What Type of Education and Experience Do Graphic Artists Need?


Someone who has a knack for working with computers and has a lot of creativity or a good eye for design can find a satisfying career in the graphics arts, which is just as diverse as the personalities of graphic artists or graphic designers. A graphics arts career can include magazine page layout, newspaper page design, book design, advertising design, product design, commercial print design (business cards, letterheads, posters and brochures), large-scale design (billboards and vehicle designs), T-shirt design and even website design. Almost everything that people see while out every day has been designed by a graphic artist. It is a popular, yet competitive, career choice.

College Education

  • While there are self-taught professional graphic artists, your generally need a bachelor's degree or an associate degree in graphics design in order to get an entry-level position. A good graphic artist should have an understanding of basic layout design, typography, use of color and other design issues important to creating a pleasing visual look. A bachelor's degree will provide detailed knowledge for a person who desires to be a serious graphic artist after graduation.

Broad Knowledge

  • Because the graphics design profession is incredibly competitive, job seekers with a broad knowledge of how to use a computer for print design, website design and animation, have a better chance of getting the job. A graphic artist who knows a range of design programs, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, PowerPoint and Dreamweaver, can be a huge asset to any company's graphics or marketing department.

Stay Informed

  • A graphic artist must stay abreast with constantly changing and updated design software. As newer versions of each design software program come out, a graphic designer must invest in the new software and learn its newer, improved features. Staying current with the more popular programs is important in the world of graphics design and can be a deal maker or breaker when looking for a job.

Build a Portfolio

  • One thing that is vital to getting a job, or even being considered for a job, in the graphics arts is to put together a portfolio of your best, most creatively designed pieces. With the advancement of technology, more people are creating their own websites with online portfolios of works that they have designed. There are also portfolio brief cases that graphic designers can buy to have a physical representation of their best work that they can take with them to a job interview. It is important to have the work presented in a professional manner, often with pieces mounted on a clean, black board. The portfolio represents to the potential employer the skills you have and can bring to the job.


  • After graduating with a bachelor's degree in graphics design and getting an entry-level design position, you can expect to wait one to three years before advancing to a higher position. A wealth of knowledge and helpful experience can be obtained in your first three years with a company. Once you've gained experience, you can seek a higher paying position, such as art director, chief graphics designer or being head of your own graphics design firm.

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  • Photo Credit Leonor Crossley
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