Graphic design refers to the creation of images to communicate ideas and solve problems. It is used in ad campaigns, branding, photography and infographics. Elements such as colors, lines and textures are combined to produce a cohesive body of visual art. This visual art can then come in the form of posters, flyers, billboards and even animation,
Your main role is to tell stories through images and words. You can use this skill set to create anything from illustrations to logos. You are also an essential part of any company’s marketing team because you build branded images to connect with customers. This is known as communication design. You can also work in the clothing industry, where you can create cool designs that can be printed on clothes and sold.
Since the growth of the internet and social media, companies have sought to use more attractive ways to communicate with people. This need has given graphic designers a significant boost in the employment market. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that job openings for graphic designers will grow by 4% from 2016 to 2026. This number translates to about 11,000 more jobs.
If you have ever thought about using visual means to pass a message to people, graphic designing may be for you. This article explains how to start your graphic design journey if you live in Maryland.
The average amount graphic designers earn in the United States is $54,680. This amount is lower than what you can earn in Maryland, which is $58,610. However, this amount can be more in some cities in Maryland. In Bethesda, the average salary is $65,876 per year. In Baltimore, it is $62,617, and in Columbia, it is $61,285.
Becoming a graphic designer does not require you to have any specific level of education except if you choose to go to a university, in which case you will need to finish high school. All you need is the drive and the right resources. Luckily there are a ton of resources online to do this.
The first thing to do is find the right tools to start. These tools are apps and equipment. You have to get a computer or laptop first because it is a vital need if you want to start graphic design. Also have a phone, notepad and maybe a camera. Cameras are good for inspiration. However, beginning with a laptop and a phone is a must. Also, you should have apps for graphic design such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Canva, Inkscape, GIMP and Sketchbook. These are just the tip of the iceberg as there are countless other apps that you will need as you gain more experience and become more professional.
The next thing to do is learn how to use these creative tools. Do not get frustrated when you do not understand at first. There are numerous resources you can search on the internet, such as YouTube, Reddit, and other online forums. Some of these apps also have educational resources in them. So, utilize them very well.
When you start getting the hang of this, start building a portfolio. Do not be scared to make mistakes; it is part of the learning curve. Try and do many designs even if you do not have any paid work. As time goes on, add your better-looking works to your portfolio. You can use tools such as Behance, Pixpa, Carbonmade, PortfolioBox and Krop to create a good portfolio. A good portfolio will get you noticed and showcase your talent. If you have social media such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, showcase your works on these sites too. A good thing about having a portfolio is how much they help you see your own growth, which gives you more confidence in your work.
It is possible to be a self-taught graphic designer but it will be beneficial to do online courses. Some of these are even free. Some places you can get these courses are Coursera, Udemy, Canva Design School and CreativeLive.
The basics that will be taught are the core principles of visual design, design outline, fundamentals of composition, adobe photoshop and illustration. You may include digital typography, image editing, UX and UI design, and print design as you get more advanced. Graphic design is a dynamic profession, so always keep up to date with trends to make sure you do not get left behind.
You can take a more traditional route and get your graphic design degree from a college. In Maryland, there are many schools where you can get a degree in Graphic Design. They include:
- Bowie State University
- Frostburg State University
- Loyola University Maryland
- Maryland Institute College of Art
- McDaniel College
- Morgan State University
- Salisbury University
- Stevenson University
- Towson University
- University of Maryland
- University of Maryland, Baltimore County
- University of Maryland Eastern Shore
- University of Maryland Global Campus
The University of Maryland Global Campus is located in Largo, Maryland. It is an online state university where you can get an online bachelor’s degree in Graphic Communications. To be accepted into this program, you must graduate high school, get your diploma and then apply to this school.
You will need to submit all your transcripts from previous schools and earned credits for your application. The tuition for out-of-state students is $499 per credit and $312 per credit for state residents. To complete this degree, you need 120 credits. Note that you can also opt for a hybrid program that combines both offline and online learning.
You can get a degree in graphic design from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. This degree requires 72 hours’ worth of credit in visual art coursework. University of Maryland’s degree in graphic designing focuses on animation, graphic designing, photography, cinematic arts, and print media. You can specialize in some of these areas.
You can either get a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA). BA allows you to have multiple majors and minors while BFA allows you to do an in-depth study in only one aspect of graphic design. To apply for either, click here.
The curriculum at this school trains you to have an understanding of spatial relationships, color, balance, image-making and many more. By your second year, you must have developed a portfolio and done a capstone project by your fourth year.
To apply to Towson University’s BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) program, you must already have been admitted to Towson University. You need a minimum GPA of 2.67 and must have done prerequisites in Arts. You then submit your portfolio to the department. Thus, the basis for acceptance into the program is your portfolio and GPA.
The Maryland Institute College of Art is a prestigious art college that offers a Graphics Design degree with an acceptance rate of 65%. The minimum GPA to be accepted into the school is 3.0. You can apply through the Common Application portal. The requirements are your SAT scores, transcripts from high school and other schools you attended, verification of financial support, your graphic design portfolio, an affidavit of support, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay.
Graphic designers have multiple career options, whether they wish to pursue freelancing or full-time employment. As a freelancer, the bulk of your work will come through referrals, personal marketing and freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer.com, FlexJobs, TrueLancer, Fiverr, FreeUp and PeoplePerHour.
If you work with a company, you will be an in-house employee and work in branding and marketing. You will be involved in campaigns for the company using your knowledge of graphic designing and the company’s brand image to build long-term ideas and strategies. If you work as an agency designer, you will be part of an ad or branding agency that makes specific short-term campaigns for companies. Some advertisement agencies where you can work in Maryland are:
- A Bright idea
- Q Marketing and Design
- The Pomerantz Agency
- Ann’s Social and Marketing
- Boost Labs
Also, because of the nature of the job, you may find yourself working remotely most of the time. Some other places you could work in Maryland include:
- Fingerprints for Success
- TOPS Software
- McKinley Marketing Partners
- Summit Group LLC
- The Center for Organizational Excellence
- Precise Software Solutions
- LINQ Services
- IQ Solutions
As a graphic designer, it would help to be part of a graphic design association. It will help you connect with several professionals and build a network of people you can trust. Also, considering how graphic designers operate, you could get referrals from fellow members, thus growing your business.
The American Institute of Graphic Arts Baltimore was created to bring graphic designers and graphic design enthusiasts together. It aims to set global standards and ethical practices and improve professional development. They host art exhibitions that give local Maryland graphic designers the chance to showcase their work.