Jobs in Graphic Design: From Hobby to Creative Career|Turn Your Graphic Design Hobby into a Career

Turn Your Graphic Design Hobby into a Career

The field of graphic design is full of professionals who started out as amateur artists and design enthusiasts. If you like to draw, paint, or design as a hobby, you might want to consider a career that takes advantage of your talents. The graphic design industry offers a level of flexibility and personal expression that is unparalleled in the professional world.

From Hobby to Career
How does someone interested in graphic design become a professional? Many aspiring designers choose to pursue formal career training in the field. As a student in design school, you have the opportunity to work with specific techniques and media, from computer graphics to magazine layout. Students often choose a particular specialization in order to gain in-depth experience with a specific set of tools and methods.

For example, Web-based graphic designers learn to work with visual design software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, as well as Web page development programs that employ HTML and Java. With these skills, graduates can find entry-level jobs with professional graphic design firms that work on a contract basis. Others choose to work as interns at large design companies, and some learn new skills through apprenticeships with professional designers.

Working Independently
Many young graphic designers, either students or amateur design enthusiasts, hope to start freelance design businesses. In fact, about a quarter of all graphic designers are self-employed. Independent design contractors often start out small and build up a stable of clients that they can use to advertise their services to larger clients. By building solid portfolios of graphic design experience, many illustrators and artists have managed to create productive design businesses.

Another tool that is important to many graphic designers is an extensive network of business contacts. One way to get to know others in the design field is through an art school or an internship following graduation. If you hope to work as an independent designer, it is essential to have a network of other designers and clients who can serve as references and referrals.

The Benefits of Being a Graphic Designer
According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts, entry-level graphic designers earned around $35,000 in 2007. Salaries rise with experience and increasing responsibility. Design directors, the managing editors of corporate design firms, earned a median salary of over $98,000 in 2007.

Many young artists are attracted to the field of graphic design for the simple reason that it allows them to function independently, with a great deal of control over their work. Whether you are a design student or simply an amateur artist, graphic design may be an excellent way for you to simultaneously practice your art and pursue a successful career.

About the Author
John Tuthill is a biologist at the University of Montana. His previous experience includes laboratory work at the University of Washington and Duke University, studying mechanisms of vision and biological imaging.

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