With resources, tools and inspiration accessible at our fingertips, there has never been a more exciting time to be a visual creative. Universities across the board offer an exciting range of visual-lead courses across both the arts and design, spurring young minds to be expressive in their choice of mediums.
I come from a traditional art background, having undergone a Bachelor’s degree in Art at the University of Reading. Further on in my career, I refined my skill-set and transitioned into graphic design, but that’s not to say I had to start with a blank canvas, so to speak. In this blog, I will be detailing my top tips on how to transition from a traditional art background, into the field of graphic design.
Keep that pencil to paper!
Illustration is a fundamental foundation to many creative disciplines and seamlessly feeds into graphic design. Like myself, if you were one to be found with your head in a sketchbook growing up, these illustrative skills may be more transferable than you think. Even if your drawing skills are just applied to mock-ups, sketching concepts, demos and drafts out before finalising them digitally can be a fluid method of experimentation and exploring ideas.
Continue to be open to criticism and feedback
Similar to the group art critiques you may have grown up with, whether these were in school or university, developing the ability to take constructive criticism with your works will fare well in the realm of graphic design. The eyes laid upon your work will shift with the transition to graphic design, with new recipients including clients, creative directors, managers and more. Ultimately, constructive feedback will be mutually beneficial and will help ensure you as a designer will continue to move in the right direction.
Nothing is achieved in a comfort zone
Often with conventional artist development, you start with a ‘tracing’ phase, where you may imitate elements from different works before branching off and developing a unique, personal style. The key to this phase is trying new things, referencing different artists, trying new mediums and continuing to push creative boundaries. This applies when transitioning to graphic design too, see what different software have to offer, and ultimately see if you would like to become a specialist or generalist. Operating in a comfort zone is often limiting across different walks of life, and a creative career is no different.
Stay aware of the market and what’s going on currently
When pursuing more traditional art mediums, we may seek different sources of inspiration, ranging from the subject matter itself to those whose styles we admire.
These may be linked to more conventional displays of work, such as art galleries, museums and exhibitions, where we can engage with inspiring content in a manner emphasizing scale and detail. It is greatly beneficial to stay inquisitive and curious with the market in graphic design, taking inspiration from both online and physical publications along with seeing upcoming events in the sector.
Never stop learning
It’s often easy to fall into the ideology that you stop learning once you leave formal education, but this limiting philosophy is far from the truth. Just as you carefully studied the intricacies of an artist’s work with your artistic origins, this mindset should continuously be applied in a graphic design career. Continue to study graphic design trends to see how you can meld into (or disrupt) a contemporary landscape with your working style, and create eye-catching and adventurous works.
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