Graphic designers are drawing up a storm in today’s tech world. If you want to be part of the graphic design industry and wave your magic wand to make websites, apps, and business paraphernalia look dashing, check this out.
Wherever we go, whatever we do and in whichever way we look, graphic design follows us. Without us even knowing. Don’t worry, this is the good kind of following. Graphic design is what draws us to products, services and places. A well-designed logo is enough to get thousands of likes on Facebook nowadays.
Have you ever wondered how often we actually consider where something came from? How did the world of design first start? Where did the idea of selling logos to companies come from? To get some answers, I did a little research on the history and modern day use of graphic design. I also met up with a design graduate from the Inscape Education Group who shed some useful light on the industry.
But first, let’s have a look at the beginnings of this craft.
A Short History Lesson
Paul Rand and William Addison are known as the pioneers of modern graphic design. Rand was the first designer to sell the worth of graphic design in improving a business’s identity and appeal to the public, while Addison was first to design a cover of a book to attract consumer attention. The two are famous for their 20th Century works, such as Rand’s first GQ layout design and Addison’s designs for Alblabooks.
This might make you think graphic design, as we know it today, had its beginnings less than a century ago. Not quite. Graphic design has probably been around for as long as humans have.
Let’s go back in time to about 20 000 BC – the time of cavemen. Yes, you did hear right, I said cavemen. According to the current definition, those cave drawings are considered to be graphic design, due to the fact that they conveyed a message.
Graphic design is defined as the art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books.
And indeed, the cavern pieces of visual art were used as a means of communication and of recording events.
We can trace graphic design all the way through human history: in the first Bibles, manuscripts, the Qur’an, maps, or playing cards. And let us not forget the myriad of beautiful, historic art pieces that remains a source of awe and inspiration. In fact, many graphic designers find themselves drawn to art galleries and the like.
Modern Graphic Design
We’ve all seen them once or twice, maybe hundreds of times. The seemingly broody types, dressed alternatively and who generally have impressive hair. They may be intimidating at first, but are some of the most interesting people you’ll meet. Now, I know this is merely a stereotype and not every designer or creative type fits this profile. But hey, you’ve just gotta own it sometimes. They’re awesome and the world would not be the same without them.
Modern graphic design is now more based around consumer conceptualisation. Contrary to how cave men used the medium, modern graphic designers use it to inform, inspire and captivate consumers. This comes in handy when marketing and trying to sell a product.
Graphic design is not simply a means of marketing, however. Graphic designers leave their own personal mark and style in each of their designs. At the same time, they cleverly implement their clients’ interpretation and concept of the respective product to intrigue consumers and eventually get them to purchase the product or service.
Visual appearance is extremely important, because human beings are often drawn to things because of their visual appeal, not its use or function. If the look of a product doesn’t please us, oftentimes we won’t purchase it. Personally, I often change which deodorant I buy purely based on the ‘new and improved look’ that they may have released. I will contemplate my options, trusty-old one vs new-pretty one, for a few minutes and then grab the new one, willing to risk the safety of knowing the old one works for the visual appeal of the new one.
This is why graphic design has become so popular. Organisations are always looking for new and exciting ways to attract consumers and draw attention to create new business. Without the talent and input of a graphic designer, these efforts may seem pointless, especially since people want instant gratification nowadays – in this case, to be instantly satisfied by the look of a product. We don’t want to stand and listen to a pitch. We want to see something that meets our needs and take it right away.
Graphic Design at Inscape – A Chat with Brandon
Brandon Kenny, a graphic design graduate from the Inscape Education Group. He completed a Bachelor of Design with a specialisation in Graphic Design , which is a 3-year full-time course. Just before he completed his third and final year, he met someone who was selling his graphic design and printing business. Just 3 months later, Brandon was the proud owner of Loerie Press.
He explained the all-nighters he pulled, the workload, as well as the amount of money he spent on materials and resources that he needed to complete his projects. This may seem like gloom and doom to a non-designer like myself, but he assured me that to him it was a dream come true to his inner designer.
When asked about campus life and how Inscape helped him on his designer journey, he described a pleasant atmosphere where students chat about projects and bounce around ideas with their fellow classmates. Learning from others gave him the opportunity to improve on his capabilities. His lecturers provided him with well-informed and educational classes, and always provided extra help and assistance whenever he needed it.
“You might face feelings of not being a good enough designer and that the lecturers just don’t understand you. You might feel over-worked from time to time and therefore stressed out and (believe it or not) the worst feeling you will experience is ‘designer’s block.”
When I asked him how he dealt with these feelings, he gave some pretty good advice, which many of us can follow – students as well as working people:
- Prioritise your work.
- Find time for yourself – from a walk around the block to a distracting show on TV.
- Look at other designs, troll the Internet when you find yourself in a designer block rut.
- Chat with designer friends and just bounce ideas around.
“It’s not a walk in the park. […] But in the end, it’s worth it.”
Life may have seemed tough at times, but Brandon doesn’t regret his decision to study at Inscape. If anything, it helped him grow. Something he will forever be thankful for.
“I enjoyed my time studying at Inscape. They pushed all of their students to be better designers by motivating us to work harder and to set the trends, not to simply follow them. To become unique thinkers.”
Life After Inscape
As I mentioned earlier, Brandon is now the owner of his own business. He considers it a stroke of luck, since he didn’t have to spend time job hunting or starting up his own freelancing business. On the topic of job hunting, he says that a great portfolio helps a lot when it comes to finding work. Companies need some sort of surety that the people they are hiring will bring across their values and will fit in with their style – this is what a portfolio needs to tell them.
Fast fact: 93% of Inscape graduates are earning competitive salaries. (This is a really good thing!)
He explains how his degree helped him greatly in the running of his own business.
“We were taught to manage team tasks and to set our own goals – that helped me with taking control of a company. It has also helped me with knowing how to take a client’s vision of their brand and making it a reality for everyone else to understand.”
Some of the different avenues you could explore as a graphic designer include:
- Media Design
- Web Development
There are many more options available, but Brandon suggests exploring them all before settling on just one branch of graphic design. Learning each aspect will help you make a better decision about your future.
A Note On The Freelance World:
Since Brandon owns his own business, I was quite curious about the freelance trend, and asked Brandon what his thoughts on the topic of self-employment were. Freelancing has also become a huge industry in the design world. According to Brandon, many graphic designers take this route as they can choose the projects they work on, the times they work and the rates that they charge. He explains that when you work for a company, that’s not the case.
“Sometimes your own, personal style and likes no longer become the only influence on your designs, but those of your clients may possibly become the largest influence.”
This is often why people choose freelancing, not to lose their style and niche in their work. They like to portray themselves as well as their clients in their work by choosing their own clients and projects.
Advice for Future Graphic Designers
Brandon suggests that aspiring graphic designers do the following:
- practice art and drawing
- read design magazines like GAP
- browse other resources, like magazines or websites about photography, design, and art
From what I’ve heard designers say, you should really do anything and everything that will inspire you and motivate you to create your own designs. Sometimes a walk through a gallery or a hike may ignite a spark and idea in your mind and leads you to create your design pieces, the pieces that will determine your success as a designer.
So start as early as possible in creating your own style and nailing down the talent of drawing. Browse through sites like:
to get your creative juices flowing.
Graphic design will always be needed, and with the growth in technology, graphic designers will become more and more sought-after in fields like web development and animation. Graphic design will continuously become more computer based; it already is. So brush up on some basic programming skills and start playing around with design software. It may help you tremendously with your studies and future job hunting.