Being in industry for almost 10 years, I’ve stumbled upon many challenges of being a self educated graphic designer.
Started as a playing around in Photoshop, now I am full time graphic designer at online company and also owner of small business called IamLoudness, personal poster shop and blog.
So before we jump into discussion we can point one thing for sure – You can be self taught graphic designer. All you need is internet connection. And good will. And patience. And Frustration management. And motivation & inspiration. And path to follow. Nothing much.
While reading lots of interviews and talks about making it happen in graphic design industry, I was stunned with how much details are just the same in the process of actually becoming a GD, doesn’t matter if self taught or educated.
As I can’t really put myself in the boots of academy educated GD, I will write advantages and drawbacks of self taught one.
Everything you can and want to know is well documented somewhere behind your google search. And you love it. Anything between “kerning meaning in typography” or “how to photoshop horse to look like unicorn pooping rainbow” is available as a free lesson.
You learn at your own pace and just the things you are interested in, which makes whole process a lot more enjoyable than standard curiculum with lots of boring parts.
When stucked on project, you’ll find some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, and notice things that you like and don’t like, pick ones you love and try to recreate them. It is a great investment in your skills and developing your overall creative voice.
Puting challenges in front of you in your personal engagement is something that will make you feel good. Although you can expirience creative blocks and blues times, you can always check your progress so far and see that you are actually advancing in a great manner.
It is a good practice to do retrospective views on your progress.
Don’t forget to check your old work and see where have you been. I recommend listening podcasts of some graphic designers doing their work great and not being ashamed or afraid to put their mindflow and overall attitude for work just for educational purposes.
Starting your blog may also be a great, but not necessary step. Everything you do can be a side project and it really depends on how much effort you put into, which is a good life lesson also. Portfolio may suck in the beginning of whole process, but as the time and skills go further, you are free to put aside bad logos and replace them (never EVER delete them).
Let’s cut the bullshit right in the start – No, you don’t have freedom. You will start and make your own things for sure, you’ll do whatever you like and learn in process of creating, but you’ll probably have some influencers and inspiration on your mind. You will follow them and try to be better every day in every new work you do, and you’ll meet frustration as you become slave of your personal improvement in this field.
When you finally find a way to live with frustration, you’ll notice that you miss a lot of things that are presumed to be fundamental, and you skipped them generously for your satisfaction and enjoying in the photoshop/illustration magic.
Every time you notice that you are missing some basics, you have to get back and learn it from the scratch. Not because you want it like you’ve learned everything, but because you HAVE TO. And there comes more intravenous shot of frustration.
Insecurity in the company of educated graphic designers is also important, being you never know what you are missing and you’ll rather
stay aside and shut up than talk about something you are not comfort with. (good call)
Being you take your skill personally, it is kind of hard to get the bad critique and feedback for your work. It is a matter of self control and rationality to make the right reaction and not to take it on personal level.
You have to polish your communication skills, which is again a process of learning, but it is valuable skill and worth all the time and practice.
You’ll do what you’ll do anyway. Everybody wants to be good, no matter the costs on time and effort.
Formal education leads you on a good path and introduces you day by day with everything you know, the rules to follow and that there are no rules in the same time. It will put a great fundamentals for you to develop your creative voice and to have good qualities right from the beginning.
But self taught is a great for lots of reason. Process is fun. Everything feels good as you progress. You take just what you want to make what you need.
I can’t really say which one is better, self-taught or formal education, but i know one thing for sure: Education matters in the whole story. It is not the medium where you get it, but the goals.
Feel free to share your stories in comments bellow. Thank you for reading.