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Starting a Career as a Self-Made Graphic Artist - Getting Started

Becoming a Graphic Artist doesn't happen in one night, not a day or not even weeks. It's a craft that you have to master for years and years to come. It takes determination and passion to do so. Believe me, I've been there. I am a graphic artist by profession and I am sharing you my experience.


I was 12 years old when my brother introduced a software called Adobe Photoshop 7 since he knew I have interests on arts because I drew a lot back when I was a kid. He also saw me using and creating drawings on Microsoft Paint. He showed me Photoshop, and he said "it's kind of same as Paint but on steroids". I got interested to it right away and began to experiment and got a result of my first artwork.

One of my first Photoshop project.   

I will not debate that indeed it is not a good artwork. It lacks concept but the technique is there.  

Since then I began practicing and find new ways to improve myself. I did not take any formal school to study graphic design, because back then We have limited financial incomes to support me. But I was resourceful as I used the huge amount of resources that the web offers. Now I've been working as a graphic artist for the past 5 years. Also experienced being a motion graphic artist and a layout artist. I can say I am a successful and an effective graphic artist but I wont say that I am a great one. I still have lots of thing to learn. 

That said, today I am writing down my tips and suggestions based on my experience.


Approaching the design world is a bit striking to some but your interest and passion will make it easier. Here are some tips that I can suggest to get you started. 

I'm Too Old for This

Most of the people I have spoken to is they are interested but they are hesitant because of their age. I have a colleague of mine once, she ask me if it is too late to be a graphic artist on her age of 28, that question hits me, I was reminded by the quote of the famous Picasso

Nick Ainley, a famous digital artist said  on his about page that he found his love for digital arts while studying physics at university. After completing his degree he moved on to become a full time digital illustrator having clients of the biggest names like Adobe to start with. I've learned that getting in to design does not restrict age. We all are born as creatives but we kind of lost it along the way, its just a matter of reactivating that creativity and sparking up the passion.

Doubt is a Downer

If you feel that your not creative enough or so some say that they don't have an ounce of creativity in their body chemistry. Don't let this back you down, we are humans and we are adaptable. Studying and learning will help you so much.

Inspiration and Motivation

Do you know any artist that you admire so much? That by looking at his art you keep asking yourself "will I ever get to do something creative as this one". In my case I love James Jeans work, his work pushes me to study graphic design. Being inspired by others work can be your motivation. 

Choose Your Area

Before you start, you must make a decision. You must know that graphic design has lots of categories. You must narrow down your choices to one that appeals you. For example; are you interested in advertising (that scope is on marketing visuals such as flyers, package designing, events collaterals etc.) wed development (involves wed design) or animation (focus on motion graphics for TV ads or visual effects). It is important to know what your focusing into because it is not good to be jack of all trades but master of none. Choose your area and focus on it. Be it your goal. 

Now that your doubt is cleared out, your passion is fired up and your inspiration is there, decisions have been made and goals has been set, you need yourself a tool


Working as a graphic artist, I am mostly focuses on marketing collaterals for activations and events so I use industry standard tools like Adobe. Start off learning with these 3 core apps.

But before that I suggest you try draw or hand lettering because most rookie graphic artist are eager to jump on to Photoshop band-wagon, they disregard the basics, to draw. I don't know but a part of me is cringe when someone is called a graphic artist but doesn't have the skill to draw, not event drafts. Hand made designs are becoming appealing in a world where digital is a common thing because hand-crafted designs brings out the human element of aesthetic. 


Known as the famouse industry standard tool, I considered this as one of my core apps on my armory. I recommend you to learn this app as this works perfectly hand in hand with Illustrator and InDesign. It will help you edit photos, create layouts for flyers both digital and print. By also familiarizing the UI of this it will let you familiarise other core Adobe graphic design software. 


Most layout design needs vector based artwork. New versions of Photoshop has the ability to do so but Illustrator is the ideal software for the job. You can create logo, and other vector imagery to go well with your artwork. 


Layout designs are composed of images, text and vector. Photoshop and Illustrator can do the job but not as standard as InDesign can do. Learn this as your compositing tool. 


Referencing is a good way to start. Look out through the web on how graphic design was done by various artists. Look for websites that offers specific tutorials. Below is the list of great websites with established foundation that lives up to their names:

  • Tutsplus Network
  • Abduzeedo
  • Pixel2Life
  • GoMedia
  • InDesignSecrets
  • Lynda
  • Digital Tutors
  • Udemy


As the saying goes, you can't have the skills at one night, you have to work for it. Practice with the tutorials provided by those websites listed above but remember tutorials are merely basics, do not take them as your strict guidelines to abide to. Study them and learn the most out of them and craft your own technique. Do you like a particular work? Well try to remake it with your personal style. There is nothing wrong about learning from others unless it is only a repeated copy without creating something original


Yeah, it's frustrating, every artist had been there but don't give up just yet, you still got a lot to go. Keep on practicing and you can see a natural process that you'll reach your own style. You will realize techniques that you'll felt it's a part of you. If you really wish to become graphic artist as a profession, stop wasting your time on computer only being on social media, watching senseless movies or playing video games. Discipline is very important.

So that said. Go now and create something creative and remember, determination, passion and interest must be your fuel to speed you up. And lastly, be a "carnivore" not a "herbivore". Get out there and fine what you need not wait for it to come to you. 


This post first appeared on Armored Chameleon, please read the originial post: here

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Starting a Career as a Self-Made Graphic Artist - Getting Started


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