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Graphic Design Career?

Discussion in 'Creative Arts' started by modena1_2003, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. modena1_2003

    modena1_2003 F1 Rookie

    Aug 17, 2005
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    Jon
    I'm considering changing my major to graphic design from business management.

    There are gifts we are given that would be awful to let go so early. I'm of the "only life once" camp, and I feel that to spend 30yrs. pushing invoices around would keep me from really letting the colors bleed out.

    If there is anybody here who can give some insight into the world of graphic design, especially typography and a blend of print media and photography, I'd really appreciate it.

    Hows the market look in the next year? What's the vertical movement like? Good, bad, indifferent on the topic? Let me know.

    _J
     
  2. GatorFL

    GatorFL Moderator
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    Nov 18, 2005
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    I am a print salesperson so I work with designers all the time. You're considering a very competitive career. The reason it is so competitive is that there have been mass layoffs across the board with every company that employs designers, from top to bottom. In addition everything from multiple universities to trade schools are churning out designers by the thousands. There are hundreds of thousands of designers that are currently "freelancing". Not to be a Debbie Downer but I think you can do better than a graphic design career. PM me if you want more info I will give you my # and we can talk.
     
  3. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

    Jul 28, 2010
    7,263
    Calgary, Canada
    this is an interesting post
    like the OP i too have rekindled my design/art interest, but i'm not sure that i could suceed with it only P/T, and if i throw all-in F/T is it folly

    either way, i'd like to get into digital graphics somehow, evenif only for my own art work production...it seems that things are now where you couldn't move into any graphics career without being proficient in it

    OP there are SO many sectors of the design world, is there one area in particular that you wanted to pursue?
     
  4. GatorFL

    GatorFL Moderator
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    Check out www.elance.com if you want to see the going rates for out of work designers.
     
  5. velocedog

    velocedog Karting

    Jun 6, 2007
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    I have been a graphic designer for 25+ years, and it is possible to make a good living at it.

    Any career in the creative arts is outside of the mainstream. A combination of your talent, ambition and luck will determine your fate - which can range from rock star to pizza delivery guy.

    There are very few openings in the rock star catagory ;-) you usually have to create your own, and most of these individuals are prodigies from an early age.

    Just my opinion.
     
  6. GatorFL

    GatorFL Moderator
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    Nov 18, 2005
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    There are exceptions to any rule, of course.

    I get calls weekly from old associates begging me for contacts. I simply don't have them. I know of several large outfits here in FL who are sending work out to India where they can get it for pennies on the dollar. I know a guy who is a designer, he graduated from a highly regarded program. Currently he makes about $8/hour as a rentacop at a local college. So YMMV.
     
  7. HotShoe

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    In short, the pay stinks.

    There are so many people out there who call themselves designers that the market is flooded. Factor this in with the fact that clients prey on it and pit everyone against each other in an undercut war. Not too mention print is pretty much a dying medium. New media/web design is better but only slightly so. Again the problem is simply too many applicants.

    The exception is if you can land a gig at a big agency or strike out on your own. The latter is difficult because you'll be competing against people who are so desperate they work for peanuts. Beware of anyone that wants work for free or who wants work done for next to nothing in the promise of big pay later. There are a lot of sweat shops in the graphics industry so be careful. I see many young artist and designers offering photos, art, graphic work for free so they can get "in" and I just shake my head. You'd be surprised how many clients take advantage of this and just go from freebie to freebie. It devalues the industry and hurts everyone but people are desperate now.

    Sorry to be so negative. Best of luck.
     
  8. anunakki

    anunakki Five Time F1 World Champ
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    #8 anunakki, Jan 12, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
    This is pretty dead on.

    Im not a graphic designer but I am a professional sculptor and the same applies.

    There are basically three tiers to a career in the arts.

    Tier 1 is where 80% of the people sit and the pay is horrible...$50k year or less. Usually much less. These people are average to good talent levels but usually poor business/marketing skills.

    Tier 2 is where 15% reside and they make much more than the average person. Usually high 5 figures to low 6 figures. They usually have above average talent or above average business/marketing sense. Or a combination of both.

    Tier 3 is where that last 5% are and they are millionaires. Sometimes its artistic brilliance, sometimes brilliant business/marketing sense. Usually a combination of both.

    Most people are not honest with themselves about how talented they are. They like to convince themselves that they have above average talent but are victims of bad luck. When you meet a brilliant artist you know it. They shine like the brightest star in the sky.

    Here is the thing about a career in graphic arts. Just about anyone can learn the programs in a few months. Nobody is going to pay top dollar because you know how to use Photoshop or Illustrator. They are paying for your talent...they are paying you because you can do what 80% of the others cannot , even though you all use the same programs. Dont forget that. So if you arent at the top of the natural talent pile be prepared to just be a low paid cog in the graphic arts wheel.

    Here is a great example of a brilliant artist (and good friend of mine) who makes 6 figure per year making monster masks for high end mask collectors.

    http://schellstudio.com/about.php

    His brilliance was apparent even as a child. I was lucky enough to hire him when he was about 21 years old. He quickly outgrew my company and went off to great fame on his own. He charges $5k+ to make a mask. He can easily get two done per week. Do the math.
     
  9. TG

    TG F1 Veteran
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    #9 TG, Jan 12, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
    More of the same, but I'd say there's a ceiling unless you desire doing something more with it.
    If you're truly interested, check design blogs for inspiration, youtube tutorials & open up photoshop.
    Most companies regardless of industry will replace you should you decide you're worth more. Dime a dozen.
    And my experience is through situations only. Start networking, I have a demand without ever putting it out there.
    I know people who have careers just by using youtube. I have been doing freelance since 15, then photography & websites.
    Full circle - if you desire something better you will have the ability to convert that as all business projects need the creative part.
     
  10. HotShoe

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    You have great points and I greatly respect your work and outlook but there is a world of difference between concept design and graphics/print work, at least in my experience. My close friend was working at a major agency and is one of the best I've ever seen at print but he hit an earning ceiling due to not knowing web apps. The potential of strictly graphics is very limited. Most of the large agencies are sweat shops with high turn around.

    Also, Photoshop certainly can't be mastered in 4 months. Granted anyone can learn it but to be a true master by industry standards takes IMO much longer. Not to brag but I've blown so called "experts" out of the water with PS skills but it took many years to master and I am continually learning. I use it now more to paint/concept art than graphics.

    To be marketable and succeed you have to be very versatile unless you have your own agency and specialize. In my experience you have to be proficient at Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Color Correction/Preprocess, at the very minimum. There are literally thousands of people who easily fit this bill and are indeed very talented. Learn as many apps as you can. I'm always looking for new apps to learn and currently am working on Zbrush and Modo. It's fun o learn new software and it keeps you sharp.

    Just check out www.conceptart.org to see what the talent base is like. It is competitive beyond belief. So much so I would highly suggest specializing.

    In fact, if you are any bit artistic I would suggest going after concept/character design due to better pay and better opportunities. You could draw your butt off and stay active at ConceptArt and be picked up in no time, but again, the deep end has some serious, serious talent. beauty is, you can work from anywhere and work on a variety of projects.

    I'm no expert but I've had many years of experience searching for the right fit. I've dabbled in graphics and have many good friends who love it but I personally don't see the potential. I think if you loved graphics and wanted to pursue it I would suggest motion graphics as a more lucrative and faster growing alternative.

    Just my two cents.
     
  11. modena1_2003

    modena1_2003 F1 Rookie

    Aug 17, 2005
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    Nice little round-table we have here. Great feedback fellas, thanks!
    _J
     
  12. anunakki

    anunakki Five Time F1 World Champ
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    #12 anunakki, Jan 12, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
    I dont think we're disagreeing.

    I simplified my post and you elaborated on it.

    As far as character design opportunities....I know that world well and Im friends with dozens of character designers. The top guns. Ive known Aaron Sims, who is arguably the top character designer in the world, since we were in our early twenties.

    These guys (99% are male) are very well paid but they are also amazingly talented and their software skills are incidental. You could hand them a box of prismacolors and they would still create amazing designs. Its raw talent.

    Aaron Sims, Jordu Schell , Miles Teves, Crash McCrery, Carlos Huante etc were all amazing even in their teens well before there was any software.

    Also, there is a huge difference between a designer and a renderer. I meet lots of amazing renderers but they cant design a character (though they think they can).

    Back to your friend who hit a glass ceiling because they didnt know web apps. Thats what im saying in my earlier post where I point out that you can be a great artist but if you dont have the business chops you wont reach the top. Knowing you need to learn/stay current with technology is part of having good business sense.

    I sense you are coming at this from an 'employee' mindset. Being an employee is not the path to success, regardless of how talented one is.

    If someone hits a 'glass ceiling' and it isnt because of their talent/skill level then that means its time to branch out on their own. This is where having business/marketing skill comes in. If they have that then their is no ceiling to what they can accomplish or earn. If they dont have that then back to being an employee it is and they simply need to accept they dont have the proper skill set to reach the next level.

    Without tooting my horn too loudly I reached the top of two creative industries and Im not one of the greatest artists working in either. But I have better business/marketing skills than 99.9% of the artists that are more talented than I am.
     
  13. HotShoe

    HotShoe F1 Rookie
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    I didn't mean to sound like I was disagreeing and apologize if I came off across as such. As you mentioned I was just adding on to what you said.

    It's funny that you mentioned rendering vs. creating. I've been seeing a negative trend in the kids I mentor the last five years where the entire focus is on "pretty" PS renders. Many of the aspiring artists are using these incredible tools as a shortcut instead of focusing on the fundamentals. Run a few filters, add a lens flare, copy the latest graphic fad and voila they are instant designers. Scary thing is they know nothing of drawing, color theory, composition, etc.

    I tell every kid I tutor that anyone can recreate a photo into realistic art or PS a car/image into something slightly different. The people that succeed and get hired are the ones who can create original ideas from their head, not parrot what they see or google. It's too bad so many people oooh and ahh of photorealistic art because it hinders kid's progress. Photo realist art has it's place but it is merely a learned technical skill and not creative IMHO.

    Unfortunately many people don't want to put the time into drawing. They just want to have pretty pics to show off on Facebook. My qualifying question when I get a new student is to ask to see their sketchbook. If they don't have one I know it's going to be a long haul to get on track.
     
  14. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

    Jul 28, 2010
    7,263
    Calgary, Canada
    i like this statment

    i see so many painting / art pieces which are not more then (and this is not meant to belittle the effort that goes into the work) a scale up of a photo, and painted or rendered exactly as is in the picture, either as the whole picture or part of it

    to me there is everything to be said about the subject being created our of the artists idea, and the corrisponding perspective, technique, coloring, etc...all part of the creation

    sure, i use photos too, but usually i use several in order to reference as i sketch my own drawing in the way i envisioned it

    i can't say that i have any illusions about becoming a "professional designer" but an independant artist? sure, why not...primarily it is for the enjoyment of it, and if something more comes of it then so be it

    for the OP i would say that it should be the area of art/design that really turns you on, because that's what will keep you fueled & ambitious of the work, and those you in turn are marketing to will see that passion = sale

    IMHO


     
  15. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

    Jul 28, 2010
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    that would be a great insight for the OP to the driven part of the business, before making any decisions of training or career move for himself


    i'd really like to know more insight as well myself


     
  16. velocedog

    velocedog Karting

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    "they are also amazingly talented and their software skills are incidental. You could hand them a box of prismacolors and they would still create amazing designs."

    This is really the key element IMO
     
  17. AgentPenguin

    AgentPenguin F1 Veteran
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    Jobs are not that easy to get, pay is "eh" - but the fun & excitement you have is worth it. I can't imagine trading garphics and artwork during the day for boring spreadsheet work and writing project plans. I love what I do (and can even brag about it!)
     
  18. MattiValhalla

    MattiValhalla Karting

    #18 MattiValhalla, Apr 18, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
    Interesting thread here...

    Why the arts? What is so important about it?

    Creative people shape society, start trends, influence culture and brand everything in this world that we live, work and play in. All of it – everything you use, eat, wear, touch and yes, drive... was conceived by and touched by an artist.

    I've been a professional creative director/designer/illustrator for 28 years (20 of those as a freelancer/gun-for-hire) and I can tell you that 'yes' there have been some horribly tough years (financially), but I've also been blessed with fantastic years. Most importantly, I've had moments that I would never have experienced had I chosen any other profession. It is the "intangible" faculty – a sense of self-gratification and euphoria paramount to winning the lottery I would surmise – when a project comes together from concept to delivery, all through the inherent, creative DNA that resides within one's self.

    I am from (and still live and work out of) an extremely small town. I made contacts within my area, out of my region, out of the country – long before there was an internet or any computers... old school all the way at the beginning: hand-drawn work, logotype, illustration, etc. Of course, all of that has changed, but one thing that hasn't is doing work anywhere/everywhere. 'No fear' is the mantra. Believe in yourself and your talents. Press on and work hard. Know that some jobs will be small; others, magnificently high-paying. And remember that the size of a client, their wealth, affluence, name, etc don't always equate to a good client. In fact, I've been burned by more 'millionaires' and 'big corporations' than the client that truly appreciates my work. Often times, the aforementioned don't know the difference between good design and pedestrian quality work.

    If you decide to take this journey, live and die by this:
    Never discount your work. You do not have to live by the old sobriquet of, "starving artist." (Note: for those of you that doubt me, google the name Damien Hirst.)
    It seems that 'low budget clients' are in great abundance, today. Oftentimes these 'low budget tire kickers' spend big money on their office, their computers, their clothing, their car, restaurant diners with their clients, entertainment, etc...they spend big money on everything but the very thing they need to sustain and grow their business – what 'we' creative people do. I've learned from experience that 99% of these types of clients never appreciate or own up to a higher level of work – both intellectually and financially. We, 'creatives/designers/illustrators' have a talent and expertise that should be as respected, rewarded and as equitable to doctors, lawyers, pilots, actors, et al and we should never be categorized as the 'starving artist-I-do-this-because-it-is-fun' B.S.

    Don't take this career path to be a client's psychiatrist, banker, accountant or private investor. (If a client cannot see the value in what "we" bring to the table, then honestly, I'd rather spend my time hanging out with my dogs in my backyard with a nice glass of wine while watching the grass grow.) Sure, being financially stable with some extra dough to spare is cool. But if I had gone into this career for just the money alone, I would have stayed in med school. Only a true artist knows what I am talking about when I say, "follow your heart."

    They get what they can pay for. Nothing less; nothing more.

    Follow your heart with your talent in tow and you'll reap life's just rewards.

    If you had told me two decades ago when I was very young, (making nary $11,000 per year) that before hitting 40 years old I would have had a handful of cool cars (an F430, 911C4S and a '69 Boss 302 among them), a killer house, and be my own boss, working on some really cool projects that came from my head and my hand... I would have said, " you're dreaming..."

    I know a lot of very rich people. And honestly, I do not want to hang around most of them... many of them are miserable, condescending, irritable, narcissistic, megalomaniacal power junkies. And I would venture to believe that most have never really 'felt' what true passion is all about. Life is not about acquisition and "He Who Has The Most Toys Wins." Aaron Spelling built a 56,000 sq ft house, valued about $50mil in 1991. And you know what Aaron Spelling is? Dead.
    Life is too damned short not to really do, exactly what you want. And if you have true, innate talent, no billionaire nor any amount of money can acquire "it." You are born with it or you're not.

    If you want to discuss some additional pros and cons, as well as pitfalls, you can connect with me here: http://be.net/touchard

    I'd be glad to communicate with you.
    Good Luck! Go for it...!

    And no matter where you live, support all your artists - be it design, music, dance, bespoke artisans... all of it.
     
  19. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

    Jul 28, 2010
    7,263
    Calgary, Canada
    great post Matt

    i can't disagree with any point of your post ....i do agree with previous posts too, that with the digitial change in art media, the professional and even some degree the private markets for artwork / illustration, have become flooded ...definitely different from 28 years ago when you first started, i'm sure LOL

    i also agree with the previous post, that those with true talent will stand out form the rest, regardless

    so it begs the question, as the OP inquired ...where and how to "break in"?

    as for myself, i can only say that i intend to continue now doing the artwork i enjoy, primarily for myself ...my biggest challenge now is to just "create, create, create" ....to build up an "art work ethique" (so to speak), to hone specific skills, so that i can create the quality of images i want to achieve!


     
  20. ferrariartist

    ferrariartist F1 Rookie

    Feb 21, 2003
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    Wow...

    Mattivalhalla:
    I needed to read that right now. Perhaps on the verge of some sparse years right now thanx to my design/illustration-job going south (figuratively and literally). 20+ years at a job I just loved and was top in my department. I am hardly in the F430 tax bracket but it felt great driving to work Monday morning doing what I felt God put me here to do and enjoyed it immensely. I feel lucky to have had that... how many people slug ALL their lives - 40 years plus - at a job they hate just to earn a living. Maybe thats ahead of me, maybe not.. but noone can take those 20+ years away from me...

    Trying to kick the Art-with-capital-A business into higher gear but its hard... people offering insulting amounts of money for pieces that take a 2 or three weeks to pull off. Sometimes it feels like society bends over backwards to ensure artists themselves die penniless, THEN start selling their work years later for 250GTO prices. VanGogh couldnt get his butcher to take a painting in trade for some meat... Extreme case, but you get my drift...
    Ahwell... Enough whining... :)


    I dont know what prompted you to post that today at this moment in time, be it fate or devine intervention. But a thousand thank-yous, kind sir... you have no idea....

    GT
     
  21. JeremyJon

    JeremyJon F1 Veteran

    Jul 28, 2010
    7,263
    Calgary, Canada
    #21 JeremyJon, Apr 18, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
    hey Grant
    let me add in by saying, i'm personally inspired by your artwork, have searched it out online, and have spent much time looking at in detail, and being inspired by
    please never give up, you are in the tops IMHO!


     
  22. MattiValhalla

    MattiValhalla Karting

    Hey brothers,

    Glad to hear from all of you; you all have great talent.

    Artwork, like anything creative, is very subjective. However, never forget the times when your art made an impqact in someone's life.

    Like when your mother said, "I really think you should take a look at the creative or liberal arts..." Never forget when your buddies in school asked, "Hey, can you draw a top fueler or a funny car for me, like Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen racing against Don "The Snake" Prudhomme..." Never forget the times when you were asked to do a logo for the local Humane Society and you did it (and more) without pay because quite simply, you love dogs and cats. Or when a family member or good friend asked you to design their wedding invitation. And the time when a peer told you that you were, in fact, "...a genius." You have had that happen; admit it. And that is, why you do what you do. Nothing can explain it. No amount of money is equitable to it. And you remember moments in your life, because of "it."

    It's not about "zeroes" in bank accounts.
    It's not about fame.
    It's not about being better than someone.
    It is only this – it is "you"
    Only you, can exploit, motivate, inspire, provoke, invoke and deliver what is inside, "you."

    Just keep making art.
    All the best artists do it.
    Jeff Beck. Guitar God. Sure, he takes a rest from time to time to charge the batteries, but when he delivers, it is monumental. Someone mentioned Van Gogh. He died, virtually penniless. Did it matter. Hell, no. Be the Artist that You are. And just keep making art. It is all connected; all of us and all of what we create.

    I have looked at the art posted herein, within this site.
    Amazing.
    Inspiring.
    Breathtaking.
    I am humbled.
    But that's what good art is, and how good art is.

    It leaves me wanting more.

    Awesome!
     
  23. MattiValhalla

    MattiValhalla Karting

    You should send a digital portfolio of your work to every AD and CD of every major automotive magazine, publication, journal, concours, show, event and auction that you can ascertain and acquire. U.S./Canada/Europe

    CoverLetter
    Brief Bio (150 words)
    Business Card
    Digital Portfolio
    Contact Info...

    all it takes is one job to come from your time...

    Your work is very nice!

    Matti
     
  24. ferrariartist

    ferrariartist F1 Rookie

    Feb 21, 2003
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    Grant Thomas
    Thank you. Very much. I have just scored my first concours event cover - in exchange for advertising and - if I can get there - a booth. No money. (not even some raw meat :) ) but hopefully it will lead to some...

    And thank you for chiming in. Your posts here are very inspiring and encouraging, at a time when I have needed both very badly...


    Thanks! Much appreciated...

    GT
     

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