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Old Oct 30, 2012, 05:55 PM   #1
DaPoonet
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New but prepared but i still need HELP!

HI,

Just wanted to start off saying i want to be a Graphics Designer. Currently Im Active duty Army and want to get out and finish my BA in GD. I have 3 years to hone my skills because i just found out im going to Germany for the next said 3 years. I just got back from Afghanistan about 40 days ago and was gifted a 27 inch Imac (maxed out) and CS6 master collection. and i picked up a bamboo tablet.

so my question is what books and software do i really need, what do i need to focus on? are there different fields to Graphics Design? what college classes do i need to take? and how do i get better at what i love doing, creating.

TL;DR i got the gear but how do i use it.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 12:07 AM   #2
sweetchilliphil
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Now I understand why you said prepared.

You have a computer, great. But before you buy ANYTHING. Go and do a degree or cert or whatever. You need training. Just like the army, you also need training in the arts.

Find a course, study hard. Don't listen to people who say "you can learn all you need on the internet". This is only partly true. I know a lot of young guys who learnt a lot of photoshop tutorials on the net, but come out as half baked, very uncreative, and overly cocky graphic artists that don't understand the rules and ideas behind a good design.

Studying, helps you focus and learn from others. Don't worry about software, most of that CAN be learnt from the internet. But things like design language, white space, composition, line, form, shape etc. Can only be truly understood with study. It forces you to meet deadlines, collab with others, train for studio setups etc.

In fact, graphic design isn't the only creative field out there. Why not look at marketing agencies? Creatives literally just create. There's still Motion Graphics, set design, art direction, web design... the list goes on. The term "graphic designer" is a pretty broad term now.

You've got adobe, so you're pretty much set. What you really need to do now is find a course and DO IT. Once you learn design, proper design, then you'll know for sure what to do with your tools.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 12:46 AM   #3
citizenzen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaPoonet View Post
so my question is what books and software do i really need
For software, CS6 is a good place to start, though depending on your interests and talents, 3D modeling and video software might also be an avenues to explore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaPoonet View Post
what do i need to focus on?
Right now focus on developing a love, capability and an eye for good art and design. Start broad and over time sharpen your focus on how you want to apply it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaPoonet View Post
are there different fields to Graphics Design?
Many. In fact people probably overlook a number of them. Design possibilities extend way beyond print.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaPoonet View Post
and how do i get better at what i love doing, creating.
With practice.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 08:12 AM   #4
davedee65
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Ignore the software for now, it's just a tool to enable you to visualise your ideas, do not rely on it to be creative in of itself. The best computer and software in the world do not a designer make! You need to read, research, absorb design and art of all kinds, it's around you every where. Learn to draw, sketch and visualise on paper. Appreciate what is great design but just as importantly appreciate what is bad design. And practice, practice, practice.

Cheers
D
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 09:05 AM   #5
DaPoonet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetchilliphil View Post
Now I understand why you said prepared.

You have a computer, great. But before you buy ANYTHING. Go and do a degree or cert or whatever. You need training. Just like the army, you also need training in the arts.

Find a course, study hard. Don't listen to people who say "you can learn all you need on the internet". This is only partly true. I know a lot of young guys who learnt a lot of photoshop tutorials on the net, but come out as half baked, very uncreative, and overly cocky graphic artists that don't understand the rules and ideas behind a good design.

Studying, helps you focus and learn from others. Don't worry about software, most of that CAN be learnt from the internet. But things like design language, white space, composition, line, form, shape etc. Can only be truly understood with study. It forces you to meet deadlines, collab with others, train for studio setups etc.

In fact, graphic design isn't the only creative field out there. Why not look at marketing agencies? Creatives literally just create. There's still Motion Graphics, set design, art direction, web design... the list goes on. The term "graphic designer" is a pretty broad term now.

You've got adobe, so you're pretty much set. What you really need to do now is find a course and DO IT. Once you learn design, proper design, then you'll know for sure what to do with your tools.
Thank you very much for all the info, but where do i start?
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 09:10 PM   #6
sweetchilliphil
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Originally Posted by DaPoonet View Post
Thank you very much for all the info, but where do i start?
Start looking at courses and degrees that you can study. I'm not a US citizen, so I'm not sure what Uni you can go to, but they are out there.

As someone just said, your software is simply tools. Don't rely on them. I know many successful designers who just use paper and paint. But start researching. Pick up a good design magazine and look at what the world is doing. Motion design, industrial design, print design, product design, stage design... etc. And work out what you like and enjoy. Don't be afraid to experiment in other forms of design, just to see.

But start with studies. Get a degree and start working hard. Your time in Uni is your time to discover, create and experiment. You won't get that once you start working. So do it while you can.

Found an article based on US Universities, so it might help you. Good luck.

http://justcreative.com/2011/01/11/t...-choosing-one/
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 03:38 AM   #7
DaPoonet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetchilliphil View Post
Start looking at courses and degrees that you can study. I'm not a US citizen, so I'm not sure what Uni you can go to, but they are out there.

As someone just said, your software is simply tools. Don't rely on them. I know many successful designers who just use paper and paint. But start researching. Pick up a good design magazine and look at what the world is doing. Motion design, industrial design, print design, product design, stage design... etc. And work out what you like and enjoy. Don't be afraid to experiment in other forms of design, just to see.

But start with studies. Get a degree and start working hard. Your time in Uni is your time to discover, create and experiment. You won't get that once you start working. So do it while you can.

Found an article based on US Universities, so it might help you. Good luck.

http://justcreative.com/2011/01/11/t...-choosing-one/
Thanks for a great head start friend
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 07:15 AM   #8
960design
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I was in a similiar situation as you. I left the Army, knew I wanted to get into software design. Got on the books, got a Bachelors in Computer Science ( with honors even! ). Tried to get a job every where and could not, yep, you guessed it, no experience. So I did what everybody else does when they cannot get a job: I started a company. Sure did, dot Inc and all. I seriously have more work than I can keep up with.

So here's my humble advice, get a degree, but don't forget to get the experience as well. A fantastic place, for you, is with companies like 99designs(dot)com. You will learn a whole lot and be humbled by some serious talent out there. You've got three years to hone your skills and win some money in the process. Even if you do not win a single contract, you will have literally dozens of projects to show your potential boss. If they like what they see, guess what, your hired. You will also learn the tools, the lingo and through competition you will learn the difference between what you feel ( or taught in school ) is good design and what pays the bills.

Good luck, hit me up in three years, I'd be happy to see your portfolio and if I like what I see...

just me
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 08:26 AM   #9
jeremy h
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Graphic design, well any design is about thinking. You have to learn to think in a certain way. Note I said 'certain' not 'particular'. The best designers have an ability to combine what appear to be opposing thoughts, metaphors, whatever - bash them together and create something that communicates in a fresh, clever and engaging way. As designers all do it slightly differently but what we do is similar.

Any design education needs to teach you this, not software skills. (They'll come anyway.) If you take one thing from the army take the idea that given the right training just about anyone can be taught to do anything. The problem you'll face is that there's a lot of courses / education that just teach the mechanics as that's easy and measurable. If you decide to go on a formal course educate yourself first on what a designer is and how they try to think and ask the college what they do to teach this. Ignore all the flashy computers and ask do they win student design awards, how many projects with crits a week (the more the better), do we have sessions where you all just play with ideas / thinking using just markers etc etc?

I would start by reading some books. Forget about software manuals and buy a pile of those portfolio type books. I would also buy the following book. Don't just look at the pictures read the bits at the back about how to have ideas. Think very carefully about what they say. The bit by Ray Gregory is particularly useful. It's sort of an enlightenment thing - once you've figured out this sort of thinking shorthand you won't be able to stop!

Good luck!
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 08:45 AM   #10
lucasgladding
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In my experience, a graphic design degree isn't a requirement for everyone, though it might be the best way to learn what you need. I'm self-taught, and have been doing graphic design and software development professionally for 7 years. Theory is important, but I think anyone with enough interest can learn what they need with reading and application/experience.

My recommendation: don't wait for formal training, but don't dismiss it either. Look for inspiration, and use Illustrator and Photoshop as your sketchpad. Purchase a few books about CS6, and do some reading to familiarize yourself with the concepts. I read books front-to-back, then re-read applying the concepts and doing the tutorials.

Good luck with the learning

Luke

http://dribbble.com/lucasgladding
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 12:58 PM   #11
fig
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 960design View Post
I was in a similiar situation as you. I left the Army, knew I wanted to get into software design. Got on the books, got a Bachelors in Computer Science ( with honors even! ). Tried to get a job every where and could not, yep, you guessed it, no experience. So I did what everybody else does when they cannot get a job: I started a company. Sure did, dot Inc and all. I seriously have more work than I can keep up with.

So here's my humble advice, get a degree, but don't forget to get the experience as well. A fantastic place, for you, is with companies like 99designs(dot)com. You will learn a whole lot and be humbled by some serious talent out there. You've got three years to hone your skills and win some money in the process. Even if you do not win a single contract, you will have literally dozens of projects to show your potential boss. If they like what they see, guess what, your hired. You will also learn the tools, the lingo and through competition you will learn the difference between what you feel ( or taught in school ) is good design and what pays the bills.

Good luck, hit me up in three years, I'd be happy to see your portfolio and if I like what I see...

just me
I have a really hard time pointing anyone towards somewhere like 99designs due to some basic philosophical issues I have with doing work and not getting paid, although I can understand how that could be beneficial for someone starting out to create portfolio pieces.

Another thought to the OP: not sure if you're a person of faith, but churches can be GREAT places to dive into media without much experience. A lot of places have a need for design, editing, and animation without much budget, it can be a good place to get your feet wet and create a lot of work while benefitting something in a positive way. Non-profits are another similar area to explore.

You've gotten some good advice here, but something I haven't seen explicitly mentioned: learn to design, not operate software. Anyone can "create" something in Illustrator and Photoshop, whether they can create something that communicates something is an entirely different thing all together.

You're just getting started so don't rush it, look around and see if there's maybe a community college with a design program and take a course or two while you explore on your own.

Check out Video Copilot to get started in After Effects (start with their Basics series) and there's lots of great books that will give you an introduction to design. Off the top of my head I'd recommend Design Elements and Thinking With Type, Graphic Design Thinking and Logo Design Love are two others you might check out.

Hope that helps, and thanks for your service.
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 02:51 PM   #12
lucasgladding
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fig View Post
I have a really hard time pointing anyone towards somewhere like 99designs due to some basic philosophical issues I have with doing work and not getting paid, although I can understand how that could be beneficial for someone starting out to create portfolio pieces.
Agreed. Services like 99designs commoditize the industry. Designers are already undervalued, and spec work encourages that. Going further, spec work probably hurts your chances of landing a job later.

If you're looking for experience, there are better ways to get it. Try redesigning some popular sites to build your skills, and volunteer yourself for design-related NFP opportunities. If you have a good sense for design, you can find paying work without competing for "prizes".

http://dribbble.com/search?q=facebook+redesign

Last edited by lucasgladding; Nov 1, 2012 at 02:58 PM.
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 05:28 PM   #13
DaPoonet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fig View Post
I have a really hard time pointing anyone towards somewhere like 99designs due to some basic philosophical issues I have with doing work and not getting paid, although I can understand how that could be beneficial for someone starting out to create portfolio pieces.

Another thought to the OP: not sure if you're a person of faith, but churches can be GREAT places to dive into media without much experience. A lot of places have a need for design, editing, and animation without much budget, it can be a good place to get your feet wet and create a lot of work while benefitting something in a positive way. Non-profits are another similar area to explore.

You've gotten some good advice here, but something I haven't seen explicitly mentioned: learn to design, not operate software. Anyone can "create" something in Illustrator and Photoshop, whether they can create something that communicates something is an entirely different thing all together.

You're just getting started so don't rush it, look around and see if there's maybe a community college with a design program and take a course or two while you explore on your own.

Check out Video Copilot to get started in After Effects (start with their Basics series) and there's lots of great books that will give you an introduction to design. Off the top of my head I'd recommend Design Elements and Thinking With Type, Graphic Design Thinking and Logo Design Love are two others you might check out.

Hope that helps, and thanks for your service.
yes it does help a lot, lol. im trying to just put this all into a outlet that will be productive because i still have a solid 3 years of work ahead of me before i can do school.
i made this today, just taking steps forward to plant my feet and get running. what ya think? meh? just a style or something (idk what its called yet...) for a stock pic that photographers (i have a reble 3 btw) can make as an overlay for some pics... idk just trying some stuff.
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Old Nov 1, 2012, 08:13 PM   #14
DaPoonet
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Sorry here
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Old Nov 2, 2012, 07:35 AM   #15
960design
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I have a really hard time pointing anyone towards somewhere like 99designs due to some basic philosophical issues I have with doing work and not getting paid, although I can understand how that could be beneficial for someone starting out to create portfolio pieces.
Right, right. I wasn't very clear there. It's not about getting paid, it's about seeing what pays. Competition hones skills, I'd recommend it for anyone. Forget about the money, especially when still in college. It is time to learn how to design and the best way is to learn from mass market success. Use companies like 99designs to 'learn' about good design.

Quote:
Agreed. Services like 99designs commoditize the industry. Designers are already undervalued, and spec work encourages that. Going further, spec work probably hurts your chances of landing a job later.
I guess, I should have stated, I live in the United States, we pretty much live by capitalism over here. I'm not sure where creating a portfolio would hurt your chances of landing a job later.

Churches are a great place to start. Have you seen most of their websites, good grief, they all need some help, because the faith thing just doesn't hold true with design. That was intended sarcasm ( just to help our non American friends reading this ).

Good luck and happy Thanksgiving to you.
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Old Nov 3, 2012, 08:00 PM   #16
lucasgladding
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Right, right. I wasn't very clear there. It's not about getting paid, it's about seeing what pays. Competition hones skills, I'd recommend it for anyone. Forget about the money, especially when still in college. It is time to learn how to design and the best way is to learn from mass market success. Use companies like 99designs to 'learn' about good design.

I guess, I should have stated, I live in the United States, we pretty much live by capitalism over here. I'm not sure where creating a portfolio would hurt your chances of landing a job later.

Churches are a great place to start. Have you seen most of their websites, good grief, they all need some help, because the faith thing just doesn't hold true with design. That was intended sarcasm ( just to help our non American friends reading this ).

Good luck and happy Thanksgiving to you.
Most great designers wouldn't touch 99designs, so it's probably not a great first resource for inspiration, not to say you won't find anything worthwhile on there. dribbble is where I would go first, and you'll find the best names in the industry there. There are some great books and magazines in most bookstores. Finally, spend some time finding your own favorite designers, and follow their work. You can also email or tweet them for ideas about what they use for inspiration.

There's nothing wrong with a portfolio, but most designers won't react well to spec work in a portfolio/résumé. Spec work would disappear without participating designers, so everyone who has participated is a (small) part of the problem. If I liked someones work, I probably wouldn't write them off altogether, but participation in spec work would hurt their chances. At the very least, I would bring it up.

That said, I agree 100% with the church and NFP recommendation. In university, I designed the student union website the first year, and handled most design work for two campus restaurants for the following 3 years. When I finished, I created the website for my church, among other things. That experience played a big part in the success I have now.

I now work full-time as a developer, but do the design work for my own apps, and am regularly hired for design/illustration/etc for clients when I have time available.

Kind regards

Lucas

For more information about spec work, and why I keep harping about it:
http://www.no-spec.com

----------

From Rolling Stone:
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics...oster-20111019

Quote:
Monteiro — better known to his Twitter followers as @Mike_FTW — is the design director at Mule Design. "I find it ironic that the campaign is kicking off this big jobs program by asking designers to do free work for them," he tells Rolling Stone. Monteiro says he's a supporter of the campaign as well as a donor ("some of that cash on hand is mine"), but he adds: "I get furious when people ask for free design work, and even more furious when designers do work for free."
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Old Nov 3, 2012, 08:10 PM   #17
citizenzen
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Sorry here
I'm a confused by this post.

Are you showing us some of your work?
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Old Nov 3, 2012, 08:24 PM   #18
DaPoonet
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
I'm a confused by this post.

Are you showing us some of your work?
lol yep
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Old Nov 3, 2012, 11:40 PM   #19
citizenzen
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lol yep
Okay.

We've got some work to do.



But don't worry.

Most of us have been there before.
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