Being a graphic designer has changed dramatically since I graduated back in 2010. Back then, we were taught to focus on the technical skills, but in 2015, designers have to focus on more than making pretty pictures. They have to understand marketing, technology, networking and communication.
Being able to grow a network of people is going to play a major roll in your career a graphic designer. Most opportunities people within your network, so who you know is more important that what you do.
It may be hard at first, but connecting with people who can help you get work is easier than ever. Social media allows you to build relationships with people that can help you. Just remember to be able to return the favor and not just use them as a reason to get work.
Networking in person is even more difficult than online, which is why it’s essential to get comfortable with speaking in public. Taking meetings, pitching to clients and attending networking events will be difficult without the ability to speak to strangers and meet new people.
Marketing yourself will play as big of a roll as the quality of your work when it comes to how successful you will be. Many jobs go to the person that know how to sell themselves, not the best designer. Realizing this will save you a lot of stress in the long run.
Strong marketing skills is essential when it comes to being a designer. Not being able to market yourself is going to hold you back in your design. You don’t have to deceive people to market yourself, its about communicating how you solve problems and can help others.
If you’re a freelancer, not understanding marketing can set you back in your career. Building a relationship with someone that is skilled in marketing is a good option for those uncomfortable with marketing or just starting to learn how.
Verbal and writing skills play a big role in the ability to work effectively with clients and employers. The lack of these skills is what keeps many graphic designers in the roll as “pixel pushers”.
Graphic Design is not about your expressing yourself like fine arts. Graphic Design is about communication and showing the value of whatever brand you are working with. If you can’t communicate what the brand represents, you will find yourself struggling to grow as a designer and communicator, and be stuck as a pixel pusher, not matter how talented you may be.
Graphic Designers should understand more than the software you’re comfortable with. As designers, we tend to lean towards using the Mac platform. I prefer to use Macs myself, but learning both Mac and Windows platforms will be beneficial to your career. You might not have a choice on what tool you will use, so don’t limit the amount of tools that you can use. Technology is going to fail sooner or later, so learning how to repair your equipment can save you money and time in the long run.
Keep up to date with the products and apps that are commonly used by companies. Google, Apple, Microsoft used to by your clients and employers in their day to day business and lives, it should be a part of yours also. Working remote is becoming more of a common trend, so using communication services like Skype to be able to video conference with your clients and storage services like Drive or Dropbox to send files back and forth are things you should take a look at.
If you have helpful skills you think designers should know outside of creating, feel free to leave your best advice in the comments section.