I like drawing, I like art. I want to be a graphic designer. But I worry that the job won’t pay me.
Don’t we hear this a lot; from the students and the parents both? So, does being a graphic designer actually pay you well? If you ask me, an Indonesian with graphic design background trying to make a living in Surabaya, the answer is a straight NO. But would I still recommend pursuing your dream and take that design course? YES.
Learn graphic design but don’t be just a graphic designer. You need to have other skills to complement your design skills in order to survive in the working world.
A lot of young graphic designers who graduate with great marks, great software skills, deep understanding of design principals, often forget that they will have to deal with clients, real businesses. Most of them lack communication skill, they don’t know a thing about business strategy, they have zero ability to negotiate, and some of them cannot even put a value on their work they don’t know what to charge. That’s why being just a graphic designer sucks. You don’t get paid well. Because why should you? You can only operate the software, you need a project manager to guide you, you find it hard to decide what to highlight in your design piece – it looks pretty but does not sell, and you need a copywriter to create catchy headlines and simple fine prints. If you are working alone as a freelancer, chances are, your client ends up being your project manager and even your copywriter. No wonder they treat you like a tool because that’s what you are, a tool.
It is a tough industry – that’s what everyone is saying about their field of job. But being a graphic designer really is no joke. The creative industry is evolving really fast, faster than ever! You need to be more than just a graphic designer to be able to compete. You need other sets of skills you may not get to learn in Design College. These skills will enable you to be more than just a design tool.
Well, if you hope to be more than just a graphic designer, you better note these:
- Communication skill is very important
Whatever your job, however good you are at it, without good communication skill, you will not go far. A graphic designer without the ability to communicate well will not be able to sell his skills and answer client’s brief. Even after you’ve poured your heart and soul into a project, if you cannot explain the concept and philosophy behind it or as simple as why you’ve chosen a certain color and not the other, your work will not have any value.
- Learn some marketing and become a strategic partner
You need to realize that graphic design is a key component in the marketing world overall to build brand awareness, and influence the customer's decision making process. Good looking design isn’t always good design. You need to be strategic. Strategic content will encourage prospects to become customers, and in content marketing, graphic design is a visual piece to guide your customers through your intended message.
- See from different perspectives
Think of your design as a tool to solve problems. Remember, your design is the tool while you and your clients are partners utilizing it. Graphic design is meant to solve problems. But before you go solving problems, you need to first address and understand the problems. That is why you need to see eye to eye with your client, see things from both business owner’s perspective and the consumers’. It is your job to create a bridge between the two.
- Never stop learning
I mean, duh. It is a very high paced industry with the digital marketing buzzing together and all. But we gotta keep learning as we go. Learn from anywhere, you can learn from your colleagues, your boss, your clients, even from the new guy that was just hired. Have coffee with them, pick their brains, and watch them roll. Just learn!
Be more than just graphic designers. Be problem solvers. Be strategic content creators.