← Back

Q&A - Training in Graphic Design

Are there any professional organizations that provide information about graphic design training?

Professional graphic design organizations are some of the best resources available to learn about options for graphic design training. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) is the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design. Its Tools and Resources section contains many links to authoritative advice on design principles, articles on the latest industry trends, current pay rates and publication series focused on ethical standards.

The Graphic Artists Guild, another professional organization for graphic designers, offers creative professional webinars developed to enhance practice and grow client lists. These offerings complement your graphic design online training well and help you learn about the latest trends in the industry.

Alumni associations are also an excellent resource to connect with professionals in the field and learn more about training opportunities. Schools such as the Rhode Island School of Design have active alumni programs for former students. If you pursue training at 1 of the many schools that offer graphic design training online, you will find similar opportunities to network. The Art Institutes offer a graphic design certificate online with ample avenues to connect with alumni.

How can I network with professionals who have training in graphic design?

The AIGA has 66 chapters across the country with over 22,000 members. Affiliated chapters organize events and opportunities to get involved, connect with peers, learn from mentors and earn recognition for your work. Their website has an extensive calendar of events such as speakers, design shows and meetings.

To supplement a graphic design training program, professional Meet Up groups are available in many areas and often host industry focused speakers and other networking events. The professional networking site LinkedIn is also a great resource for connecting with peers through industry specific groups and to learn about and connect with potential employers. The AIGA has a LinkedIn group, along with many subgroups for regional chapters across the country.

Another way to network is on 1 of the many online portfolio submission sites. These sites act as a platform for you to gain exposure for your work and see work created by your peers. One of the most well known is Behance. This site is especially useful for students pursuing graphic design training online. Behance seeks to remove the barriers between your talent and opportunity by offering advanced tools to build an online portfolio. Another portfolio site is Coroflot.

What supplies or tools do I need for my training in graphic design?

There are a few tools that are essential for graphic design training. First and foremost, a relatively new and powerful computer is important for practicing your skills and creating work. It is also very important have the latest graphics software. Adobe Creative Suite is the industry standard used by most professionals. Discounted pricing is available for full-time students of a graphic design training program, or you can usually access this software in a computer lab at your school.

Other helpful supplies include graphic design books and analog design tools such as a sketchpad. Most work in the field today is completed digitally on a computer, but many professionals still use paper and pencils to brainstorm ideas and draft concepts.

If you are engaged in graphic design training online, you will need access to a personal computer loaded with the latest software to complete assignments for your graphic design online courses. In addition to the practical tools and software listed above, access to other creative professionals is an especially important element of your online training. A supportive group of peers you can trust, with different skillsets from your own, is important for the growth of your career in graphic design.

Social networking is a crucial tool for both traditional and online students to meet others and get work seen. You should definitely create a website to highlight your work and pair it with a Tumblr blog to help to get your work shared across a wider audience. The new site Pinterest also offers a unique opportunity to show your work to a worldwide audience.

Can you recommend any books to read during my training in graphic design?

There are many great books available to help you supplement your graphic design online training and prepare you to be a successful professional.

The trusted resource for graphic designers, How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul, by Adrian Shaughnessy, offers practical advice and guidance to help you embark on your career. It includes strategies for setting up, running and promoting a studio, finding work and collaborating with clients.

The constantly updated publication Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines is a must for the bookshelf of any budding graphic designer. It is produced by the Graphic Artists Guild and acts as the industry bible for design and illustration professionals.

For students with aspirations of starting their own design practice, the popular book Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business is a great teacher. Authors Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho offer expert advice on everything from creating a standout portfolio to navigating the legal issues of starting a business.

For graphic design students interested in pursuing a career in a marketing or advertising agency, Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team is a great resource. Author Alina Wheeler offers a universal 5-phase process for creating and implementing effective brand identity now utilized in many agencies across the country.