Introduction to becoming a graphic designer
Graphic design is essentially visually communicating a specific message (idea or concept) to a group of people.
Although people have always expressed ideas in graphic form to bring order and clarity to information, the invention of the printing press in the 15th century meant that such messages could be reproduced hundreds of times over and distributed to a wider audience.
The profession of graphic design has evolved greatly as a result of faster presses, automated typesetting and lithography and of course more recently, computers and digital technology. New media now expands the demand for design across an increasingly diverse communication field.
In terms of current market trends, personally speaking, the split between demand for graphic and web work changes from week to week and month to month - but generally I'd say that there's a split of 60/40 in favour of web work. This may be due to the fact that there's more repeat business with web work - the great thing about web work is that you can continue to work on web sites long after they've gone live.
There is great debate as to whether graphic designers can move across to web design, working with a developer I now have a sound enough understanding of what can and can't be achieved technically which I need to bear in mind when designing a site for a client. So long as you find the right person you can have the best of both worlds, securing work to design websites where I handle the client but sub-contract the back end work. You do need to be aware that responsibility lies with you if you use a subcontractor however.
Many graphic designers will have trained in print design, as I did - it's at the core of my business. I still get a real kick out of getting print delivered. I love how it feels, how it smells; did I choose the right paper or board; did that colour turn out as well as I'd hoped; what does that new typeface really look like? Of course you go through proofing stages - sometimes several - but you never really know until you get the job delivered.
I started working online in the mid-nineties, mainly due to the fact that I needed a site for my own company. Lots of graphic artists rushed into working online and many of them probably made an awful lot of money but I decided to wait and designed my own site first. Whether you have your foot in both camps, or even if you are solely based in design for print - an online portfolio is a must.
Nick Welsh - bespoke design for print and the internet Mono Industries
More on graphic designing as a freelancer.