In order to achieve the goal of having a successful and fulfilling career as a graphic designer, you must have talent, a willingness to work hard, an education from a reputable design school, and access to high quality design tools.
Determining whether or not you have the required talent, or are willing to work hard is up to you. Selecting the best school and design tools, on the other hand, requires a bit of research. In order to help you make the best choices, here is a list of design schools, along with a complete list of essential tools. For your convenience and education, there is an unbiased description of each tool and school.
Graphic Design Schools
The Kansas City Art Institute is located in Kansas City, MO. It offers a Bachelor’s degree program in Graphic Design along with other programs in Digital Film Making, Digital Print Making, Photography, and Animation. Students in the Graphic Design program use software such as Photo Shop, Illustrator, and In Design. In addition to this, students also develop their artistic skills by drawing, painting, and engaging in other creative pursuits. Students who graduate from the Kansas City Art Institute often pursue careers as graphic designers in retail establishments, as illustrators, artistic directors, website designers, and desktop publishers. KCAI is a great school for students who want to develop a strong foundation as an artist in addition to developing commercially applicable skills. As a private institution, tuition costs are steep. However, the majority of students do qualify for financial assistance.
The Rhode Island School of Design is located in Providence, Rhode Island. RISD offers its students a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. The BFA program is a four year one, in which RISD students develop their communications and problem solving skills along with their understanding of design theory. The students spend the majority of their time in the studio where they utilize both digital and traditional design resources. Projects students complete involve anything from packaging design to book and magazine design. They have access to 3-D printers, plotters, a photographic lighting studio, and more state of the art equipment. Because students must learn printing and typesetting skills, they will also spend time in the paper making and silkscreen studios. The equipment they will use includes a Vandercook printing press, Wiro binding machines, and a vast assortment of metal and wood type. This is an elite school and cost of attendance is over 45K. Fortunately, financial aid is available.
Students attending DAAP who are interested in Graphic Design can pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Communication Design. DAAP students choose to focus on one of three areas of concentration. These are, time based design, interactive design, and print based design. Students who focus on print based design will do the following:
- Packaging design
- Publication layout
- Logos and branding
- Signage and Environmental marketing
Students who are focused on time based design will spend their time learning:
- Television animation
- Game design
- Movie Editing
- Website design
Interactive design students will focus on:
- Interactive gaming
- Web Design
- Mobile Apps
DAAP graduates may work for advertising firms, publishers, design firms, or in marketing departments of corporations.
Robert Morris is a multi-campus university. However, its Chicago, IL location is well known for its Graphic Design program that is part of the university’s Institute of Art and Design. The Graphic Design program uses an educational approach that combines the development of technical skills and fine arts development, in order to produce well rounded graduates. Students may pursue an Associates of Applied Science degree in Graphic Design, or they may pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science in the same academic discipline. Because both degrees are in the areas of applied science, prospective students can expect to spend a lot of time completing hands-on projects that will help them to learn practical skills. This will prepare them for entry level employment in Graphic Design careers. This school is a great choice for students seeking a faster path to employment.
Graphic Design Tools
No matter where you decide to pursue your graphic design education, or if you decide to become a self-taught designer, you will need the right tools. Here is a list of graphic design tools that you should seriously consider:
With this tool, you can add a watermark to any of your printable designs. This is a must-have tool for anybody who wishes to protect his/her ownership of original designs.
If technical design is in your wheelhouse, Gliffy allows you to create floor plan layouts, flow charts, and diagrams.
This is a free utility that will help you find the perfect online font for your current project.
Use this software to design and create your own fonts.
The proper use of color palettes can have a huge impact on the success of design projects. This free utility allows you to create, categorize, and select the perfect palettes for each design.
This is a great repository of stock photos, pictures, and videos. Stock images are a very cost effective way to communicate with others using visual images. Pricing plans on ShutterStock vary.
GIMP provides users with much of the same functionality that is offered by Photoshop, without the steep price. GIMP is also compatible with a variety of operating systems.
Illustrator is a comprehensive design tool that can be used by graphic designers of all skill levels.
If you are looking to start a career as a graphic designer, you may want to look into any one of these colleges. You may also want to add some of the utilities discussed here to your graphic design tool box. After all, good tools combined with a quality education are sure to add up to success no matter what your career goals happen to be.