Is Graphic Design a Good Career? Spoiler Alert: Yes, It Is!

Is Graphic Design a Good Career? Spoiler Alert: Yes, It Is!

Nowadays I am retired, I have been a graphic designer for 35 years. There hardly was a day I didn’t want to go to my studio to start my day. It goes without saying that the profession is still part of my heart.

The world has changed hugely in those 35 years, as you can imagine. After all, everything changes all the time.

The question “Is graphic design a good career choice” was frequently asked of me, both by my clients and by students and interns. Despite all the changes, I could always answer with a resounding yes.

Some of the links might be affiliate links. As an affiliate associate, I earn a small commission when you purchase any of the products offered through the shared links at no extra cost to you. This helps me to maintain this website.

Is graphic design a good career?

If you’re creative, have a sense of composition, proportion and colour, and have a business mind, graphic design is a great career path.

Developments in graphic design

Infographic 1 hour before breakfast
An infographic I made for my other website. Download it for free.

In the 16th century, a printer was also a publisher, graphic designer, a typesetter, and often also a bookbinder.

Gradually there were more and more specializations, which were practised by different people. When I started, there were even specializations within the graphic design profession.

During my working life, that tendency has been completely reversed. Due to digitization, everyone is doing everything again. 

The investments are considerably smaller than 40 years ago. Having a computer and a good printer will get you started.

10 Aspects that make my profession attractive

According to communication specialists, a message is attractive to someone if it is fun, interesting, educational, worthwhile, intriguing, distinctive, relaxing, entertaining, inspiring or amusing.

As far as I am concerned, this not just applies to communicating but also to occupation and my own profession has all those characteristics. Let’s observe.

GVB driving the tram

Fun

“Will you come and drive the tram?” our client GVB, a local transport organization, asked in 1998. “Sure! Nice!” my 3 employees and I replied. So the 4 of us went to Amsterdam for – as we believed – a sightseeing tour on the tram.

The moment we boarded, we discovered we were supposed to drive that tram ourselves!

Oops! Oh, oh!

Such a cool and fun ride we had. I did not really see much of Amsterdam that day, busying myself with the speed/brake handle and worrying people would get themselves beneath the wheels. But it was a studio trip we never forgot.

Interesting

A graphic designer makes corporate identities for a variety of businesses. So I have designed for a machine factory, trainers, a garage, several multinationals, PR agencies, a bank, the government (local as well as provincial as well as national), the police, coaches, NGOs, healthcare agencies, real estate, schools, and numerous small businesses. 

Even a monastery was on the list. Something I particularly thought was hilarious, as I am an atheist and a woman. They were one of my sweetest clients, I can add.

It is so interesting to be able to go in-depth in all those industries.

My bookpresentation
One of the best things you can do is write a book about your profession and give a presentation about it.

Educational

A good graphic designer is able to explain complex matters in a clear manner by means of text and/or images.

The most obvious example of this is infographics. They are very educational.

Another educational aspect is having interns. I had a lot of them during the years and not only could I teach them a lot, but they also taught me of course. This way I kept abreast of the latest trends and techniques.

Worthwhile

This really is one of the funniest blog posts about my profession I know of. It takes some time to read it all, but it’s worth the effort. Hilarious.

Intriguing

A manual that is printed in an easy-to-read font is considered an easy-to-perform task. A manual that is put in a difficult-to-read font is seen as a difficult task. This way you can influence your readers’ perception the way you want it. (Research: Song & Schwarz, 2009)

An unexpected example is the font choice of a restaurant. Using a difficult-to-read font gives the cook a knowledgeable and expert image. Candlelight is not only romantic from that perspective.

Related: Why is Choosing the Right Font Important to be Competitive?

Distinctive

Do well-designed logos have hidden messages? A lot of them have, as you can see in these 30 examples.

Related: How is Negative Space Helpful for Designers and Artists?

Relaxing

I often had a relaxing cup of coffee with my clients and potential customers. We would set up a discussion on how great graphic design is and I showed my portfolio!

Other great activities are joining networks and talking with colleagues, and giving lectures about graphic design and its implications. Although the latter is not relaxing for everyone.

Car lettering

Entertaining

I still enjoy myself during long car rides by evaluating trucks and their lettering. Marvellous! I usually have a strong opinion about it as well. Meaning that most of them are terrible at getting their message across.

Look at this one. It doesn’t say TRANS but T R ANS. The website positioned the company as modern but have a peek at that old-fashioned horse and carriage. Is that making the right statement about how fast the company’s transportation will be? 

Inspiring

I regularly gave myself themed assignments, and later when I had a staff, at them as well. That was wonderful. Working on a project without a deadline and without customer interference.

For years I worked on an alphabet project. This allowed me to try out techniques without the risk of damaging a customer order. That experiment inspired both myself and my colleagues.

Amusing

Roadsign in Mons, Belgium

Signs are often amusing. I encountered this example in Mons, Belgium, and I couldn’t phantom which direction I had to go. I asked my Facebook readers which direction the centre of the city was and they got confused as well.

What people ad to signs is even more fun. The creativity that results when people see something and react to it is wonderful to me.

Have a look here. I think no. 15 is really hilarious!

Do or did you have a great profession like mine? What is it? Let me know in the comment box below. It’s always interesting to know what everyone is doing.

This article is an update. Originally published on 20-08-2015.

Wealthy Affiliate
Join me at Wealthy Affiliate and start with a free 10-lesson course.

4 thoughts on “Is Graphic Design a Good Career? Spoiler Alert: Yes, It Is!”

  1. Hi Hannie, I have a wonderful job! I am happy when I see the profit of my customers increase, and see them get a lot of fun, time and energy from their passion again. And see them taking the steps that make them happy.

    And when you talk about ‘what you encounter’ that has to do with your profession. I was a buyer for Heineken for 12 years. Advertising materials, bottles, bottle caps, and cans still have my interest. I can still distinguish Heineken green from many shades of green (it was no PMS colour, BTW) and I still only see the round illuminated advertisements of…Heineken in every street.

    Reply
      • There is the amazing advertising campaign of Heineken: Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach. For example, one of the campaign posters showed two faces of the same guy. On the left side, you see the guy with his mouth open, and hardly any teeth. On the right side, his teeth are back again and shine brightly. Very powerful. As far as I can remember this campaign was rewarded many times over.

        In my view, graphic design has always been and still is an amazing profession. There are so many technical constraints keeping creativity in check, that I am always surprised at the creative and ingenious results these designers achieve. I totally agree, Hannie, it is a good career choice.

        Reply

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.