Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer
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Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer

A Guide to Careers in Design

Steven Heller, Veronique Vienne

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eBook - ePub

Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer

A Guide to Careers in Design

Steven Heller, Veronique Vienne

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About This Book

Begin your graphic design career now, with the guidance of industry experts

Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer is a single source guide to the myriad of options available to those pursuing a graphic design career. With an emphasis on portfolio requirements and job opportunities, this guide helps both students and individuals interested in entering the design field prepare for successful careers. Coverage includes design inspiration, design genres, and design education, with discussion of the specific career options available in print, interactive, and motion design. Interviews with leading designers like Michael Bierut, Stefan Sagmeister, and Mirko Ilic give readers an insider's perspective on career trajectory and a glimpse into everyday operations and inspirations at a variety of companies and firms.

Design has become a multi-platform activity that involves aesthetic, creative, and technical expertise. Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer shows readers that the field once known as "graphic design" is now richer and more inviting than ever before.

  • Learn how to think like a designer and approach projects systematically
  • Discover the varied career options available within graphic design
  • Gain insight from some of the leading designers in their fields
  • Compile a portfolio optimized to your speciality of choice

Graphic designers' work appears in magazines, advertisements, video games, movies, exhibits, computer programs, packaging, corporate materials, and more. Aspiring designers are sure to find their place in the industry, regardless of specific interests. Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer provides a roadmap and compass for the journey, which begins today.

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Part 1
Graphic Design

What is graphic design? That question has vexed most practitioners who were compelled to answer when a parent asked, “What is it you do again?” Graphic design was once enigmatic—a specialized field that was visible and yet a mystery. Then the computer revolution of the late 1980s brought enlightenment. Apple Computer ran a TV commercial showing a pair of hands doing a pasteup. To paraphrase the voice-over: This is what a graphic designer does. With the Apple you no longer need a graphic designer. With one 30-second spot, the world was introduced to graphic design and told it was obsolete—anyone with a Macintosh could do it. That was the age of “desktop publishing,” a moment in time when it seemed that graphic design was about to be devalued. But clear heads and machines prevailed. Instead of taking over the field, the Mac became its foremost tool. What's more, graphic designers became culturally significant as communicators, aestheticists, stylists, and even authors.
The world became aware that all those beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) books, book covers, posters, magazines, record covers, typefaces, signs, packages, exhibitions, trademarks, and information graphics were all components under the graphic design umbrella. Graphic design is not just about making pasteups and mechanicals or the equivalent on computer using InDesign; it is about conceptualizing, conceiving, imagining, constructing, producing, managing, and realizing an aesthetically determined functional piece of visual communication. Once it was primarily paper; now graphic design affects screens of all kinds. But the fundamental definition of graphic design as a way of organizing, “formatizing,” and functionalizing word and image remains constant.
Graphic designers all speak the same basic language (and use the same jargon), but graphic design is not an intuitive endeavor: Some designers are more adept at fine typography than others, who may be better skilled at sequential narratives or information management. It cannot be done without knowledge of the task, genre, or medium in question. Graphic design must be studied, learned, and continually practiced to achieve even basic proficiency. To go further, to transcend simple service and craft with inspiring work, graphic design must be totally embraced—body and soul.
This section offers a brief survey of some of the current design specialties and hybrids. Some of the viable opportunities discussed in the previous edition have disappeared or are now marginalized. Print work is increasingly being integrated with digital (online or handheld). The following interviews provide insight into and wisdom about the overall graphic design experience—how people became designers and how their careers evolved—with emphasis on each designer's unique specialties.

Chapter 1
Inspirations and Motivations

The decision to become a graphic designer can hit you on the head like a wave on a beach or sneak into your consciousness like a fragrant aroma. Whatever the reason for joining the ranks, inspiration and motivation must be present. This is not just a job—graphic design is a passion. In these next interviews, designers reveal the various ways they were drawn into the vortex by inspirational yet magnetic forces.

Michael Bierut

On Being a Graphic Designer

Saks Fifth Avenue LOOK
Shopping Bags
Saks Fifth Avenue
Designers: Michael Bierut, Jesse Reed Illustrator/photographer: Pentagram
When did you know you wanted to become a graphic designer, and how did you achieve that?
I did a lot of art classes in public school in suburban Cleveland where I grew up. I liked going downtown to the art museum, but I liked looking at the covers of 12-inch records even more. Finally, in the ninth grade someone recruited me to do a poster for the school play. I did something entirely by hand and turned it in on a Friday. By Monday morning it was all over the school. It was thrilling, seeing something I had drawn at home on my kitchen table, out there in the world, seen by everyone. It was also fun to work with the drama people, who were entertaining and dramatic, unlike the art people who were usual circle. Without knowing it then, I decided that Monday morning to be a graphic designer. This combination of entering other private worlds and interpreting for those worlds for a broader public, was what excited me then, and it still excites me now.
Did you have a clue you were doing graphic design?
At that point, I ...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer
APA 6 Citation
Heller, S., & Vienne, V. (2015). Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer (5th ed.). Wiley. Retrieved from (Original work published 2015)
Chicago Citation
Heller, Steven, and Veronique Vienne. (2015) 2015. Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer. 5th ed. Wiley.
Harvard Citation
Heller, S. and Vienne, V. (2015) Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer. 5th edn. Wiley. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Heller, Steven, and Veronique Vienne. Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer. 5th ed. Wiley, 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.