Top 6 misconceptions about studying Graphic Design

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It is your last year of high school and you started thinking about which career path to take in life. Graphic design happened to be one on the list but you are still hesitant because you don’t know much about what to expect from it since you’ve never taken anything similar in school. So here are 6 common misconceptions that you might have about the requirements of pursuing graphic design for your career to help you make a more informed decision.

1. You need to know how to draw

While knowing how to draw is certainly an added feature, it is not a necessity. If you know how to pick up a pencil and draw a house with a garden and a dog outside that can be recognized by another human being, it is enough to say you passed the test of sketching. In graphic design, drawing by hand is a necessary tool to mostly communicate an idea (be it a shape, a layout or an icon) to your client, manager or colleague. Anything more than that is just an added value.

2. You need to be creative

If you never tried to create something new, how will you know if you are creative or not? Creativity is a skill that we develop and grow as we learn about the tools and methods of creating. While creativity and the passion to create can be hereditary, it is not a major setback if you don’t have creative genes as long as you are willing to learn and nurture them. With the right mindset, sometimes the dumbest ideas turn to the greatest. We begin by asking ourselves “What if…?”

3. You will be creating advertisements all day

Advertisements is part of the graphic design work scope but it is not all. Graphic design is a vast field, which includes, but not limited to: 

  • Layout and cover design of magazines, newspapers, and books.

  • Layout and page design of websites and mobile Apps.

  • Logo design, business cards, stationary design, packaging.

  • Signage, flyers, posters, tickets.

  • Billboard and online advertisements (Google ads and Social media posts). 

  • And if you dive into motion graphics, you get to also design and animate TV & movie openers, headlines, credits and more.

4. You need to have a tendency for art

Graphic design is NOT an art. A graphic designer may be an artist in his/her free time but he/she is not one at work. Graphic design is the act of solving visual communication problems: It is about making a bulk of information reach its target smoothly and beautifully. You don’t need to recreate the wheel but you do need to make a website/package/flyer/etc. enticing enough to grab and read.

5. You save money

Just like all majors out there, studying graphic design has its expenses. The only difference is that in most majors, you buy a few books, copybooks and a couple of pens at the beginning of each semester, and that would be it until the course ends. In graphic design, you may not have as many books to buy every semester (Yey!), but you will have a lot of drawing, painting and designing tools to buy in the first year. Plus, a lot of trips to the printing house paying for your A4, A3 and plotter-sized projects on a weekly/bi-weekly basis.

6. NONE. It is very easy and anybody can do it

WRONG. Graphic design might be easier than finding a cure to cancer, but it is not easy in the broad term. Unlike Math where you have one solution to a problem and one way to find it; to solve a visual problem in graphic design, you need to go through a lot of options to finally find the one that works best for your product or client. This process takes a lot of thought, a lot of trials and errors, and is something that you develop through your years of practice. The client might not love your solution, they might even hate it, so you will also need to be able to accept critiques on your work and be ready to find another solution that would be more suitable.

I hope this list helped you understand a bit more about studying graphic design and gave you that extra push if you were considering it for your career. If there is anything you’re unsure of or any questions you have in mind, feel free to drop them in the comment section and I will do my best to answer them.

BORED AT WORK?

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As I was working late one evening in the office on an animation; 5 hours into my work, Adobe After Effects decided to freeze. A color wheel was rotating in front of me and all I could do was wait and hope that the software would work again.

After a full minute of me staring at the wheel of death (as I like to call it), I decided to check my phone to find a few messages and an e-newsletter from The Muse.

The subject of the newsletter was... "Slow week at the office?”… My eyes popped out and my eyebrows went up. The email later read "Make the most of it". So I scrolled down to find 4 articles about how to make the most out of my free time at work during slow season (being summer).

There, was me working late at 8pm, hoping that my software doesn't crash on me, and there, was an email about how to fill my empty hours at work... I didn't read any article at the time because I was still smiling at the irony of the moment, but it did make me wonder for a while which work formula was the healthier and more fulfilling to have in life: A fast-paced one with no time to breathe or a slow one with plenty of free time.

So to make a good comparison, I took the time to write the pros and cons of each workplace, while trying to stay as broad as possible so that more fields can benefit from it.

A slow-paced workplace:

Pros:

  • Free time to learn new things from online articles and videos. 

  • Free time to get certified and learn new professional skills.

  • Read a book.

  • Write (considering the environment allows you to).

  • Call and text friends and family who might also have some free time to chat.

  • Can leave the office early and do other things in the day.

  • Chat and bond with your colleagues.

  • Have a long lunch break that you can enjoy with others at work or outside.

  • Organize your desktop and clean up your desk (but that would be considered working, no?)

  • Boredom can make you more creative. (1)

Cons:

  • You might end up only scrolling Facebook and Instagram for silly videos and the upscale versions of your friends.

  • You might spend it playing games online or on your mobile.

  • It might make other colleagues jealous and resentful of you if they had more work to do.

A fast-paced workplace:

Pros:

  • You feel needed and useful.

  • Potential opportunities for learning and growth.

  • You learn to work faster and, more importantly, smarter.

  • You never get bored.

  • You might learn how to multi-task.

  • You can see the results of your work on the big scale.

Cons:

  • You're constantly under pressure, while you know that stress is bad for your health.

  • You can feel like you’re not doing enough or that you should be doing more.

  • No time for meditation, contemplation or building hobbies.

  • No energy left at the end of the day to be there for friends and family.

  • No time to invest in yourself with learning new skills.

Now, the uses of “might” and “can” have not been randomly used here. Not all people will utilize their free time in the ways cited above, and not all jobs have the same tasks. Therefore, in some cases, learning opportunities and multi-tasking do not apply.

Is there anything you would change or add in these lists? And did you find yourself to lean towards a particular type of workplace? Share your answers in the comments below and I might cover them in the future.



(1) This statement was not drawn from personal experience, but from a few online sources:
https://www.wired.com/2017/01/clive-thompson-7/
https://qz.com/1020976/the-scientific-link-between-boredom-and-creativity/
http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20170719-how-moments-of-boredom-help-us-achieve-more

What this blog is about

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A blog was never something that I planned to create when I built this website; for two main reasons: Firstly, blogs in the recent years have earned a reputation of being a place for people to let out their frustrations and anger against the world in (mostly) political and social issues. Secondly, I was never the type of girl to be committed to a diary in my young age. So I never built the habit of using writing as a mean of expression, instead I reverted to arts and crafts; not to mention that diaries back in the 90’s had locks that could easily be removed and put back! ;)

However, over the last few years, the need to have a journal, or say, something legitimate to place my thoughts in had grown. I have been told more than once by visitors of my website that it would be nice for me to have a blog in there somewhere as it seems that it would enhance the user’s experience with my website as well as help him/her know more about me and my work.

It wasn’t the marketing aspect or the self-publicizing role that has convinced me to create a blog, but it was rather the ability to have an informal place to show random sketches unrelated to specific projects, express my thoughts and opinions about concerning issues around me, things that I can write once and share over and over again since not every day I get the chance to sit in a calm environment and get to writing with a nice flow of ideas. Also, I did discover over the last couple of years that this method of communication has proven itself to be more compatible with me than the verbal one since it gives me the option to carve the words I have to say without being interrupted or distracted, which tends to break my chain of thoughts in a second.

And so this is it. That’s what my blog will all be about: thoughts, sketches and some work processes… for now.