6 Replies
David Celaya

Hey Chris,

I think there are two things to consider when we talk about graphic design. One is the use of the actual tools. Just like a carpenter, or plumber, you have to be somewhat comfortable using the tools of your chosen field. Instead of a hammer or a wrench, in the graphics and media field, we use macs and or pc's, and various software programs. You could have all the great ideas in the world, but that wont help you if you arent comfortable using tools to convert those ideas into something that others can see/hear/experience.

A program like Photoshop for example, can take years to master, but just about anyone with the desire can learn 4 or 5 basic functions and then build upon those skills. You could build some pretty impressive things with just a hammer, a saw, some wood and a bunch of nails. Then later on, you start to learn the use of power tools, and more advanced methods of construction. The same applies to graphics software.

As for the other part of graphic design, having the "eye"...well thats a little tougher. Some people say that you either have a creative eye, or you dont. It's sometimes tough to find out. The "design" part of graphic design means problem solving.

Your car has an interior that was "designed". Someone thought of what was needed, took into consideration all the things that they could and could not do, then began to "layout" the pieces in a way that would most benefit the user. In the case of a car, the user is the driver and passengers. In the case of graphics and media design, the user is the person that the images, sound, etc are meant for. The customer, the student, the course viewer...etc. these are the people that will "use" your graphic design.

If you want a free bit of education, you can do what the classical painters, sculptors, etc did. When they apprenticed with a Master, one of the things they had to do was to be able to re-create what their teacher had already done. In order to copy what someone else has done, you must learn HOW they did it, how they got to the end result. Find things that you see that you think are cool, things that you look at and say, "wow, i wish i had done that". Then copy it. Dont try to pass that copy off as your own work, but try to copy it just to see if you can! In that way youll force yourself to breakdown what the original artist did to get to the final piece. In this way, you may begin to see why they chose the images, colors, placement, type, etc. that they did. And then begin to take what you learn from them, and combine it with your own ideas to come up with something unique.

Hope this was somewhat helpful.

El Burgaluva

Hi, Chris

Buy this: http://www.amazon.com/Non-Designers-Design-Type-Books-Deluxe/dp/0321534050

It's a must-have.

(Some people will recommend "White Space is Not Your Enemy". Good book, I suppose, but nothing new if you've read the one I just linked to and the coverage of typography is much more in depth.)

And possibly: http://www.amazon.com/Graphic-Design-Nondesigners-Step---Step/dp/0811868311/

This second one is somewhat focused on old-school printshop graphic design so you can skip Section 1 and some later parts, but there are 20 simple projects in there that -- while not overly exciting in and of themselves -- will give you something upon which to sharpen your graphics chops.

And while I was grabbing those links from Amazon, I found (and immediately ordered! ) this:


Spend $40 or $50 on a few good graphics books (another good one, actually, is Slide:ology) and then just have at it. Much cheaper than signing up for a course right away and if you knuckle down, you should see some real results within a few months.

Then, if you're interested enough, you might like to check out courses. Nothing will be enrolling this time of year anyway so why not take the next couple of months and less than a hundred bucks to see what you can do with just PowerPoint and, say, SumoPaint or The Gimp or Photoshop Elements (buy cheap on eBay or from Officeworks/Office Depot).

Hope that helps!


April Kitchen

The first step is being willing to learn, so you've got that down! 

I would consider myself amateur in working with graphics - I can manipulate vectors and images that others have created, but I don't really tackle making them myself. However, between all of the graphics packs that are out there and some basic skills with PhotoShop and Illustrator, you can do quite a bit. 

I used Lynda.com tutorials, as well as some YouTube tutorials to learn these programs. Sometimes the sample projects give you good design ideas as well. 

chris boucher

Thanks everyone for the responses. If anyone is curious, a course that I found that looks good is:


My only concern with it is that it looks intensive. It may make more sense for me to pick up a book or check out some lynda.com tutorials or a less-intensive, more self-paced online course...