Graphic Design – To study or not to study

In the information age it is easy for anyone to pick up any new skill they desire – everything is just a click away. But this got us thinking, while learning a new skill contributes nicely to your CV, is it in fact necessary to have the stamp of an undergrad on there as well? Do you really need to study to be, for example, a graphic designer, or can you get away with just a few tutorials? In this collaborated article, we explore this thought.

To Study

I know there are a lot of brilliant self taught graphic designers out there, I am not one of them. I did do a short course in graphic design, which did not help me at all (they focused mainly on Photoshop and Illustrator). After my course I fell face first into my first internship and realized how behind I was in my craft. Lacking skills, theory and confidence. I struggled my way through each project, never feeling good about my work. After my 3 month internship ended I never wanted to touch another computer again. I learned a lot of new skills during my internship, but not enough to feel comfortable in calling myself a graphic designer.

Graphic design is not just about being creative or being an adobe suite expert. You need to have a completely different mind set. You need to interpret what your client needs into a well designed piece. It’s about going the extra mile and thinking out of that ever so constricting box that everyone always keeps talking about. I could see the difference in my work and my colleges that studied and did a BA Degree in Graphic Design – they knew the process from start to finish while I was grasping at straws not knowing where to hold and where to let go. I am not saying it is impossible to be a brilliant graphic designer without a degree but it takes a heck of a lot of dedication. If I could do it over I would opt for the 3 year degree, for the head start, the confidence and the skills.

– Louise

Not to study

I am a firm believer in life long learning. Not to say that you can’t be a life long learner if you have a degree, but the fact is that you can blossom into a career such as graphic design by way of online tutorials. I have come across a few cases where people have claimed that as soon as they enter the job market following their studies, they have realised that most of what they learnt is out of date. This is not the fault of the institution where they studied, but compiling course text books takes so long, that they just can’t keep up with market trends and developments. For this reason I think on-the-job training is a better way of staying on the cutting edge of the graphic design game.

Whether in the fields of graphic design, marketing or even programming to name a few, many people can and have made excellent careers for themselves using online learning as their foundation. At the end of the day, a degree looks good on paper and offers employers a bit of reassurance, but if you, without the degree, can stay on top of your game and you set up an online portfolio, there is no reason why you cannot compete with any other applicants.

– Mari

Education is never a wasted investment, however we feel that everyone should know that if you are not working in your dream job, you can make a move without worrying about study fees. Hard work always pays off.

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