When you look at any field—creative or otherwise—you’re sure to find that many of the most influential, accomplished figures had no formal education. They found their own ways to their field and carved their own paths to the top.
Paul Rand, creator of global brands like IBM, was largely self-taught. So was Ethel Reid, one of the first female pioneers in the industry. So was Raymond Loewy, designer of the iconic Coca-Cola bottle.
Designers come from all types of backgrounds. Wally Olins first studied history, William Bernbach studied literature. What they all had in common is their willingness to immerse themselves in the world of design—to try, learn, and even fail.
That’s where you probably find yourself right now. You’re wondering how to jump headlong into graphic design and start forging your new career.
At Content Workshop, we’re here to help you weigh your options and take the first step.
Let the tools be your teacher
Most designers work with the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, which lets you choose from a host of programs, each designed for a specific graphic function.
Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign programs set the industry standard in design
Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop tools allow you to create designs from scratch with shapes, colors, typography, and hundreds of useful effects. Adobe Indesign helps you create and optimize layouts on the page for print design.
Adobe offers tutorials and training videos for each program to help you build your skills.
Of course, these aren’t the only tools out there. Wacom offers a range of tablets, styluses, and other equipment to set your imagination loose. Like Adobe, Wacom also produces videos to help you get the most out of its products.
Who better to learn from than the creators of the programs themselves? These videos are usually beginner-friendly and were created to methodically scale up your skills bit by bit.
Choose your own adventure
YouTube and other social media platforms have revolutionized the way graphic designers share their tips and tricks with one another. In fact, it’s never been easier to learn graphic design. Not is it free to access these videos, but they often offer bite-sized lessons on a specific technique, allowing you more choice in the skills you work to perfect.
For instance, you may search for tutorials on how to create a business card, or how to use the gaussian blur effect. Many instructors start videos by showing a finished product, then go back to the blank slate and show you how they did it step by step. Falling down a YouTube graphic design rabbit hole isn’t the worst way to learn graphic design.
These content creators tend to have more personality than the industry-produced tutorials and may offer a more accessible gateway to the creative community. Many outlets feature regular design challenges that encourage participants to share their work. The discussions and connections you’ll build from these collaborations can be hugely educational.
Pretty soon, you’ll be offering your own techniques and helping out the next graphic design newbie trying to find their way in.
The danger? A self-guided approach may lead to a mere cobbling together of somewhat random skills without a substantial connective tissue between them.
Pursue a formal education
Though many graphic designers lack a formal education, a formal education has plenty of merits.
As opposed to video tutorials, a real-life teacher will help push your work and lead you to expand the way you think about graphic design. They will expose you to avenues of the field you might not have found on your own. Most importantly, they won’t just tell you how to use the tools. They’ll help you establish your own ideas about what constitutes good design.
This is where self-guided learning can fall short. Though a graphic designer needs mastery of the tools at hand, the tools alone won’t teach you to think bigger. The guidance of a professor or instructor can help you find your own voice, your own style that will set your work apart.
On the downside, formal education comes with a big price tag, especially if you choose to attend a big name graphic design school. However, graphic design courses are becoming more and more mainstream among traditional four-year schools and community colleges, often at far lower prices.
In any case, formal education rarely offers flexibility in its offerings. If you endeavor to learn graphic design around several other obligations and commitments, like so many creatives are, then you might have trouble arranging your schedule around rigid class times and due dates.
Get the best of all worlds
What if you could get the valuable feedback of successful designers and the clout of a traditional diploma by taking courses you choose and completing them on your own time?
Self-guided online courses let you pick what you want to learn while still giving you a structure that helps you choose what to learn next. The best online courses are built on real educational principles and led by real graphic designers who personally examine and respond to your work.
When you finish, you’ll have something to show for your work. A certification from a graphic design course helps prove your credibility to potential employers. The exercises you complete as part of the course help fill out your portfolio work.
Our Graphic Design Course Bundle gives you the skills and credentials to pursue your passion.
It’s our mission to help you develop the skills you need to create the life you want, whether that means pursuing a freelance career, a full-time graphic design job, and anything in between. That’s why our graphic designers worked with leaders in the field of education to build a curriculum that will jumpstart your graphic design career.