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How to Build A Career In Graphic Design

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Nov 11, 22, updated Mar 27, 24

Contrary to popular belief, entering the world of graphic design is easier than you might think. Designers rely on their practical experience to guide them, regardless of their level of schooling. If you have the desire to always learn new things and challenge yourself, you may be a graphic artist at heart. Although it's a fascinating industry to enter, many aspiring designers can become bogged down in the early stages. This article will examine the profession of graphic design before outlining the ten stages necessary to become one.

graphic design career
In this article
  1. Learn Graphic Designing
  2. Find Clients
  3. How Much Do Graphic Designers Get Paid?
  4. Choose the Software
  5. Working in Teams

Part 1. Learn Graphic Designing

You must have a thorough understanding of graphic design principles before you can become a graphic designer. A well-made design takes time to create. It takes extensive planning as well as knowledge of how to apply design philosophy and principles. Lines, color, shape, space, texture, typography, scale, dominance and emphasis, and harmony are all factors that graphic designers must consider. Each of these factors has an effect on a design and influences how an audience feels. Here are a few methods to get started:

Take a graphic design course

A graphic design course teaches you the principles of design and aids in your skill development by having you work on projects. You'll meet peers and mentors through graphic design courses, and they'll be useful as you expand your network. Topics including color theory, typography, layout, and graphic design tools and software will likely be covered in the majority of graphic design courses.

take graphic design course

Some courses may also instruct you on the history of graphic design, user experience (UX), and website design principles, depending on their depth. There are several alternatives, ranging from academic courses with rigid structure to more flexible online courses. Find one that fits your learning style and timetable.

Practice your design skills

Remember, practice makes perfect. It's time to put your newfound knowledge of graphic design ideas and tools into practice. Working on your own design projects is the best approach to develop your abilities and become a master of graphic design software. You might start by making imitation advertisements and company logos for real or imagined businesses.

In order to discover and design for target consumers, you may also use a current company's designs as inspiration for a new design. Volunteering for regional nonprofits or businesses is another choice. Give these organizations your design expertise to obtain additional practice and practical experience.

Create a portfolio

Any graphic designer must have a strong portfolio. Projects you did for a course as well as personal or professional projects can be included in your portfolio. Pay attention to quality over quantity. Since your portfolio will serve as potential employers' or clients' initial impression of you, choose pieces that highlight your design expertise and passions.

Part 2. Find Clients

It's crucial to land your first customers as quickly as you can. This will help you launch your company and give you the confidence and drive you need. You might try looking for clients on freelance job websites or use your personal network. Find out if your friends, co-workers, or family members know of anyone looking for a graphic designer. Here are some great places we find valuable to find potential graphic design clients:

find graphic design clients online


Upwork, which has long been favored by the freelance community, gives its members a location to locate new clients to support small businesses. Upwork should undoubtedly be on your list if you're looking to connect with new clients because of its innovative matching system, which connects jobs to applicants with the highest-rated work and guarantees a wide range of chances and high pay.


Behance, an Adobe creation, is the top website for designers to display their original work. With social features like the ability to comment on and "like" items, as well as a jobs board, it gives businesses the chance to look for talent on a worldwide scale. The best part is that it functions as an online, visual CV and is totally free.


OnSite presents itself as a platform for top-notch, hand-picked independent contractors with no middleman and no commission. Users are connected with tasks appropriate to their talents and a marketplace of freelancing opportunities is provided. Only "high quality talent" with established client and agency experience is accepted, serving as a barrier between the designer and the client.


Elance is a community for creative freelancers looking for work and will soon join the Upwork family. With the help of its Enterprise feature, it may connect sizable teams of independent contractors for collaborative working in addition to matching a client with a designer.


Toptal is a US-based company that connects businesses in need of freelance skills with designers. The website lists a variety of globally known businesses with whom one can establish ongoing working ties, with the caveat that it will only accept "excellent freelancers."


On iFreelance, which bills itself as "the leading place for independent professionals looking for freelance work," you can network with small- and big-business owners and market your graphic design expertise.


A freelance marketplace called Project4Hire links hiring clients with experts and workers all across the world. Clients publish their project specifications, and freelancers respond with quotes or bids outlining how much they would charge to do the task or provide the service. At any time, clients can choose the freelancers they want to work with and start a project with them.


Online hiring is made possible by the website and mobile app Simply Hired. Although primarily geared at full-time employment, it also offers the chance to find companies in need of design assistance, giving you the opportunity to obtain that all-important first foot in the door.

Part 3. How Much Do Graphic Designers Get Paid?

You possess the motivation, determination, and perhaps even some technical know-how. But when it comes to graphic design, one key question often comes to mind: Will you be able to support yourself as a graphic designer?

Yes, you're interested in the average salary of graphic designers, but you also have a lot of other pressing inquiries that require a response. Before deciding to pursue this creative career, you should have a comprehensive understanding of the position if you want to make an informed decision.

What does a graphic designer get paid? What abilities are necessary for graphic designers to succeed? How does one become one, too? All of these questions have answers, in addition to others. Discover the information you need to decide if a career in graphic design is a good fit for you by continuing to read.

When analyzing graphic designer pay data, there are many different things to take into account. Earning potential might vary depending on a number of factors, including education, location, expertise, job situation, and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual wage for graphic designers was $53,380 in 2020.

You can see that these creative professionals make a good livelihood by comparing that to the $41,950 national average for all occupations. The prospective earnings of graphic designers might also be influenced by the industry they work in. The BLS reports that the median annual compensation for graphic designers working in the advertising, public relations, and allied services sector in 2020 was slightly higher ($55,800) than that of graphic designers employed in other common industries like printing and publishing.

The following countries are great for graphic designers:

The United Kingdom

In the UK, business is booming in the design sector. In actuality, the design and designer fashion sectors' gross value added (GVA) reached £2.52 billion, or $3.35 billion, in 2018. With many top-tier agencies based in London and Glasgow, the UK is one of the world's major design hubs.

The UK is one of the most alluring nations for American designers for a number of reasons. There are no linguistic obstacles, on the one hand. However, the cost of living in the UK is 12.21% lower than it is in the US. It implies that housing costs are lower there. However, one of the nations with the highest incomes for graphic design is the United Kingdom. The best paid cities are the bigger ones like London, where the average yearly wage is $72,500.


Despite having a relatively tiny population for such a vast country in terms of area, Canada does have a vibrant design culture. The national average compensation for graphic designers is $48,750 per year. As in other countries, the necessity to streamline brand assets across numerous media has increased demand for designers, especially those with expertise in multiple design disciplines.


According to an interesting fact, China had the highest percentage of smartphone users in the world in 2020. It surpasses Indonesia, the United States, and India with a penetration rate of 60.75 percent. China has a sizable and loyal mobile user base. Mobile design and development are thus one of the top objectives in the nation.

Particularly Shenzhen is a recognized design capital and one of the top cities for innovation and the creative industries. It has financing to support local startups and is recognized as a City of Design. Using the Creative Cities Network.

In Shenzhen, 6,000 design firms employ almost 100,000 workers. Graphic designers in China get an average salary of $1276 per year, according to Payscale. Chinese graphic design salaries are lower than those in the US.

The Red Dragon, on the other hand, has a lower cost of living than America—in fact, it is 34.1 percent less expensive. You would make a good living and have a big wage if you moved to the country.


Israel's entrepreneurial community is flourishing. In fact, among the top 30 worldwide startup ecosystems and runners-up, Tel Aviv comes in at number six. This makes it an appealing option for many design industry experts, especially when combined with the nation's high-tech mindset.

Part 4. Choose the Software

The best graphic design software for you might depend on your needs, but if you work with a variety of clients and require a wide range of features, you might want to stick with one of the most well-known programs. Based on our own assessments, we've selected the best graphic design software currently on the market. This list includes everything from general-purpose software packages to specialized solutions for specialized markets. We have created a list for you to check out when looking for graphic designer software.

Adobe Illustrator

There isn't much reason to seek further if you want the greatest graphic design program for vector drawing and editing. Adobe Illustrator. For a good reason—we think it still provides the most robust selection of tools and functionality for vector editing—it is still the industry standard software.

Illustrator lets you to design everything from graphics to logos with complete creative freedom while having a ton of tools and shortcuts to help speed up your workflow. It is compatible with PC, Mac, and even iPads. We were happy with several of the improvements Adobe made to maintain their throne, including the ability to customize the toolbar, Rotate View, and a Width Tool that makes it simple to add variations to vector lines.

Affinity Designer

Serif's Affinity Designer is a very capable substitute if you think Adobe's membership pricing structure is a touch too much. Affinity Designer is the best graphic design software you can buy for a one-time fee, and as it continues to add capabilities, it is almost on par with Illustrator in popularity. In fact, it provides various tools not found in Illustrator, such as unlimited redo’s and a zoom of more than one million percent.

If coworkers or clients use Adobe products, you don't have to worry about compatibility because Affinity Designer supports both Illustrator AI and Photoshop PSD files. Affinity Designer probably runs quicker than Adobe Illustrator as well.


Although Adobe Illustrator gained some of CorelDRAW's early popularity, it still has a devoted following, and the software's 2021 update brought about several significant improvements. A Mac version (opens in new tab), which was previously only available for Windows, became available in 2019, helping to increase the package's appeal by adding many of Illustrator's features at a somewhat lower cost. Since you have the option of making a one-time payment or a subscription, you also have additional financial flexibility.

In spite of this, importing and exporting AI and PDF files to CorelDRAW is trouble-free. However, you should select one over the other mostly because you like the interface and process better. We advise joining up for the free trials of both if you haven't used either before or have the opportunity to compare them.

Gravit Designer

The best free vector-specific graphic design program comes from the makers of Corel Draw and is called Gravit Designer. It can handle the majority of design tasks, from icon design and prototyping to vector drawing and animation, thanks to its clear and user-friendly interface. With the free version, you can access your work from anywhere using the Gravit Cloud and export files as PDF, SVG, or bitmaps.

You can download a copy of Gravit Designer or use it online. When you sign up, Gravit Designer Pro automatically starts as a free trial; after that, you automatically switch to the free edition, losing the pro capabilities unless you pay for a subscription.


Using a common vector toolkit, SVG-Edit enables you to edit and generate SVG files. No download is necessary because the software operates directly in your web browser. It isn't the most complete vector software, but that isn't really necessary. It will work just fine for vectors that are straightforward or even a little more intricate.


The best vector software includes VectorStyler, a very recent addition. It was initially exclusively accessible for Mac, but it is now also available for Windows. A large selection of scalable vector brushes and the addition of some capabilities that are absent from other Adobe Illustrator competitors, like a form builder, a blend tool, and a pattern tool, are some of its main selling points. It can open and import Illustrator files, and you can import AI brush collections, make vector brushes out of artwork, and dynamically link brush content to editable artwork. You can even generate vector brushes from scratch.

Adobe Photoshop

Most likely, you already know that Adobe Photoshop is the industry-standard program for manipulating images. The program has long been well-known, and just as Illustrator continues to be the greatest vector design software due to its frequent improvements, Photoshop continues to rule in picture manipulation.

In actuality, it is capable of far more than just image manipulation, including photo retouching, digital painting and drawing, 3D modeling, and user experience design. It is a fully functional program, and Adobe has been expanding its arsenal of AI capabilities under the Adobe Sensei brand so that you can quickly and easily remove backdrops, for example.

Part 5. Working in Teams

The effort of several specialists with expertise in disciplines like graphic design, animation, and coding is frequently required for today's designs. Whether you're working on a project with two individuals or twenty, improving your team design strategy will streamline your operations and produce better results. Although the skills and personality of your team members may affect how projects are designed, you can usually rely on the following procedures to increase the effectiveness of your work.

During the team design project, don't presume that everyone will play a particular position. Knowing everyone's strengths can help you assign work to them as you progress through the design phases rather than making them sit idle.

Your illustrator may have prior animation experience. Your illustrator may even have expertise with development in the workplace of today. Even though they lack the necessary expertise to create a website or app, they could be able to advance the project's initial phase with their rudimentary understanding. The team's workflow will be accelerated, and your job satisfaction as an illustrator will increase.

Some people may feel isolated as a result of team design. They might eventually begin to procrastinate on their work, arrive at meetings a little late, or forget to check their messages. Negative feedback would be used in a conventional project management strategy to hold team members accountable.

You might have to huddle up with some individuals as the project manager to criticize their mistakes. But really, that ought to be your final resort. Utilize positive reinforcement prior to using negative reinforcement to keep team members motivated and appreciated.

You might not always have the opportunity to assemble your team in one location as more businesses migrate staff and independent contractors to remote employment. The warmth of in-person collaboration will be missed by some. However, working remotely is growing common. Even once the coronavirus pandemic is over, almost 70% of business owners anticipate letting at least some of their staff work remotely.

On any design job, effective communication is essential. However, if you can't solve the fundamental issues with remote working, no amount of communication will be of any use. Some of us are entering a completely new world. It's still beneficial to learn more about how you may succeed in a remote work setting with a team of graphic designers in particular, even if you've been working remotely for some time.

Leading a team at work involves more than just ensuring that everyone provides for your needs. The best managers pay close attention to the long-term requirements of those under their control. Give your team members the resources and opportunities they require to achieve their own professional goals if you want to get the most out of them. Assist them in finding a path that has upward momentum.

Understanding the individuals you deal with and allocating tasks based on that understanding are both important aspects of managing your graphic design team effectively. Try to assign assignments as much as you can based on who would be the best fit for the job. While some tasks must be completed regardless of whether they are fun or not, doing too much tedious work makes people lose interest in their employment.

A crucial component of creative activity is engaging others in their work. In general, employees who are more invested in their work will perform better over time.

The Bottom Line

The world of graphic design depends on relationships with other people to advance. Therefore, being really nice and engaged will undoubtedly advance your career. Simply put, communication and relationship-building are essential to our line of work, so you can't avoid them. One last bit of advice is to keep going. Continue phoning, sending emails, or doing whatever else you do regularly. Reject jealousy and don't take rejection personally. A rejection today can lead to a job tomorrow or a future new client.

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown Mar 27, 24
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