Do you need to study to be a Graphic Designer?

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Long before programs like Corel Draw, Photoshop and design suites appeared, it was essential to study to be a Graphic Designer. The final arts had to be meticulously finished and without the smallest error.

From the initial sketch to the reproduction in the printing press, the process was complicate and it was necessary to master some specific knowledge to guarantee the result.

Nowadays, with computers the creative process, from the sketch to its final application, does not require endless hours of work. Design programs make work much easier and faster, being able to spend more time on the creative side.

Due to this facility, informal or improvised designers have proliferated, those who buy a computer and take a course on how to design programs and then call themselves Graphic Designers.

Design surrounds you, it’s everywhere.

Nowadays, most people consider it not necessary to study, and to be a designer is enough to watch videos on youtube and read tutorials on blogs. But what if someone decided to become a doctor by reading medical books or watching videos on youtube? Surely, everyone will think it is nonsense. Instead, people react differently to the design, it is possible to perform without studying previously, and nobody seems to care too much.

The problem is that most people do not know what design is and what it implies in daily life. Because it is, so every day that it goes unnoticed, or we never stop to think that things we use every day (the coffee cup, the coffee machine itself, a printer, the wardrobe, our clothes, the keys, the food packaging, etc.) have gone through a Design process.

This lack of knowledge leads many institutions to teach program courses in which they train students to know how to design. Consequently, the profession itself is losing its value.

  • Today, a graphic designer can be anyone who has a computer.
  • Twenty years ago, a Graphic Designer was one who knew how to design.


The existence of these professionals with such a poor level of knowledge is what has caused the design work to lose its value over time. Mistrust on the part of clients has increased, and it is often difficult to properly collect for the work. Perhaps the most frustrating thing for many is that the customer who makes us pay for the broken dishes of the previous “Designer” is never missing.

The scope of Graphic Design is very wide; it is a race where visual communication predominates, the transmission of images together with certain ideas.

What do you have to study to be a Graphic Designer?

To be a Graphic Designer, it is not enough to be creative or have good taste. It is necessary to train to know how to communicate a need and that the target audience receives it in a clear and concise manner. Achieving this manner means that the result leads to achieving the objectives of the company or customer for which the design is being developed.

The design professional is refined with age, strengthened by his experience, but like all trades, the apprentice requires his teacher to pass on his knowledge. Therefore, to be a graphic designer requires instruction and education.

If you want to be a graphic designer and you do not have the resources to go to the university (or you have them), and you feel that this is your thing, follow these recommendations, so that your work is valuable, and you are not part of the bunch of bad designers who abound in the market.

Abilities and skills you need to improve (for life):

Disposition of teamwork;

I would say that it is one of the most important skills of a designer because when there are differences in criteria, these frictions affect performance. Teamwork will help you improve your social skills and, above all, it will allow you to learn faster than working alone. In your early years, look for a job at a print shop or agency.

Research and planning skills;

One of the biggest weaknesses of informal or self-taught designers is that they do not spend time on good research as well as planning work. Delivering quality design work involves more than just creativity; it has a lot to do with context as well.

In terms of planning, a workflow and a strategy must be established for each project. Knowing the steps from start to finish and being able to execute them during the course of the project will make us more efficient and reduce levels of anxiety and frustration as delivery dates approach. This will also contribute to reducing the anxiety and pressure exerted by the client, favoring the trust that he places in us.

Do you have to know how to draw to study graphic design?

Knowing how to draw well is not really completely necessary to be a designer. Yes, it helps a lot, knowing how to draw will help you develop ideas and concepts before reaching the computer.

Creating concepts with paper and pencil allows you to be more productive and efficient. By the time you use the computer, you already start working on concrete ideas. Having skills for drawing and illustration can be a great differentiator; it will give you a competitive advantage over other designers.

Communication skills

Communication is the cornerstone of design. After all, design is visual communication. You need to cross the visual barrier to be able to communicate well in writing and verbally. Many designers only focus on the visual part of the job and neglect these very important aspects. Being able to present and discuss your ideas, write strong and well-argued proposals will affect and boost your performance as a designer.

Marketing skills

Marketing skills can vary from job to job. However, it is important to have firm knowledge and understand the advertising and marketing goals related to the project you are carrying out. Many designers learn in the worst way that the most important thing is not “how it looks” but the ability to generate sales.

Being freelance is essential to be emphatic. Relationship helps connect with or recommend us to them. It also helps to scale in companies, find better job opportunities, improve or minimize the requirements for a promotion.

The ability to empathize with clients ensures that you will make decisions with the right focus and intention. Customers will be happier knowing that they understood and that you are willing to listen and attend to them. As a designer, you will be able to deliver proposals with greater added value, which generates better relationships, better opportunities and a better reputation to be recommended again and again.

Technological and technical skills

I have left last on purpose since it tends to believe that it is the most important thing. However, the truth is that a Graphic Designer must be able to design with a pencil or a computer.

Knowing new technologies allow us to save a considerable amount of work hours, especially if we use the right tool. Knowing quite well how to use the tools well to carry out each activity are increasingly desirable and important skills.

In particular, I would like to emphasize that one should not put any Design suite on a pedestal. From experience, I know how difficult it is to adapt when our “favorite” is no longer updated (I have missed FreeHand). Always try to use the most appropriate and keep you updated with the latest news.

Ability to relate and Empathy

Technical skills are like owning a vehicle, you are not a mechanic, but if you know the basics, you can solve problems without affecting delivery times. Among these skills, it is good to know how to repair, change and / or improve our equipment. Obviously knowing how to use the work equipment well, among others. Not depending on a technician and solving problems quickly is a competitive advantage.

“There are no established steps to be a designer; it is a process that never ends. Absorb all the design around you and analyze it in detail. Read many books and visit many Design websites and blogs”.

Final recommendations

More powerful programs and equipment will always appear, surely more legions of informal “Designers” will arrive. These will come flooding the market with their dysfunctional designs and overloaded with Photoshop effects. We designers of the old school can only continue to train and adapt to new media.

“At first we thought that the computer was a calculator. Later we found out how to convert numbers into letters, and we thought it was a typewriter. Then we discovered the graphics and thought it was television. With the Internet we have understood that it is a fold-out pamphlet.”
– Douglas Adams

Throughout my 20 years as a designer, I have witnessed the degradation of the profession. Many times, I asked myself how is it possible to happen?  What to do to avoid it? It is impossible to avoid.

What we can do is to stay in constant training, in this way we increase our potential and our skills. Clients who pay well will know how to value your work and will call you to obtain better results than their competition.

Online Graphic Design Courses

Do you like graphic design? Do you want to learn online and at your own pace? For many online courses there are the best alternative, you choose when you start and for and when to continue. If you work or already have a profession but want to acquire a new skill, this may be your best option.

Udemy is a learning platform for digital self-taught, if you register with this link, you will receive a credit of $ 5 after buying your first course, which will make it easier for you to purchase the second.


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