How to Become a Graphic Designer - Complete Guide | Lindsay Marsh | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

How to Become a Graphic Designer - Complete Guide

teacher avatar Lindsay Marsh, Over 500,000 Design Students & Counting!

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class preview


    • 2.

      Introduction to Graphic Design as a Profession


    • 3.

      The Step-by-Step Process


    • 4.

      Next Steps and Student Project


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

NOTE: Make sure to download the pdf resource that goes along with this class. You can find the link to it on the right column of this project & resources page. 

Want a quick guide that walks you through the different steps to becoming a professional graphic designer? This class does just that by providing you with resources and a step-by-step plan on learning graphic design.

I answer popular questions many students have like, do I need to be good at drawing to be a good designer? What equipment or software do I need to learn, what types of projects would I do each day and do I need a formal degree to be successful as a graphic designer?

We talk specifics about equipment, cheaper software alternatives and I give you an order of what to learn first.

Learning graphic design can seem a bit overwhelming at first but this quick class as designed to help you feel more confident in making this learning path easy, enjoyable and possible. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Lindsay Marsh

Over 500,000 Design Students & Counting!


I have had many self-made titles over the years: Brand Manager, Digital Architect, Interactive Designer, Graphic Designer, Web Developer and Social Media Expert, to name a few. My name is Lindsay Marsh and I have been creating brand experiences for my clients for over 12 years. I have worked on a wide variety of projects both digital and print. During those 12 years, I have been a full-time freelancer who made many mistakes along the way, but also realized that there is nothing in the world like being your own boss.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to be able to take classes at some of the top design schools in the world, Parsons at The New School, The Pratt Institute and NYU. I am currently transitioning to coaching and teaching.

See full profile

Level: All Levels

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Class preview: when a quick guide that walks you through the different steps to becoming a professional graphic designer. This class does just that by providing you with the resource is and step by step plan on learning graphic design. I answer popular questions many students have like Do I need to be good at drawing to be a good designer? What equipment or software do any learn? What types of projects would I do each day? And do I need a formal degree? To be successful is a graphic designer way. Even talk specifics about equipment, cheaper software alternatives, and I give you an order of what toe learn first learning graphic design consume a bit overwhelming at first, but this quick class was designed to help you feel more confident and making this learning path easy, enjoyable and totally possible. 2. Introduction to Graphic Design as a Profession : I want to be creative all day for a living. I want to get paid to complete projects that would otherwise do for free because you enjoy so much. Do you want to turn a hobby into a business? I want to play big roles and help businesses earn new clients views and make money. Graphic design is the art of communication through the use of typography, photos, color and layout. They help to communicate messages on behalf of businesses and organizations. This message can be a visual aid to help sell a new product. It could be the presentation of a magazine article that motivates the person to pick it up . It could be a simple social media graphic that drives viewer engagement and click throughs . Graphic design plays such a vital part of the marketing process. Most people think of graphic designers as just creative people and reality graphic designers need to be both creative and business savvy. They need to have a solid understanding of how to craft visual experiences that drive sales views and content engagement with the desire target audience, you will have many creative tasks like brainstorming, concepts, sketching, color palette and typography selection photo editing and more on the business side of things you'll be helping to market products and services. You'll be completing tasks like creating social media ads, working with ad copy and headlines, working with product photography and helping businesses brand themselves just to name a few things you might be doing without graphic design. Most communications may look like this, with dull headlines and type choices applying basic graphic design principles. You could turn that lay out from this to this. That transformative process is the art of graphic design, which add looks better. Your role would be to understand the why and to take complex messages and simplified as much as possible. Which design grabs your attention the most. As a designer, you'll understand graphic design principles like contrast and color and how to use it effectively. To help you find out of pursuing graphic design as a career might be for you, I'm gonna answer a few very common questions I get from students who are asking themselves that very question. Do I need a formal degree in graphic design to become a graphic designer? Absolutely not. Traditionally a four year bachelor's degree or a two year technical program was a requirement for most graphic design jobs. The world has growing Access Tomlin education options in the requirement for a formal degree. Our design degree is fading. A formal degree program could be engaging and worthwhile. However, it's not always accessible to most students because of the high cost and also the large time commitment. There's an evolution happening in the way that businesses seek and find creative talent. They want to hire designers who are competent and software but can also produce beautiful, professional, consistent work regardless of any kind of formal degree training. This is huge as it opens up doors for everyone. Education costs are no longer a limitation. And that being said, which you need to do or learn the foundations of great design and how to produce riel world very practical design projects that are in demand. Another question I get asked a lot is Do I need to be good at drawing to become a successful graphic designer? And the short answer is no drawing and illustration skills can come in handy, but it's not a requirement. The biggest requirement is a knack for knowing how to communicate messages well with a clear defined goal. Some may say that graphic design in the traditional sense as a profession that is in decline are dying. I love to disagree. Graphic design has so many touchpoints not only in the print world but in the upcoming digital world as well. What are the typical projects you might do as a graphic designer? Visualized in the graphic? Here are many graphic design specialties or folk I, including logo and branding work, website design, user interface, experienced design package design, print and editorial design, layout design, stationery design, social media ad design. And there's still many more. The bad news is, is, since there so many possible project types that fall in this profession, it could feel a little overwhelming. And you could have one client that needs a logo design and branding work in another client that ask you to design websites. You can have a social media campaign to create or a magazine layout in the same day. The good news is, with such variety of projects, a day is never the same. Each day brings something new, and it's an opportunity to stretch yourself creatively. Clients could be different to with different styles, tastes and deadlines. Graphic design is not for those who simply want to repeat the same tasks over and over. Typical graphic design projects can be the following logo design. Large banners, posters and billboards, social media graphics display ads and Web site images. Direct mailing or email, campaign design, branding, work, placing logos and branded assets on T shirts, hats, mugs, stationery, car wraps and more. The good news is you can learn to specialize in a handful of these project types as you gain experience. Specializing in branding work, for example, can help you charge higher prices as your portfolio will be more focused in your experience , much more specific. Now, this is a big question. What graphic design project types make the most money? Not all instructors like to answer this question because they might be afraid they're wrong . But I'm gonna answer this for you because I think it could be very helpful. And understanding of graphic design might be for you. In my over 15 years of experience, I find the following projects fairly profitable. I am listing these from most profitable from my personal experience to the least. This all varies on your individual client budgets, company size, your personal skills and talents. So logo design and branding work. U i or user interface design, package design, print advertising, editorial design so books, magazines, etcetera, digital advertising, graphics and social media graphics. Are you noticing a theme here? They're all projects that help businesses sell products or services. Remember when I mentioned how graphic design takes creativity and combines it with marketing or business? This does not mean you cannot make money with T shirt designs or illustrations or vector art. There are many people who make a good living doing those, but some of those jobs are a bit harder to find. So what type of graphic design projects are businesses looking for? I'm taking a quick look at up work dot com, and I'm going to go to the posted projects with the highest budgets you'll find. The highest budget projects are geared more toward digital design jobs, like creating email campaigns, slide decks, PowerPoint, slide design, landing page graphics, Facebook campaigns and infographics. There's also lots of jobs that require a few different skill sets as well, including traditional print design branding, local design and various graphics for business events. When first starting out in design, you may have to be more broad in the types of projects you do and find that focus later on after finding success and a particular focus. What equipment do I need is a graphic designer big popular question, and the news here is not a whole lot is required. I personally like to work on a laptop so I can bring my work with me wherever I go, and it's a more affordable option. Sometimes any laptop that was made in the last five years worked just fine. The biggest requirement is having enough RAM or physical memory to run various design software's you'll need Adobe Photoshopped, illustrator and in design require at least four gigabytes to run. An eight gigabyte gigabytes is recommended by Adobe. A. Mac or Windows will do as long as it meets the software requirements. Tablets are nice for hand sketching or creating custom typography. This is useful if you tend tohave that rare talent for illustration and drawing. As I mentioned before, A talent for drawing is not always required and graphic design and the tablet is not always required, either outside of a decent laptop with a nice bit of ram. It's good to have a lot of free, hard drive space for those large client files. If not, you can always use cloud storage options like Google Drive or back up all your files on a physical plug in hard drive. Also, screen size is very important to a designer. The bigger the screen, the more you can see your project layouts and design with ease. My 16 inch Mac book Pro does a good job of giving me that right amount of workable space. I used to have a 13 inch MacBook Air early on in my career, and I found that space to be too cramped. I had to zoom in a lot and zoom out on my projects, and it was a little bit hard to see my entire design piece. But as a designer, you can still work with any laptop and with any limitation, as long as you can run the software. That is, of course, the most essential part of finding a good laptop or desktop. So how long does it take to become a graphic designer? And that depends solely on you and your desire to learn the new software and grow for me to finally get started getting paid client work consistently and took me around one year of study. I got a bachelor's degree in marketing, but I have to teach myself online various design software and design foundations theory. But I practiced, practiced in practice now would do this every evening after work, and sometimes I'll stay up till 2 a.m. In the morning. I had a true passion for design, and I still do. I think this passion helped to push me forward and that self learning journey online courses were not popular back when I started to learn. So I had to learn through reading books, getting inspiration from others online. I crafted my graphic design masterclass course to give students what I wish I had when I first started, which was an order of what toe learn first. And that brings me to the next lesson. What is the process of learning to become a graphic desire? We're going to answer those questions and more coming up next 3. The Step-by-Step Process : design as a rewarding and enjoyable career that offers the ability to work at home as a freelancer or as part of a large company. You can fill the role as a graphic designer in several ways, including a full time in house designer, Ah, full time freelance designer or working an ad agency as a graphic designer. So how do you become a graphic designer? A lot of people ask me that question, and they want a step by step instructional guide to how to become a graphic designer. So this lesson will do just that and break it down to a nice, simple step by step instruction. So what do I learn first, and where do I get started? It's a little overwhelming at first for a lot of people. To become a confident graphic designer, you need to lay down some basic design theory. Foundations. Design theory is at the heart of strong design and can include things like color layout and typography theory. These are the core principles that make up most graphic design projects. Think about what grabs your attention when scrolling through your instagram or Facebook feed. Ask yourself what makes me want to click on that ad. This is the critical question you help answer for companies and clients. When you are a graphic designer, what is the headline? What's the font choice? The size of the type, the way the photo is cropped, the color palette. What was used? Here's a short list of some vital design theory terms and techniques. I would encourage you to learn to train your designer's eye and build a solid theory foundation. First of all, color theory. Know how to combine colors for certain situations. Color harmonies learned the standard color harmonies and how different colors are connected via the color wheel. Typography. This is a big one. Know the difference between different font types like San Serif, Serif script, decorative and more font pairing. Be ableto pair different typefaces together and one design document and have them look cohesive. Type and layout hierarchy learn how to focus the viewer on the most important items. First, to the least important lay out knowing which layouts work best for certain situations. Contrast and scale. Learned how to use contrast and scale design psychology. Understand how to set the mood and the tone for a design piece that matches the desired emotion you want to evoke. Of course, there are many other design theory fundamentals that you want to master, so this is a shortened list, but the's air some of the big ones to help get you started. So what's the next step? It's time to learn the industry. Standard design software. Once you feel confident with the basics of design theory, you're ready to start practicing your design knowledge and practical ways. There's some choices when it comes to learning design software. The industry standard software is Theodore Be Creative Cloud Suite of Products, the three most commonly used adobe products that graphic designers whose daily or adobe photo shop illustrator and in design There are alternative design programs you can learn at the Adobe. Creative Cloud subscription is a bit too expensive for you. One option is a company called Serif. It is called the affinity sweet, and it includes Affinity Photo, which is a photo editing program, affinity designer, a vector program and affinity publisher, a layout program. Lastly, there are free open source software options. They may not have all the bells and whistles as they formation software, but they provide a similar experience for photo editing. There is one called gimp, and for a vector program, there is one called Escape. But no matter which one of the above software choices you choose, you at least have to master one of the following software types and have it on your get to know list. First of all, master a photo editing software, so this could be Photoshopped affinity photo or gimp photos can play vital roles and graphic designs of learning. A photo editing software is imperative to be able to edit those photos, but to also be able to prepare and create graphics for the Web like Web headers, social media images, animated GIFs and more. And then there's a vector based software, so this could be adobe illustrator, affinity designer or something like Escape a vector based program as where you can create most of your local designs. Icons and illustrations. Vectors are scalable graphics, meaning you can stretch a graphic or logo 10 times its size, and it still remains crisp and clear. Vector software has something called the pin tool as well, which makes crafting and editing custom shapes for local designs, icon designs and mawr. A breeze Lastly, the final software type he should learn is some layout software, so this could be your adobe in design or affinity publisher and knowing layout software is required if you want to be able to do layout and design. Large books, magazines and P D EFS layout software was created to handle a large amount of pages. It also has extra paragraph management tools and options that help you create different types of layouts that you see in magazines and catalogs. So what is the next step after we've learned theory and now we know some of the software. Now we need to learn how to create a wide variety of popular design projects. This is a lot of students favorite part. They get to use the software and design theory knowledge to create riel stuff. And, as they say, practice makes perfect. And that cannot be more true when it comes to learning. Graphic design graphic designers have to be able to produce such a wide variety of project types. Your job now will be to learn to create each project type and the unique process involved in their creation. Moving through each one of these design tasks will help you not only understand how to put them together technically, but to also help you figure out you're designed focus and your unique design style. For example, local design and logos or an in demand popular graphic design task, from sketching concepts to recreating your sketch and vector format to incorporating color logo design can be very rewarding. Graphic Design Focus. It takes some time to master, but I encourage you to create one local design each day or even participate in a logo a day challenge like the one you see here to get comfortable with the lower design brainstorming process. Then there's Brandon Materials and print projects. Companies employ graphic designers to put their brand on all sorts of items from T shirts, hats, stationary, large banners, signage and more. As a graphic designer, you'll need to not only know how to design a great layout for these products, but also be able to use the software to size and export files for professional reproduction and printing. On these items, there's also editorial design, and a graphic designer can be in charge of creating an entire magazine layout is one clue in deciding where the articles headlines and photos go on a page, the front cover of the magazine or publication and more. This also can include book and catalog layouts. You'll also want to know how to prepare an export these files so they can be produced and printed by professional printing companies, custom graphics, icons and illustrations. Some graphic designers like to do custom illustrations and digitize. Um, you see this a lot on custom illustrated T shirt designs, bags, another type of apparel or home decor, and that's just scratching the surface of graphics side projects. That's a whole lot to learn. And, you might ask, Am I supposed to master all of those project types? And here's my suggestion. Try out several of the popular graphic design project types listed above to see if you enjoy certain types more than others. There's no way one graphic designer can be amazing at all. The different project types. It's impossible. That's why there's graphic design specialties such as a print designer or a logo designer. A graphic design focuses where you can specialize in one or two project types and become very proficient over time. So what's The next step now is to find a supportive design community. What good is a graphic designer without a community of fellow colleagues? Most formal four year design programs have. Class is full of fellow students to relate and connect with. What about those learning online? There's several great websites that can help you join together with other designers to provide feedback on your work and to give back to others. There's also some great Facebook, YouTube and other social media communities you could be a part of to. I happen to have a Facebook group for my students to give and receive feedback on projects , and it's very active. It's a lovely community that provides positive support and advice. Some of the other, more common places to find other designers and post your work are the following. I also suggest following some wonderful deciders in your chosen focus area. This allows you to keep up with what's trending and what's successful in the world of design. Following others, you keeps you motivated and can help you find a little design inspiration. So the next step kind of an unspoken step, but kind of important because we want to learn how to become a graphic desire some of us for fun, but some of us to make a living or to make some side income. So I've given you the framework for getting started, and perhaps you feel a little bit overwhelmed with all you need to learn. After all, you are learning new concepts, software and how to put it all together in action. But the first thing I want you to do is to relax. You've got this. Just take it one step at a time. Become a graphic designer does take a little bit of patients, but with each new endeavor, you'll gain confidence and experience through time. I would start off with a smaller little projects and work your way up to a large projects. Depending on what your design focus will be, you can slowly move your way to some paid work, and this might be testing the waters by finding a small job on a website. Called Up work are fiber dot com, or it may mean connecting with local businesses to see if they need any design work. There's also the option of applying to full time entry level positions at a company. This would require you to build and design a portfolio that contained all of your practice work you've created at this point. But that's another article on another course for another day. Once again, try not to feel overwhelmed. Once you start down that road of learned this learning journey, you'll find that graphic design is an incredibly exciting and reward a ble Korea. 4. Next Steps and Student Project: So what's next? Let's talk briefly about two things before you go first. What are the next steps? I have a course right here on spill share that walks you through each of the steps mentioned in class like learning graphic design theory, learning the software needed, as well as doing practical real world projects and many of the popular design niches. It's called the graphic design Masterclass. Learn great design, and I hope to see you there. Don't forget to join my student Facebook community to get feedback on projects and to help you get started learning this wonderful career path. If you want to discover the different design, niches are focuses in more detail. I have a class on skill share called Finding Your Design Focus, and it does just that. I want to talk about a little student project I have for you. I want you to see this worksheet that you can download or it's in the project section of the course, and there's several questions there. These questions are designed to get you thinking about your learning path to help you choose software and to find a place to learn all the required materials This will help you find a connect with the design community and to find support and encouragement. I hope you enjoy this quick dive into becoming a graphic designer. I enjoy waking up in the mornings and getting to work, and there are times in my career when this was not the case. So I hope you find something here you enjoy doing. Life is short. Let's find passion.