Graphic design is a style of visual art that is computer generated. It can utilize shape, typography, and even texture to communicate some type of message. In some cases, the message might elicit more of a feeling or emotion, like with an abstract design or logo. In other cases, the message might be more literal like with marketing materials or on a website.
Graphic design can often encompass UX design (user experience), meaning graphic designers generally have to consider human experience and functionality. For example, if you’re designing a website, understanding how a user is going to navigate that website and making it as user-friendly as possible is essential. In other cases, if you’re creating a graphic like a logo or an abstract piece, you’re going to focus less on functionality and more on emotion.
The modern approach to graphic design explicitly states that graphic design is computer generated using software like Photoshop or Illustrator; however, graphic design has a much longer history than that.
Graphic design can be traced back to 38,000 BCE. How is this possible if computers didn’t exist during this time?
Well, it’s important to note that at its core, graphic design is just about human communication, or how humans communicate with one another using images. During these early days of human history, the primary form of communication was cave painting. These paintings are an example of using graphics to send messages and tell stories, making them a great early example of graphic design in action before the use of computers.
Bottom line: Graphic design all boils down to human communication through visuals, but for our purposes, we’ll mostly be focusing on digital graphic design since this is most common in our modern era.
Becoming a graphic designer takes time, money, and dedication to learning a new skill. That said, we’ll be answering some of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a professional graphic designer and how to build a portfolio website.
We’ll get into what a graphic designer actually does, how to build an online portfolio, what skills you need to become one, and how to come up with pricing for your first logo design project. By the end, you’ll have all the answers you need in order to make an informed decision about whether you want a career in graphic design.
With more of the workforce making the shift to digital careers, it isn’t any wonder that graphic design has become a popular industry to get involved with.
If you’re interested in starting a career in graphic design, but you’re not exactly sure where to start, this guide will give you all the tips, tricks, and info you need to ensure you’re as familiar with the field as possible.
Read on to learn about all things graphic design.
Before you set out on your journey to becoming a graphic designer, it’s important that you understand exactly what you’re in for. Graphic designer duties can vary greatly depending on factors like whether you are working as a freelancer or as a contractor with graphic design firms.
However, the common factor is that graphic designers create visual concepts and communicate ideas through their work. This can mean working on design projects like logos, websites, and brochures, and other marketing material, among many other potential job opportunities. A graphic designer combines text and images using an extensive knowledge of design trends and the ability to tell a story through visual elements.
In general, graphic designers will receive a brief which they will then translate into a visual using digital illustration and design software like Adobe Creative Suite. However, in reality, the design process is much more involved than it may seem at first glance. A graphic designer needs to be familiar with business identity design, photo editing software, and layout software, in addition to being able to strategically communicate ideas and emotions, all while marketing their business on their graphic design online portfolio website.
On top of all of the technical knowledge that goes into creating brand elements using a combination of art and technology, graphic designers are often responsible for a number of other duties, including:
meeting and communicating with their clients
understanding how to create original designs that will attract the client’s target audience
presenting thoroughly researched concepts for approval and critique
incorporating changes from customers or art directors
ensuring a lack of error in the designs before they are sent to print
In general, a graphic designer will have a few main areas of expertise or a specific type of customer or work that they take on. That means developing your identity as a designer and determining what kind of projects you are most interested in working on. Once you’ve decided that, it’s all about showcasing relevant work on your online portfolio so that potential clients can clearly understand what you specialize in.
Graphic design is something that every business has a need for when it comes to marketing their business, and that means that there are a ton of different industries that hire graphic designers. Here are some examples of the many different types of projects you may end up working on as a professional graphic designer.
product packaging design
book cover design
corporate branding identity
art and illustration
One of the best things about working as a graphic designer is that there are so many opportunities for you to work on such a wide variety of projects. In fact, the more specific you are about what type of project you take on you can get, the easier it will be to stand out and establish yourself as an expert in your niche field.
As we’ve already alluded to in this article, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to graphic design. There are many different types of graphic design that you can specialize in, and for the most part, each type will require different skills, or, at the very least, a different approach.
Read through the different types of graphic design and think about which would best suit your talents:
If you love all things branding, this might be the perfect graphic design type for you. All about coming up with a visual brand identity for a company, this type of graphic design can include everything from the color pairings used on the brand’s website, to the logo, to the typography used in packaging.
In fact, in most cases, brand identity will be consistent across all platforms, so with this type of graphic design, not only are you helping to design a website, packaging, and/or marketing materials, you’re also coming up with all the visual elements that will be used across all platforms.
This type of graphic design also requires you to think about emotion, audience, feelings, messages, and the personality that you want to help give the brand.
All about helping to sell a product or service through thoughtfully-designed visuals, if you have both a graphic design background and you enjoy marketing, this is a great option for you.
With this style of graphic design, you’ll be working on graphics for social media advertisements, print ads like in a magazine, landing pages, and even infographics if teaching customers about the product can help to sell it.
Probably one of the most traditional types of graphic design, this type of graphic design won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, especially with the rise of digital marketing and content marketing.
We briefly touched on this earlier, but basically, UI design focuses on design that is easy to use and interface with. For example, designing an app that a customer can easily navigate through, or an e-commerce shop that makes it easy to check out from. You’ll specifically be thinking about buttons, layout, menu, and what designs are easiest on the eyes.
Essentially, your job with this type of graphic design is all about balancing aesthetics with functionality.
Think book covers, newsletters, catalogs, and magazines. This style of graphic design is usually done in a print format, but with more print publications making the jump to digital mediums, there is more demand than ever for publication graphic designers who can make this jump.
Pretty much every product release has some type of packaging graphic design associated with it. Whether it be the box the product comes in, the label placed directly on the product, or the packing slip that comes with the product, packaging graphic design is alive and well in today’s modern society.
With this type of graphic design, not only do you have to think about how the package is going to look, but you should also consider things like how the package will make the customer feel and what message it brings across.
If you create graphic designs that move, you’re a motion graphic designer. Often referred to as a digital artist as well, most motion graphic designers specialize in animation and/ or special effects for television and/or film.
Motion graphic design can be quite complex and often requires a basic understanding of graphic design, along with additional motion graphic knowledge.
Motion graphic design can also include things like GIFS, moving banners, video tutorials, presentations, animated logos, and trailers.
This type of graphic design is all about creating original artwork. As alluded to earlier, there is graphic design that serves a function and there is graphic design that is more emotional. In most instances, graphic design will consider both emotion and functionality. However, with art graphic design, functionality is not a key concern, and instead, the focus is on feeling, emotion, and aesthetics.
In most cases, this art is created for the sake of art itself, but often, the work is sold for commercial use. Some examples can include t-shirt design, patterns for textiles, stock images, graphic novels/comic books, and album art.
If this is a type of graphic design you’re interested in, you’ll have to go freelance and it might take longer to establish your work, but in the long run, this type of graphic design can be very lucrative if you end up making a name for yourself.
This type of graphic design is all about helping to improve the environment through graphics. For example, the signage you see at an event space, or the wall murals at a restaurant. It can even include things like office branding, retail store interiors, and stadium branding.
The perfect combination of branding, function, and visual graphics, environmental graphic design might not be the first thing you think of when you think graphic design, but it’s a type that will always be necessary for improving people’s environments.
Everyone’s path to success as a graphic designer is going to be slightly different depending on what type of graphic design they choose to go into (types listed above). Having said that, most graphic designers have the same general skills in terms of visual skills and experience with technology.
If you want to become successful as a graphic designer, we highly recommend following these steps.
If you want to become a graphic designer, it’s well worth your time to start experimenting with some graphic design principles. In some cases, you might need certain software like Photoshop to fully experience what a graphic designer does. Often, you can try these softwares or pay a monthly subscription fee.
While we often recommend not spending a lot of money in the beginning stages of any creative pursuit, this is an instance where the money is necessary because it will help you make a decision about graphic design before you spend more money on something like schooling.
Play around here. Try making websites, see what you can accomplish with simple infographics, or even offer to design something for friends and family. The more experience you have in this initial stage, the more likely it is that you’ll continue to pursue this career path with confidence.
Whether it’s a course or a full program, you might find that schooling is a great step to help strengthen your skills. While schooling isn’t necessary to become successful as a graphic designer, you will likely be able to pick up some tips, tricks, and best practices that you might otherwise miss out on.
Having said that, with a skill like graphic design, practice will always be your best friend, so even outside your schooling, make sure you’re working on your own projects and continuing to sharpen your skills.
A course or program can also be especially helpful for those who want to learn more about UI UX design (i.e. user interface and user experience). In addition, these skills will be especially important for those who want to go into website design, product packaging, and/or app design.
Also, when choosing a school or course, look for a program that emphasizes hands-on practice. You can’t learn graphic design simply by listening or reading about it. You need to actually practice it. Don’t forget that.
As mentioned, you should always be working on your own projects. Whether it be mock logos, advertisements, book covers, or infographics, all of these pieces can work excellently for your portfolio.
If you’re concerned about putting together a portfolio before you have professional clients, don’t be. As with any creative pursuit, you should start building your portfolio ASAP.
While professional, paid work from clients will look great in a portfolio, everyone has to start somewhere and by practicing and creating your own mock projects, you’ll have more than enough to add to your portfolio during these initial stages.
If you want more guidance about putting together a portfolio for a graphic designer, be sure to check out the full guide.
As a graphic designer, you have a lot of options in terms of how you structure your career path.
For some, working freelance and taking on individual projects throughout the year works well. For others, working within a team and helping to build a brand sounds more exciting.
Either way, you will be putting yourself out there and being judged based on the quality of work in your portfolio.
You can also ways choose to do a mixture of this. You can start out by working freelance on the side, gaining paid experience for your portfolio, and as your experience goes up, you can start applying to jobs within a company that will allow you to work as a graphic designer full-time.
If you do decide to go the freelance route, whether as a short-term pursuit or a long-term one, there are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Always over-deliver with your clients. This will help you get recurring work, and it could help bring you in work through word-of-mouth.
Brand yourself. As a graphic designer, showing that you have branding skills can be very helpful for winning jobs. You can brand yourself through your website and social media.
Make your website extremely easy to navigate. If a client is interested in working with you, you want to make it easy to view your work and contact you. Format can help with getting this setup.
Network! As a freelancer, work always has the ability to come and go. You want to make sure you have a far-reaching network to help you keep your client work steady. Friends, family, current clients, past clients, peers, and dream clients, keep all of these in mind when networking.
Be open to all types of work in the beginning. When you’re first building up your career, don’t be too picky with the type of work you take on. Your main focus right now is just building up your portfolio, networking, and getting referrals/positive reviews. Take on what you can and you can build your client roster as your experience grows.
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a graphic designer, this guide for graphic designers should help you out.
Graphic design can encompass a variety of different styles of design, including website design, logo design, book design, product design, and even just art for the sake of art itself, which we’ll get into later. For now, though, it’s important to understand that despite all of these different types of graphic design, there are still some common traits shared amongst graphic designers.
If you want to become a graphic designer, it means you’ll need to have some general skills and capabilities. Here are some:
Graphic designers spend the majority of their day figuring out how to bring together different visual elements to create a cohesive design. Because of this, it isn’t surprising to learn that graphic designers need to be visual-minded.
Some of the visual elements that graphic designers need to consider include color, pattern, shape, symmetry, flow, repetition, balance, typography, and ratios.
Depending on what you’re designing, sometimes your graphics will be created just for viewing pleasure, and other times, it will need to have a functional design. Whatever the case, graphic designers always need to be considering the human on the other end of the work.
Unless you’re creating graphics simply for your own viewing pleasure, there is always another human on the other end, and being in touch with that can really help with making your work more approachable and successful.
Since we‘re talking about graphic design strictly in its digital format, you’ll likely want to feel confident using a computer. Whether it’s troubleshooting tech problems or feeling comfortable staying up to date with technology, if you don’t have much experience with computer technology, this might hinder you as an aspiring graphic designer.
Before you start putting a ton of your time and energy into pursuing graphic design, it’s a good idea to get a better understanding of what the process of becoming a graphic designer will actually look like. As with any career path, successful graphic designers know that it’s not always an easy job. For example, if you’re an artist who usually makes art for yourself, working in a client facing role might prove difficult at times. You may find it difficult to have to conform to someone else’s style and demands in order to create something that may not line up with your personal art aesthetic. If you’re the type of person who can’t take constructive criticism, graphic design is probably not going to be the right career for you.
Another challenge with becoming a graphic designer is that you will have to learn a lot about graphic design software and stay up to date with industry trends and new programs in order to stay competitive. This is where you might want to consider attending a graphic design program or engaging in continuing education even after you become established as a graphic designer so that you are always staying on top of advancements in the industry.
Since you will likely be dealing directly with clients as a graphic designer, you also have to be aware that some customers may end up being more difficult to satisfy. Sometimes you may come up against a client who doesn’t trust your authority of reasoning for making the design choices you do and will insist on having you follow their feedback, even if it doesn’t line up with what you believe will be best for the company. At this point, you will have to decide whether it’s better to attempt to educate them on why your choices will be better for them, or if you’re just going to take their feedback in spite of believing that it won’t ultimately benefit them in the long run.
Graphic design is about bringing a client’s vision to life, and that means you need to really be on the same page as them in terms of understanding what exactly they are asking for. If you’re not entirely clear what they want, make sure to ask. It’s way better to ask for more information upfront than to pretend you know what they mean and end up creating extra work for yourself down the line.
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Now that you understand some of the hard parts of becoming a graphic designer, what skills do you need to be a graphic designer? We’ll take a look at some of the hard and soft skills that are a necessity for any aspiring graphic designer.
Many graphic design jobs require an applicant to have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. However, you don’t have to go into debt in order to learn about graphic design in school. For example, you could look into certification programs or even free courses online, especially if you just want to dip your toes in before committing to a more focused program of study. While in school, you may be able to get an internship to gain experience with an established design firm, which will often hire graphic design students for work-study programs.
It may look good to a potential employer if you have a bachelor’s degree, but keep in mind that it all comes down to your ability to pitch yourself, and that means having a standout online portfolio. You need to showcase not only your technical skills but also your ability to work with a client to deliver a high quality product that they are completely satisfied with.
Here are some of the other skills you will need in order to be successful as a graphic designer.
artistic ability, drawing skills, and creativity
communication with clients
a thorough understanding of theory and fundamentals of graphic design and psychology of colors
the ability to adjust your artistic style to create what your customer wants
incorporate customer feedback
communicate a concept through visual design
Since you know what abilities are needed to become a graphic designer, it’s time to look at how viable a career in graphic design might be.
The last thing you want to do is invest time, money, and energy into pursuing a career that may not pay off in the long run. You’re probably wondering, is graphic design a good career for me, or is the industry in trouble?
Some people may think that design is dying as a career due to the amount of competition in the market. There are always people willing to do a design project for a lower rate, and even websites that automatically create generic business logos for the price of a coffee.
However, the reality is that graphics are an integral part of most businesses, and are used in marketing and public relations across the board. Graphic designers help companies communicate their messages to potential buyers and convert them into paying customers.
Unfortunately, many businesses do end up opting for the cheapest option they can find, because they may not understand the value that a well designed logo can provide to their business. Graphic design is about so much more than just artistic ability, and businesses end up losing when they think they can achieve the same professional results at a much lower cost.
With that in mind, make sure that you always charge what you are worth and have confidence in the value that you are providing to your clients, and you will see that graphic design is still very much a thriving business.
The short answer: yes!
In the past decade, the massive growth of digital platforms and content marketing strategies has made graphic design one of the most effective conveyances of ideas. Visual interpretations tend to capture viewers’ attention much better than other types of content, making graphic designers highly sought-after when it comes to any sort of career in marketing or advertising.
In the US, the graphic design industry currently has a market size of $12 billion. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 281,500 graphic designers are currently employed in the US alone — with many people working in the fields of advertising, specialized design services, publishing, and public relations. Graphic designers who choose jobs in digital fields (such as computer systems design and digital media) are also likely to see a 20% growth rate in these areas of expertise.
When it comes to the marketing of products, graphic designers are key contributors to companies’ successful branding campaigns. This means they will always be important investments for businesses, as well as integral players in driving the economy forward.As opposed to using DIY design software or free online tools, established brands will almost always prefer to hire actual graphic designers to help them with their branding campaigns. Working with a graphic designer is a much better way for companies to produce original design work, achieve their true brand vision and establish a consistent brand identity. Experienced graphic designers will also have the skills to ensure that all materials are interactive and viewable on all devices and platforms.
Of course, as graphic design is a popular career choice, aspiring graphic designers are likely to face steep competition. As such, those who stay on top of the latest trends, technologies, and specialized techniques and who are willing to continue updating their skill set are most likely to experience continued success in the field.
Due to the creative nature of graphic design, a designer’s daily schedule and the number of hours worked can vary.
To give you a better sense of how many hours a graphic designer usually works, let’s take a look at the three different environments you’re most likely to find them in:
Graphic designers who work in an in-house setting are employed with an established organization. These types of roles may involve working on a company’s internal marketing initiatives, producing work for clients, or both.
In-house roles typically follow a traditional 9 to 5 schedule, meaning they’re likely to provide graphic designers with at least 40 hours of work per week. In-house roles may also require designers to work extra hours, depending on the needs of their company. Your schedule while working for an established brand is also more likely to include meetings, company events, and additional duties that may lie outside of your creative contributions.
Like in-house graphic designers, those who work in an agency environment are more likely to follow a similar 9 to 5, 40-hour weekly timetable. However, you’re more likely to see your workflow broken down a bit differently in an agency. Agency-based projects involve working with outside clients to produce creative work — meaning they’ll typically be shorter-term in nature.
Agency roles are usually very fast-paced, with projects that often require long hours and tight deadlines. As such, there’s a higher chance you might be logging extra hours or working some late nights to finish a project.
On the flip side, working in an agency also means spending more time working with other designers and creative directors — making it almost guaranteed that your hours will mostly be spent on design work, as opposed to other duties.
Figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 21% of graphic designers in the US are freelance (or self-employed) workers. Instead of working under the guidance of another company, freelance designers contract their services to clients and are responsible for managing every aspect of their operations — including who they choose to work with and the total number of hours they work each week.
While getting to manage your own schedule may offer more creative freedom, most freelance designers aim to work a similar number of weekly hours as in-house or agency professionals. Also, because there are no set rules on how many hours a freelance designer can choose to work, it isn’t uncommon to see them working well over 40 hours per week to meet deadlines or financial objectives.
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When it comes to designing a logo, the rate you charge will depend on a number of factors. If you’re working as a freelancer as opposed to on salary for a design firm, you will be in charge of setting your salary.
For people who are unfamiliar with graphic design, it can be difficult to understand why some logos cost $5 and some cost more than $10,000. That’s because the quality and scope of the project will vary greatly between those two price points.
When you’re just starting out and don’t have much professional experience under your belt, it can be tempting to try to compete with generic logo generators by pricing your services on the lower end. Think twice before you do this because often you end up making yourself look like the budget option rather than someone who creates work that is worth paying for. Underpricing your services can also end up attracting low paying clients who have a ton of demands and end up causing more trouble than they’re worth.
A $200 logo and a $2000 logo could look similar, but the difference becomes clear when you look at how the design process looks for low end, middle end, and high end logo design. Here are some of the factors that will determine how you price your logo design services.
Professional designers with a more developed work history will always charge more than someone who is new to the field. In addition to the added experience they bring to the table, there will likely be less back and forth between the customer and the designer, which is a luxury worth paying for. Business owners want to focus on what they do best while leaving the branding to the professionals, and that requires trust between customer and designer.
The scope of a logo design project can vary from including just a simple logo to a full scale brand overhaul. The specific design elements that the customer will receive should all be clearly outlined in your graphic design contract before you even start sketching out your initial ideas.
A branding package requires research, whereas a simple logo designed based on the customer’s vision is more about streamlining the final product than actually engaging in an intentional designing process. Neither option is necessarily better or worse, but the amount you charge will be dependent on the scale of the project.
Logos are much more than a simple image with a business name incorporated. While a lower cost logo will revolve solely around client direction in terms of choosing fonts, colors, and imagery, a mid or high value logo design will include logo variations, brand strategy, brand style guide, and potentially additional brand graphics. They will also involve extensive research around your customer and their competition, the creation of multiple design concepts, and designing brand guidelines to be applied across all company branding.
If you’re used to charging based on how long a project takes you, it may be an adjustment to transition to value based pricing. You should always set your rate based on the value you provide to the company, and that means charging more for a huge corporation than you would for a small business or nonprofit.
Another thing to consider when pricing your logo design services is image licensing. Your price should change based on whether your designs will be used locally, nationally, or internationally, as well as whether they will be used in print, online, on products, or on television.
For those of you wondering if graphic design is easy to get into — we can tell you that with a great online portfolio, your chances of leveraging your online platform are much higher.
When it comes to impressing potential clients or employers, having a strong portfolio of your work is vital when it comes to proving your skills as a graphic designer. Your portfolio will serve as a platform for your talents and creative abilities, as well as a place to showcase examples of your work.
If you’re a graphic designer, your portfolio will allow future clients or employers to take a deeper look into your strengths, abilities, and specializations. While your resume will list your past accomplishments and qualifications, your portfolio will provide evidence of your design experience, with links to your past work.
Having a graphic design portfolio will also help you establish a better online presence, which will make you more accessible to clients. It can also serve as one of your strongest networking tools, providing you with a launchpad to connect with potential clients or other industry professionals.
To ensure that your graphic portfolio stands out from the crowd, it will need to successfully grab your visitors’ attention. Following the right formula will also ensure that your portfolio is clean, engaging, and easy for your visitors to digest.
What should be included in your graphic design portfolio to ensure it highlights your talent and catches the eye of potential hires?
A convincing graphic design portfolio should include a logo, a tagline, updated contact information, a call to action (CTA), and examples of your best work.
Additional key elements will also help you score extra points and tell your visitors more about your personality. This can include testimonials from your clients, an about page (with a photo and small biography about your personal and professional experience), a blog, or details about a current project you’re working on. While these details shouldn’t stray away from informing visitors about your professional goals, they should also provide greater insight into your reputation or creative capabilities.
The type of work you choose to put in your portfolio is the type of work you’re most likely to get hired for, which means it will go a long way towards helping you inch towards projects you’re interested in.
Featuring a defined niche on your portfolio will also heighten your chances of landing the right gigs. Clients looking for a designer specializing in a particular niche will be more likely to choose you for their next project — especially if you’re able to showcase past work with a similar tone or style.
How many pieces should be included in your graphic design portfolio? It’s recommended that you feature an average of 10 high-quality pieces, in order of which ones best showcase your skills.
You’ll want to make sure the pieces featured will catch the eye of a future client — so in this case, quality is better than quantity.
When it comes to curating your graphic design portfolio page, simplicity is key.
Your portfolio should be easy for visitors to navigate and your theme should be clean and minimal, allowing your work to serve as the main focal point. It can only take a few seconds to lose your visitors’ attention, which is why you’ll want them to have a clean and engaging visual experience when they explore your work.
Using an online portfolio template from Format will provide you and your future connections with a sleek, beautiful interface to connect on. Tools such as slideshows, grid layouts, and intuitive design options are a great way to ensure that your platform is interactive, easy to scroll through and that your best work will serve as the focal point of your profile.
Now that you have a thorough understanding of what it takes to become a graphic designer, it’s time to start practicing your skills and building up your online portfolio website!
We love taking a look at the work of current professionals in the graphic design field, not only because it gives us a better idea of what goes into building a graphic design career, but also because it shows how many paths there are to success.
If you’re interested in a career in graphic design, look through some of these best graphic design examples to get more familiar with the field:
Victoria Soriano’s website will immediately draw you in with its bold colors and vibrant graphics. We love this not only because it’s visually appealing, but also because it shows off Victoria’s aesthetic the moment we click open her site.
Her website is simple, there’s not much to be distracted by, and if you’re looking for examples of her work, you’ll find it quickly and easily. All good things when designing a website as a graphic deisgner.
If you want to create a portfolio that is similar to Victoria’s, check out the Sierra theme from Format.
Graphic designers often have to consider things like branding and logo design. Shawn Pierce’s website is an example of this at play. His website is thoughtfully designed, carefully organized by project, and all done with his branded colors and typography.
If you want to display your work clearly but do it in a manner that feels in line with your style and aesthetics, this is an example of how to approach this goal.
If you want to create a portfolio that is similar to Shawn’s, check out the Reel theme from Format.
Claire Shadomy’s website tells you exactly what she does clearly and explicitly the moment you click on her website. With bold and colorful typography, not only does she do this with typography, but she also incorporates her playful aesthetic into the design.
Plus, to see her professional work in action, all you have to do is simply scroll down her website and you’ve hit the jackpot. We always appreciate an easy-to-navigate website from a designer.
If you want to create a portfolio that is similar to Claire’s, check out the Iris theme from Format.
If all of this sounds good so far and you think graphic design is a field you would like to get involved with, take a look through these graphic design examples for more insight.
If you choose to work within a company, you’ll obviously have less control over your pricing, and will more likely be working on a salary basis.
As mentioned, though, most graphic designers work freelance in the beginning just to help build that portfolio, meaning almost all graphic designers will need to consider their pricing at some point in their career.
For most, by project will be the most popular option.
You certainly can do hourly pricing, but most clients won’t be as familiar with how long projects should take, so simply giving them one fixed price might help you with securing jobs.
How should you determine your project rate?
Your estimate of how long the project will take
In the beginning, you might have a hard time judging how long a project will take, and you might not have the experience to charge high rates. In these early stages, we recommend going with a lower rate simply so you can build your portfolio and over-deliver to clients.
If you start with a high rate and the quality of your work doesn’t match, this won’t be a great start to your career, and it could even earn you some bad reviews or negative word-of-mouth, which is something that all freelancers want to avoid as much as possible.
Keep in mind, you can even work for free on a few projects, perhaps for friends or family if you’re really committed to getting that portfolio set.
How much UX/UI do you need to do? If you’re designing a poster for a small business versus a whole interactive website for a client, you’ll likely find that having to consider user functionality will increase the amount of time you take on the project.
How much research do I need to do? In some instances, you might need to spend time learning about the company before you even start designing. You may want to consider working this into the price.
Will I provide any redesigns? If so, how much? You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you’ve designed an entire website only to find that the client wants to completely change the layout.
How much creative control do I have? What is being provided to me? In some cases, clients will have an idea of what they want from you. In other cases, they might hand the reins off to you. Having full creative control can be fun, but it can also be time-consuming.
What am I responsible for? In some cases, you might need to be clear with your client about deliverables. This is especially important if you’re working on branding or you’re designing a full website. Ask questions like how many pages is the website, and what branding elements do you require? Being clear can help you avoid time-consuming miscommunications.
As much as we’ve focused on keeping your prices low in the beginning, we want to end our conversation about pricing by encouraging you to raise your prices as your experience grows.
Graphic design is an in-demand field, and your skills should be paid for appropriately. As much as those low prices can help you in the beginning, you should only keep those low prices for your first couple of months in the field.
After your first year, you should be more than comfortable raising your prices, and your clients should have no problem paying them. The only issue you might run into is raising prices on clients that you’ve worked with for long periods of time. In this case, be sure to explain why you’re raising your pieces, and for most, if you’ve provided quality work in the past, they won’t have a problem paying you what you deserve.
We hope you’re feeling more confident about starting your graphic design career. Just remember, it’s never too early to start building your portfolio. Whether you’re working for the experience, getting paid, or simply working on your own projects, there are no rules to what you can add to your portfolio. Just be sure that you’re including your best work possible.
Are you ready to build your portfolio, but you’re not sure where to get started? Format provides professionally designed templates for creatives like yourself, giving you the chance to have your graphic design portfolio up and running in no time.
Sound good? Get started today.
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