Things You Don’t Learn in Graphic Design School

In Design by Alana Lemke

It is well-known that much of our learning for any particular career occurs after school in the “real-world”. Whether you are pursuing a degree in graphic design or are only considering it, there are a few things that are just not taught in design school, and it can be beneficial to get a glimpse into what those may be. I believe design school professors squeeze as much as they can into the time that’s given, but of course, there is just so much to learn in the graphic design world; soft skills as well as endless hard skills. Here are a few things I would have liked to have gotten a jump start on.

Time Management

I fondly remember being assigned a logo design project and subsequently being given a two to three week time period to complete the project. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in the workforce. At times, your deadline is in a couple of days. On top of that, you will have a list of multiple projects that are to be completed in varying time frames. It’s your job to decipher the hierarchy of all these projects, how long it will take to complete each one and what are the best workflow processes to make it all happen.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Speed in design work becomes crucial in the workplace as you navigate the varying deadlines of projects. Keyboard shortcuts are your best friend, and I could not live without them. The effect they have on your work speed is invaluable. Start practicing these now and they will become second nature before you know it.

Design With Subject Matters That Don’t Inspire You

Seriously. Too often in design school, we are given free reign on the subject matter of a project. Naturally, I chose things that lead to the artwork I preferred making or I at least chose subjects that inspired me. A majority of the time, you are working on projects that you don’t necessarily have a keen interest in designing. But as a graphic designer, you are more than an artist in essence. You are a visual communicator. And it’s your job to communicate a client’s message no matter the business. I’d suggest challenging yourself with random and various “companies” and get comfortable designing projects that do not spark immediate inspiration.

As with most jobs, it just takes time and practice to perfect your skills. Hopefully, you’re researching what it’s really like to be a graphic designer. And keep designing and growing!