeper into various programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. These tools have not only aided in the development of my design abilities but have also opened numerous doors for me to explore and enhance my creativity.


Moreover, my journey in graphic design has taught me skills that extend beyond the world of design itself. Collaboration lies at the heart of the design process, as the end product is rarely meant for the satisfaction of a single person. Therefore, working closely with your team and users is crucial to ensure successful outcomes. Effective communication plays a pivotal role in the design process, as designers must clearly and convincingly articulate their words into ideas. Engaging in ongoing discussions and seeking feedback throughout every phase of the design process is vital to prevent projects from going south.


Furthermore, never underestimate the importance of a well-defined brief. It may seem obvious, but reading and understanding the brief is essential. Seek clarification from your design lead, boss, or client if any aspects are unclear. Avoid wasting precious time and effort by addressing any questions early on. Continuously refer back to the brief when uncertain about the next steps and always review it, even when you believe your work is complete.


In the world of graphic design, there is always room for growth, innovation, and self-improvement. It is an ever-evolving landscape that challenges us to push the boundaries of our creativity and adapt to new technologies and trends. Embrace the journey, embrace the process, and let your passion for design guide you towards endless opportunities for personal and professional fulfilment.