May 14


What I Didn’t Learn in Graphic Design School

By Mark Rowan

May 14, 2012

communication skills, photoshop, portfolio, shortcuts

Graphic Desing DunceBlythe and Krissy are two of our talented graphic designers who are highly skilled professionals that help our customers every day. Just like most professions though, they did not begin their careers with all the knowledge they would ever need. Unfortunately there are a few things that graphic design school simply did not teach them that would have been very beneficial. A graphic designer might be highly talented in design, but they may also be missing some of the business of design needed in the real world. In this day and age, efficiency means just as much as talent and there is knowledge and skills that a designer should learn so they can be fully prepared to step into the world of business.

I asked Blythe and Krissy specifically what they didn’t learn in graphic design school that would have been helpful starting out.

Krissy says, “I wish I had a little more in-depth concentration into the programs as in how to use basic functions and tools. It would have been very helpful if they specified how to do things like retouching photos in Photoshop. Hands on learning and every day usage have allowed me to become proficient in these areas today.”

Blythe adds, “I wish graphic design school would have covered more about shortcuts. We were shown what to do and how to do various designs and effects. I learned how to make a zombie – that’s great. What they didn’t do was show us how to shorten the time it takes to design. For instance, in Photoshop you can put everything to actions. Instead doing the individual steps of scanning, fixing the color and printing you can do it all the desired steps and then create an action that will replicate the steps every time you need them.”

For Krissy another asset that she would like to have had was a professional portfolio. “If I had finished school with a portfolio that could be presented in the real world, it would have been very helpful. Whether it was for acceptance in a four year school or something that would be given to a potential employer, a professional portfolio goes a long way. I didn’t even have a real portfolio. I put together whatever I could find.”

Communication is an important skill for a designer to have as they deal with clients every day. Blythe had this to say, “Another thing I didn’t learn at graphic design school was communication skills. You are basically taught how to speak Greek, but you are not taught how to translate it to the customer. Many times a client may use an incompatible program to layout their art or they may design something that they believe looks good, but does not utilize good color or layout practices. In order to produce something that will communicate their business message effectively I have to interact with them appropriately. This is not necessarily easy if you don’t know how to communicate properly with customers.”

In order to better serve a customer, graphic designers must always be learning and improving. Technology changes constantly and businesses don’t have time to keep up with it all. As a professional that helps others accomplish their goals, constant self-improvement in your craft will insure that clients will continue to work with you.

If you have any questions about designing marketing materials for your business, don’t hesitate to call Blythe, Krissy, Christie or Rita in our color department at 757-545-7675.

Mark Rowan

About the author

In 1991, Hackworth opened its doors as a blue printer in Chesapeake, VA. Under the direction of Dorothy and Charlie Hackworth and their son Charles, the business is now a full-fledged graphics, printing and technology company serving the Mid-Atlantic.

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