Get Creative. Your guide to a career in design.

Turning a passion for design into a career can feel daunting, especially considering how competitive the job market is. But the chance to express yourself creatively with likeminded professionals is well worth exploring. Whether you’re a budding fashion designer, have a keen eye for interiors or are obsessed with 3D, read on and we’ll tell you how to get your design career going and gain an edge when it comes to a career in design.

Graphic design

Whether it’s laying out stunning pages for magazines or crafting visually arresting ads for major brands, graphic design is one of the coolest creative jobs out there. And, consequently, one of the hardest to get into. But don’t be put off, let your talent shine through.

A qualification is a must, but that doesn’t necessarily mean pursuing a three-year degree. Intensive, short team alternatives will get you up to speed and ensure you’re ready for the workplace in as little as three months in some cases. Short-term, online courses will school you in design principles and software basics.

It’s imperative you put together an online portfolio, including your own logo. It’s also worth seeking out charitable causes where you can hone your skills and build a body of work you can show to prospective employers.

With a digital portfolio and a qualification in your arsenal, the next step is to search for valuable work experience. Major design and creative agencies offer internships, but it’s also worth speaking with smaller companies to see if they’d be happy to give you valuable frontline experience and help you improve.

fashion design

Fashion design

Whether you dream of making haute couture pieces for a luxe fashion house or have a passion for sportswear, breaking into fashion design generally requires formal study before you land a job. There’s option to study on shorter, year-long courses, which teach key skills. Or, you can undertake a longer degree course with the aim of opening the door to employment.

While studying will give you a solid grounding, it’s how you project yourself and your work that will help land you a job. Internships are the most common route into full time work, even after you’ve done a degree, but to stand out make sure you supplement your course portfolio with designs and ideas relevant to the company you’re looking to work with. Major high street brands offer internships, but smaller companies also offer the chance to learn from the inside. LinkedIn lists dozens of entry-level roles.

Make sure you have a good knowledge of the market and where you see your designs being sold in the future – the business of fashion is just as important to designers as the outfits themselves. And if there’s a designer whose work you like, contact them and request a meeting. Face to face contact or even a phone call adds a personal touch that can lead to work that may not have been advertised.

Product design

Product design is as much about solving problems as it is about designing products themselves. And that means learning about materials and engineering as well as developing your creative practice. Handily, there are different routes into product design, depending on your personal preference, with apprenticeship schemes or degree courses available.

The latter can often be done in conjunction with a year in the workplace, meaning you get the chance to work with designers in close quarters, learning how they take concepts from the page and turn them into tangible products, as well as getting to grips with software and products that are used in the studio every day.

As in other parts of the creative industry, internships play a valuable part in helping to make the transition from keen student to employee. Agencies often encourage graduates to get in touch and explain why they should have a chance to intern or work with them.

To give yourself the best chance, create a simple portfolio website that shows off projects and how you’ve worked through them, from explaining the concept and early drawings to the finished article. This shows you understand the process behind product design, rather than simply showcasing a product or design once it’s done. Make sure any website has an ‘about me’ section, detailing the software and hardware you know how to use.

Conceptual design

Conceptual design

Interested in the bigger picture rather than the finer details? Then a job in conceptual design could be for you. Conceptual design is all about dreaming big and developing a design during its initial stages – the currency here is ideas, rather than simply showcasing a product.

Conceptual designers work on major advertising campaigns, apps or gadgets, creating concepts that showcase brands and products in a new and interesting light. This is advanced work, so you’ll need to stand out from the crowd – undertaking a Masters Degree in Concept Design will bolster your chances in a competitive job market. Alternatively, you can specialize within graphic or product design agencies, working closely with conceptual designers to boost your skills.

Conceptual design is very much about thinking laterally, creating something bold that people may not have ever considered before in relation to a particular brand, so be sure to create original and unique work that stands out from the pack. Make it clear to prospective employees that you understand the basics of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and have experience with the hardware, like our own, that makes the lives of concept designers easier.

Illustration

Illustration offers amazing opportunities for creative expression, with the chance to draw in your own style for magazines, websites, books and commercial clients. Naturally, it requires a lot of hustle, with no one set route into an industry that’s well known for being difficult to break into, especially as many illustrators are self–employed.

While it’s possible to study for a degree in illustration, if you’ve got a passion for drawing and a fine eye for detail, it’s possible to create your own presence and secure commissions. First, make sure your social media, especially Instagram, showcase your best work – have a separate account for personal images to ensure clients can see your work without having to trawl through selfies and holiday snaps. Social media is also a great way to connect with other illustrators, too – start interacting and it could lead to your first commission.

Build a portfolio website, making sure you have a good domain name and a professional email address rather than a generic account. Get to grips with digital illustration tools, as well as drawing with pen and paper. And when you feel confident, contact publishers and creative agencies whose work you like, asking for a meeting. Many freelance illustrators have an agent to help them secure work.

3D design

3D modelling is one of the fastest evolving and most fascinating aspects of design. Carving out a career in this space requires spending time learning highly specialized skills, something that can be done on undergraduate and postgraduate 3D Modelling degree courses at art schools and universities. However, intensive online courses can get you up to speed quickly too. Practice using open source tools and dedicated hardware such as trackpads and styluses on a powerful desktop computer will also help you improve faster.

Once you have mastered your tools, there are a myriad of career options once – you can pursue work on 3D films, create models for scientific research or develop futuristic creations for games. Those working in the industry advise taking a broad approach, rather than specializing, especially if you plan to work as a freelancer. This will give you more options when it comes to securing work.

Job listings can be found via a quick web search. Alternatively, many creative agencies tend to have specialist 3D teams – make sure you have a professional quality website to showcase your models. Without one, prospective employers won’t be able to see your creations and will likely look elsewhere.

Interior design

Interior design is so much more than decorating – this broad–based discipline can take in everything from creating corporate work spaces to designing spaces for clients with specific mobility needs.

A degree in interior design is a must for those who want to work for an agency, as is developing drawing skills, especially on desktop computers and tablets. Becoming proficient in computer–aided design (CAD) is also key. Any course will ensure you learn about how space is experienced by groups and individuals, as well as helping you work on your own aesthetic and identity.

Internships are a sure-fire way to gain experience quickly. Online listings are readily available, while big name agencies often advertise – be sure to have your online portfolio in good shape and bring physical drawings to any interview.

Freelancing is also a key route into interior design, although it pays to have had some in–house experience before striking out on your own. Projects for charities are a good way to bolster your portfolio, although as with all pro bono work, it pays to set out strict terms before you start work, ensuring you don’t spend too much time working for free.

Design with confidence. Get started with Wacom Intuos Pro.

No matter what kind of a design career you’d like to pursue, Wacom Intuos Pro can help your work stand out from the crowd. Combined with the super-sensitive Wacom Pro Pen 2, this sleek drawing tablet looks and feels amazing. Bring your imagination to life, with more natural creative control than ever before. Wacom Intuos Pro has everything you need for design that demands attention.

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