Here you are freshly graduated and ready to tackle the next phase of your design career. But where do you begin? How can you maximize the coming weeks and really launch yourself into the career you want? Here are my 5 post-graduation tips to get you started.
1. Believe in Yourself
This is so important and there is a reason we are starting here. When you believe in what you can do (even if you're new) you are ahead of the game. You boost your confidence, get prepared and are ready to tackle anything that comes your way. When I first started out, I was so nervous that I wasn't up to par with anyone else in my field. How could I be? I was brand spanking new! The thing is that you must start somewhere and while I may reflect on my newbie self now with a laugh, it was the belief in myself and my ability to learn, try and grow that kept me going.
How to Apply It: Truly access your abilities. What makes you different? What can you do faster? What do others value in your abilities that you can use to boost that confidence? Then remember that being prepared is a huge motivator for confidence. Next time you are preparing for an interview, come prepared with a few of your own questions, practice answering frequent questions with a friend and know how you will talk about your work. If you are giving a presentation, run through it a few times, use the slides as hints to what you are going to say and speak to what you know.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Your days in a classroom may be over, but that doesn't mean you're done learning. Every new project is an opportunity to learn something new about design and grow your skills. You should be challenging yourself with projects that ignite your portfolio outside of classroom work.
How to Apply It: Don't have any real-world experience yet? Create a fake company (or your own) and design their business cards, logo, brochures, etc. Not only will you get some great items for your portfolio, but you'll also learn more about creating cohesive designs for future clients.
3. Look for Opportunities and Take Them
If I didn't say yes to opportunities, I was unsure of, I wouldn't be where I am today. When you are just starting out, it's unrealistic to think you'll be at the top right away. You may have to work a few jobs that aren't your end game or even worse, completely nonrelated to design! Yikes! However, you'll always take away something whether it's a new friend, potential colleague down the line or freelance client.
How to Apply It: Look for jobs that will boost your skills and keep your eyes open at all times to opportunities that will benefit your career. Remember that it may take some time before you get to where you want to be, but the journey is worth it in order to build those skills and your abilities.
4. Find Your Community
I spent a lot of my early days as a one-woman team. As the years went by, I realized how influential the right people can be and I started exploring new ways to meet people offline. Wait no social media? It's true. While social media has been a great tool, it's the face-to-face relationships that have mattered most in building my community. Not only is my business today a reflection of that, but I have also acquired a sweet little army of resources and connections.
How to Apply It: If you are shy like I was, find a connected friend and go with them to community events. Your friend can introduce you and break the ice by sharing what you do. 95% of my business comes from referrals and this is all made possible by the network I've built over the years. Work can come from anywhere at any time. Make sure you are out there and present. Bring those business cards and don't be afraid to talk about what you can do. You're the driver in that realm so push fear aside and get out there!
5. Be Realistic
It took me a good 8 years before I really was ready to venture out solo away from a steady paycheck and full-time job. I always knew I would end here, but I didn't know all the details of how and when. Timelines shift as do goals and opportunities come and go. It's important to be realistic about what you can do, where you want to go and who is going to be with you on that journey.
It takes a lot of hustle, commitment, and strategy to live the design career you want, but it's very possible. Be open to the possibility and understand that change is inevitable, especially in your early years as a designer. Continue to practice those skills, look for every opportunity and build your tribe to support your goals. Good luck designer!
4 Design Hierarchy Tips
Discover my number one method for taking a large chunk of text and breaking it up into a final event poster. I use one of my real-life projects as an example to illustrate the power of hierarchy.
Setting up templates for your book projects is a great time saver that allows you to use the same document again and again. This tutorial will walk you through the basics of setting up a book template in InDesign including the cover, spine and inside pages. Once you master the techniques, you should be able to apply them to any size book including eBooks and paperback novels. View complete tutorial over at Tuts+.
I get lots of viewer questions about book design and many feature obstacles you may run into along the way. In this tutorial, viewer Agon asks 3 key questions about importing manuscript text into InDesign from Microsoft Word. The important thing to remember when working with manuscripts is to match your settings, fonts, sizes, etc. in Word and InDesign from the beginning. That way as you work between the two programs, things match up.
No fear self publishers/authors! Watch this tutorial to get the scoop that will make working from Word to InDesign a breeze.
What You'll Learn
• How to match document specs in Word and InDesign
• How to configure your fonts in Word so they match when you import your text in InDesign
• How to get your mirror your document sizes.
Design a Better Poster
Hi designers! In this tutorial I show you a neat way to bring out your text at the bottom of a character or movie poster without losing detail in your photo.
What you'll learn:
• How to use layer masks for a non-destructive process
• Using gradients to create a contrast on your photos
• How to make text pop off a busy photograph
Hi designers! I'm excited to announce my new course over at Tuts+ Premium. You’ll learn everything you need to get started designing business cards in a variety of formats including horizontal, vertical and square. All source files are included plus 6 different layouts to get you started.
What you'll learn:
• How to design vertical, horizontal and square cards with two alternate designs for each
• How to maximize both sides of your business cards
• Printing options for your business cards
• How to use color from your logo to create a sophisticated and cohesive design
• Plus improve your design and InDesign skills!
Designing Professional Resumes
Hi designers! I'm excited to announce my new course over at Tuts+ Premium. It's packed with fun design tips aimed at creating an eye-catching resume plus fun tips that will help you write up the content in the best way possible. All source files are included plus 3 different layouts. As designers, our resumes and portfolios speak wonders about our ability, so why not make both stand out!?
[button text="Check out the course" size="big" url="https://tutsplus.com/course/designing-professional-resumes/" /] Note select videos are available for free preview. You must be a Tuts+ Premium subscriber to view the entire course. Once you subsribe, you'll have access to all the premium content including all my other print design courses.
Use Transparent PNGs In Your Print Projects
In this tutorial you will learn how to take a transparent image from Photoshop, save it as a .PNG file and place it into an InDesign document ready for print.
Open the image you want to cut the background out of in Photoshop. Then double-click the layer and hit OK to unlock it. Make sure it is a high resolution (300DPI) for print projects.
Remove the background from your layer. There are several ways you can do this. If the background is a solid color you can use the Magic Wand or Quick Selection tools. This tutorial will not go in depth on how to cut out an image from the background since the focus is on saving and placing a transparent image into InDesign.
Next go to File>Save As and make sure you select PNG from the drop down. Note this only works for RGB files. Since you can convert all elements of your print project into CMYK when you save your PDF in InDesign, you can use this RGB file for any print or web project. Give you PNG file a name, choose the location to save it and click Save. Select None in the PNG options pop up window and click OK. You have now successfully created a transparent file to use in your print projects.
Now let's open up InDesign. Create a new document to your desired size. Mine is a sample album cover so it is 4.724 inches square with a 1/8 inch bleed.
Drop in your background image by clicking and dragging it from your folder into InDesign or CTRL+D (Option + D on a Mac) to Place. Then move the background image until you are happy with the placement. You can also resize the image by holding down CTRL+Shift (Option + Shift on a Mac) and clicking and dragging a corner of your image. This constrains the proportions as you resize the image. Make sure your image goes all the way to the red bleed lines.
Drop in your transparent image by clicking and dragging it from your folder into InDesign or CTRL+D (Option + D on a Mac) to Place. Follow the steps above to resize and place your transparent image. You shouldn't see any background color on your image. If you do, make sure you saved the file as a PNG. Note I would clean up this image with some color correction to better match the background image. This is just to show you how a transparent image from Photoshop can be dropped into your print project in InDesign quickly.
Now that you dropped in your transparent PNG image, you can continue designing your document. Add text, more images, etc. I cleaned up the PNG file in Photoshop by adding some color corrections. I also used the Blur tool around the outside edge of the entire image to soften the harsh lines. This makes the final PNG blend better with my background image when I drop it back into InDesign.
Pro Tip: Keep your designs consistent and use colors from your background and transparent images for the text.