Today’s graphic market is more competitive than ever. The need is great to be on top of the pack with adequate skills and information that is up to date. There are skills that are an absolute requirement for the serious graphic design artist, whether creating design for their own projects or for others. There are some basic tools and skills that are needed to have what it takes to produce graphic design that will meet this ever-changing world’s insatiable desire for more and more graphics.
Here is a list of the basic skills needed to meet those needs.
1. Adobe Photoshop: In the industry of graphic design, even the experts are constantly learning. They are on top of the latest and greatest and experimenting with what can be done. They learn through tutorials, seminars, and books. Adobe Photoshop, a pixel based photo manipulation product, is considered the foundation of graphic design. To become proficient, it is imperative that you spend a pre-determined amount of time each week to learn new techniques.
The selection tool offers some complex photo manipulation and design. This product will teach you the technique of layering and adjusting layers, masks and channels. These powerful tools allow for photo repairs such as correcting the colours, scratches, and blemishes.
2. Adobe Illustrator: This program provides graphic design through vector-based graphics. For logo graphics or any other design where crisp, clean artwork is essential, this is the tool of choice. This detail graphic illustrator gives the designer the ability to create poster work and any design print ready.
This program offers such skills as bezier curves, converting a bitmap to a vector image, multi-step gradients, and converting graphic images with text. Like any powerful program, it will take some time to gain proficiency. However, the time spent learning these skills is worth every minute. Invest the time and you will reap great benefits.
3. Quark Express or Adobe InDesign: These programs are what is referred to as page layout programs. No matter what your final product will become, your work area is the page. So, it needs a layout. No matter what type of graphics or text are needed, or if the product will be a book, sales copy, brochures or a magazine, this type of high-end layout program is essential.
To become proficient in these products your skill level must be at the level of creating Master Pages. When this level of skill is attained you will be able to create a 32-page catalogue. This is achieved by understanding how to control text with and around images. This would include setting up the document for the text to flow around and sometimes in the images.
This program will also assist you in setting up pre-press copy and offset printing. If these concepts are foreign to you, go to your local print shop and ask them for a tour. Be sure to test drive this program before you do so you can be ready with a list of questions as you see the process through the eyes of the local print shop. This can be very valuable.
4. Typography: This is one of the most important skills that will determine if you will be a good or an excellent graphic designer. This skill is about the type, the clarity and appropriateness of the type that must accompany the text. It is essential that you have a font management system on your computer system. You must know the difference between True Type, PostScript and OpenType fonts. Be sure to get a font reference guide and resource book. This will increase your typography skills to the expert level.
5. Idea Generation: The resource of ideas is essential for any professional. However, in the design world it is imperative. Graphic designers are paid the most and are in the most demand, not just because of their Flash ability, or PhotoShop skills, but also because of their ability to provide innovative ideas. As an Idea Generator you need a plan, and a method. You will need to be around other innovative thinkers. Be sure to read, read, read. This will assist your creative side and allow your creative side to open up and flow. Remember it is the idea generators that generate serious income. Have a plan and work your plan.
6. Network Building: This is perhaps an essential skill that is too often overlooked. The networking is especially essential when you are a designer who works alone in their studio. For some people networking is difficult. This network will be your support group for those times when you need input, encouragement and direction. Even if you feel that you will never need this, prepare the resource so you will be ready.
To build a strong network, attending networking events is a good idea. Attend events and seminars where you can meet and mingle with others of similar interests. Be sure to take contract information. In this day in age, people are more willing to share their email address. Be sure to keep that contact information available for you to seek out their professional assistance.
7. Business Skills: This is a very important skill. There are some basic office skills that are needed for graphic design artists. You do not have to be an accounting genius, however there is a need to know business skills like sales, marketing, tax strategies and database management. The real heart of any business; whether you are starting your own graphic design company or if you are contracting your work out to customers, you NEED business skills. Without the business skills your graphic design talent will not be utilized to the full potential possible.
These are some of the essential skills needed to be a graphic design artist, who is reaping the benefits of positive cash flow. Some of these skills are specific to the graphics and the design capabilities, and some are specific to the business side. We encourage you to take a good look at where you are on the skill level. Do a realistic assessment, and make a plan to gain the skills needed.
The real key is to do something after you read this. Statistically most people, yes, even those who have paid good money for valuable advice, do not take the next step. The next step is action. Simply put it is, Plan and then Act.