How to Become a Graphic Designer

Danielle MacNevin is a graphic designer at Peartree Designs in Massachusetts. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design from Mount Ida College, but she has been a graphic designer since she took her very first design class in high school. Danielle has worked on numerous graphic design projects in the areas of print, Web, photography and branding. Some of these projects include logo designs, advertisements, business cards, mailers, posters, catalogs and brochures, brand and identity websites, and even Facebook graphics. Danielle’s eye for art is not limited to her work in graphic design. In her free time, she is also a photographer.

What is a graphic designer?

A graphic designer is someone who tries to effectively and uniquely communicate ideas through various art forms like photography and typography.

Why did you decide to become a graphic designer?

I decided the moment I started using the Adobe programs that I wanted to be a designer. I was amazed at the tools at my fingertips and how I could create what I saw in my head or sketched in my sketchbook.

Are there common misconceptions about your profession?

I think there are many misconceptions about graphic designers. Not many people know exactly what it takes to develop a brand or to rush through 10 projects. A lot of time and precision goes into good design and it is unlikely to happen overnight.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical work day is actually chaotic. I come to work and begin working on recent projects as well as taking new jobs and anything that is high priority. I complete anything from logo design, to advertisements and brochures, and I have also started working on some CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for websites. My company is a bit relaxed, and we start our day around 10 and work until 6 or 7. I am currently contracting and try to work 40 hours a week.

What are your favorite aspects of your job?

My favorite aspects of my job are being able to work with numerous clients to help strengthen or determine their brand, and also working as a team to collaborate the best designs possible.

I also enjoy brainstorming with my team to get ideas flowing and then pursuing the design to the end. I love using my creative skills to create eye-catching designs that please our clients.

What are your least favorite aspects of your job?

My least favorite aspects are dealing with hasty clients who don’t understand the amount of time it takes to create something or make edits. It’s difficult but a very common thing when dealing with the public; you always work with someone who is in a rush or asks a lot of you and you need to be ready to have a great deal of patience. It’s also very tiring on your eyes to sit at the computer for long hours.

Is there anything you would have done differently while studying to become a graphic designer?

I would have liked more Web design courses; that has been the only area of graphic design that I wish I could offer more in.

What classes did you take in college that are the most relevant to your job?

My brand identity and typography classes serve me very well in my job. I have done a lot of typesetting and logo design, which has helped me the most.

What personality traits do you think would help someone to be successful as a graphic designer?

Personality traits that best help you in the design world are being a team player, being fun to be around, and having a passion for what you do. A likable personality gets you far in the design world, and life in general!

What personality traits do you think might hinder someone’s success as a graphic designer?

Being closed off, narrow-minded or self-centered will definitely hinder you as a graphic designer.

What advice, or words of caution, would you give to a student who is considering studying to become a graphic designer?

Take in as much as you can, and find the right school for you that offers a diverse and strong curriculum. Web is the ever-growing aspect of graphic design, and if you can code and design for Web, you will go very far. Print design is amazing but more difficult to find your niche, although it is still a very worthwhile side to go into. The more versatile you are as a designer, the better your chance to find work and succeed in a competitive job market.