Think about your favorite brand of fast food. One of the first things that will come to mind will probably be the brand’s logo. A company or product’s branding and logo are examples of graphic design. A method of visual communication, graphic design is also known as communication design and is defined by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as ‘the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content.’ Every day, you encounter graphic design in the type, image and form you see on posters, billboards, packaging, books, magazines and just about every website you visit online.
Highlighted courses and degrees in graphic design
Graphic design curriculums often start off with courses included in most design degree programs such as drawing, painting, printmaking and art history. Students will then likely take major courses such as graphic design, typography, photography, multimedia design, web design and other electives.
Hands-on experience is a significant part of most degrees that focus on design. In most curriculums, students are required to manage and execute a major project in their later years in the program, usually the fourth year, wherein they will be required to demonstrate the ability, skills and knowledge they have gained throughout the program.
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates. Please check with the institution you are interested in for their accreditation details.
There is no universally recognized certification or required board exam for graduates with a degree in graphic design, because graphic designers are usually evaluated based on the quality of their designs and what kind of experience they have.
Generally, graphic design is considered to be a specialization in most arts or fine arts degree programs. Because graphic design is such a very specific aspect of the field, actual specialization is normally gained through professional experience. For some aspects of graphic design such as web design and user experience design, individuals might have to take additional courses or electives.
The timeframe of completing a graphic design program will depend on your goals. An undergraduate degree in graphic design can typically take four years. Another option, which is shorter, for those who want to take a graphic design program is an associate’s degree which takes two years.
There are some master’s degree programs available for graphic design, although it is not necessary to practice in the field.
Entrance into a graphic design degree program varies from institution to institution. Some universities require you to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams.
Another possible consideration or requirement would be a creative portfolio. Creative portfolios should include the applicant’s previous design work. Some institutions may request work as part of a case study or a very specific list of samples that would be uniform among applicants.
For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.
In the UK, more than half of positions taken by graduates of graphic design are in the fields of arts, design and media. These positions include art director, animator, graphic designer, spatial designer, multimedia specialist, photographer and production designer. A significant number of graduates choose to do freelance work, while some work for creative agencies or design consultancy firms. Other employers may be advertising and PR agencies, museums, schools and studios.
An important part of getting work in design-related jobs is building up a creative portfolio and the right contacts. Participation in competitions or exhibitions are often a way for designers to promote themselves and get connected to others in the industry, whether they specialize in drawing, painting, computer-aided design or printmaking.
Students who have gone through a degree program focused on graphic design also gain valuable skills and knowledge. Aside from the obvious skills in design, most graduates will also be adept in time management and computer software. Generally, they will also be able to thrive in both teamwork and individual tasks.
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