I had a friend back in middle school, he was kinda crazy and an absolute rebel, but he had a big impact on my life. He was in high school, but we were friends, and one day while we were sitting around a computer playing Roller Coaster Tycoon, he stopped and said that he wanted to show me this new thing called HTML.
Watching him work, I was enthralled, ecstatic, confused, and curious all at the same time. In a word, I was hooked. After getting my hands on all sorts of HTML coding books from the library, I taught myself how to code a website. But, a basic website was not enough for me, I wanted it to look good too. I watched this guy do some cool graphics stuff with a program called Photoshop. Man, that program was amazing, and I had to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, due to the cost, I wasn’t able to, but of course that wasn’t going to stop me. I had MS Paint! Now before you laugh, let me just say that if you can master MS Paint then you will be a Jedi at Photoshop – unfortunately I never mastered the complexities of MS Paint, but I did learn to work with it despite its limited work flow and inability to edit. To compensate, I created a system using MS Paint, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Home Publishing to be able to do nearly anything I wanted to with graphics. Each program had different tools, so by transferring my design back and forth between the three, I was able to create some rendition of what I had in my head. Now, my exposure to great artwork at that time of my life was minimal, so to anyone else I’m sure my works of art were much more on the side of “modern” or as some said, “reminiscent of a 5 year old having a seizure while playing with photoshop”.
Regardless of the quality of my early designs, I enjoyed this thing called graphic design. Over a decade and a half later, here I am as an experienced graphic designer who has learned the beauty of the Adobe Creative Suite. The journey over the last decade has been interesting, not just for me, but for the industry.
The Situation for Graphic Designers
Fifteen years ago, graphic designers worked in print houses laying plates on the presses and taking a ratchet to the occasional bolt on the back side of the machine. If you were exceptional, as in the best of the best, you might be able to land a job as a designer on staff at a big marketing agency or at one of the big entertainment companies, but for the average graphic designer the job led away from such grandiose dreams to a reality that was little more than manual labor with ink and printing presses. But something happened that changed the trajectory of the industry. More and more people started getting their hands on Photoshop, and smaller and smaller companies realized that, in order to be competitive, they needed to hire someone who was experienced and specialized in designing their materials. Between the emergence of the internet and the ongoing impetus of capitalism, a need arose to put a face on a company other than the brick and mortar exterior of your building.
In today’s economy most companies are known by their website, not by their building. Whether it’s a billboard on the side of a road or a flyer that goes under the wiper of a car, businesses have learned that if they are going to get the attention of their audience – they have to design accordingly. This has created a new, growing need for graphic designers. It amazes me how many people are graduating college with graphic design degrees and immediately getting scooped up by any number of companies to work beside the owner or office manager to insure the company is represented correctly in print and the media. This has opened up an incredible opportunity in the industry and honestly, I only see it continuing to grow. I believe that in the next ten years you will see the graphic design industry double due to increased demand from business, and because of the enticing idea of going to college for art and design.
If you’re a business out there reading this, I encourage you to take note and start thinking about your competitive edge in the area of design – be careful that you don’t get passed over by customers because you have a bad website design or because your direct mail campaign looks like a template from 1999. Our world is changing fast and if you want to stay competitive you have to do two things: 1 – Find a graphic designer. Whether you hire one, or you secure a relationship with a freelancer or graphics company, you need to find one, and you need to start using him for everything. You will be amazed at how big of a role someone who isn’t “producing” or “selling” your product can play in producing and selling your product. I have seen good graphic designers turn companies around and increase the bottom line drastically, don’t miss out and don’t get left behind the curve. 2 – You need to update your website. If you haven’t updated your website in the last year then you are behind the curve and probably behind the competition. Think about hiring a graphic designer who can code, or bringing on a firm that can offer both graphic design and website services, to keep your website modern and up to date. The internet and web-design standards change quickly, much faster than paint peels or windows gets dirty. If you wouldn’t be ok with the front of your building looking old and shabby, then you need to make sure your website doesn’t look old and shabby.
This is our model at Inno Garage – we utilize an integrated team of cutting-edge graphic design professionals and marketing experts to evaluate your business and work directly with you to create a modern brand, online presence, and unique advertising strategy. Visit our website, or contact us today to find out how we can meet any graphic design needs that your business may have!
To the Graphic Designer:
My advice: work hard, learn everything you can, and start working on your portfolio every chance you get. Graphic design is art, and artists take time to mature and perfect their craft. Have you perfected your craft? Can you use all of the modern, industry standard tools? And if so, do you have a portfolio that exemplifies your work? I believe that over the next 10 years, the range of salaries for graphic designers will grow drastically. This is a simple game of supply and demand, so if you’re not the best at what you do, you will get stuck with the rest of the fresh college graduates getting a low paying graphic design job that will not use the full extent of your abilities. But if you work your butt off and you go for exceptional quality, you have the ability to make a very nice salary.
Also, one more piece of advice: learn to code. Facebook won’t even hire a graphic designer unless they code too, and this is now the mentality of a lot of companies. The internet is becoming more and more accessible to the everyday person; some schools even teach coding in elementary school. So if you want that competitive edge and you want that high paying graphic design job – learn to code. If you don’t, you will be that unemployed guy saying, “I don’t understand this newfangled technology. Back in my day we did it this way” faster than you think.