(BPT) - Graphic design isn't only about creating logos, advertisements or promotional materials. Graphic design is a creative process that involves developing a targeted visual communication through words and images. This means there are numerous skills that aspiring or seasoned graphic design professionals - or career changers - can develop to keep up with the latest industry trends.
"There has never been a more exciting time for careers in graphic design, especially with the advancement of digital media," says Don French, owner of graphic design firm French & Associates and program director of graphic design at Brooks Institute
, a leading provider of higher education for film, visual journalism, graphic design and photography. "With the evolution of both traditional and digital design, graphic designers or those who want to pursue this career must continually develop their skills to stay relevant in the changing media landscape."
Based on his experience as a working professional and educator, French notes the following key skills that graphic design professionals, career changers or students should consider developing for today's marketplace:
* Learn the visual arts. Proficiency in visual arts like drawing and photography give graphic designers a more diverse portfolio. Photography skills, for example, may not only expand designers' resumes but allow them to take images of their work for portfolios or for use in print and website projects. Sketching and drawing skills may be transferrable for design work on paper and on a computer screen, which is a great way to work out concepts quickly and especially important given the increased emphasis on digital design. Designers seeking additional experience in the visual arts can read industry publications and blogs, continue their education at colleges with specialized visual arts programs, like Brooks Institute, or volunteer their services to non-profit organizations.
* Embrace digital media. As digital media continues to grow, graphic designers may discover opportunities with website design-related careers, which may incorporate elements such as typography, layout, visual design and even online copywriting. In addition to understanding design software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, Web design positions usually require proficiency in user interface and experience as well as some knowledge of HTML, XHTML and CSS. Training courses, whether online or in person, are available to learn these skills. It's also important to participate in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to gain hands-on experience. Building skills in search engine optimization and online marketing can further diversify resumes.
* Become business-savvy. No matter whether you're working at an agency, a company's creative department, or even freelancing, basic business skills are a necessity for any graphic designer. Understanding your clients' business is crucial to meeting their graphic design needs, whether you're tasked with redesigning a website or creating the layout for a company publication. Many colleges offer business classes both online and in person for those looking to brush up on their business skills. In addition to understanding your clients' business goals, project and time management skills will help you prioritize your work and deliver the desired results, or even manage your own freelance business.