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Choosing Your Graphic Design Specialty

Choosing Your Graphic Design Specialty

Elisha-Rio Apilado

“Do you like to kern or would you rather vector?”

Looking back, it’s a little weird how you start your first years of art school not knowing what you want to major in (That’s true for most of us, anyway). And when you finally choose, it feels like there are so many other big decisions to be made after. Like: What kind of art (studio drawing, studio painting, architecture, fashion design, graphic design,etc.), and your specialty within your chosen industry. Exciting, right?

What’s a specialty?

A specialty is something that, as a graphic designer for example, you’re either very interested in, or very good at. Looking back to art school, choosing your specialty is exactly the reason why you’re educated in and exposed to many different kinds of graphic design — no, it wasn’t just to confuse you!

Graphic design in particular can be interpreted in many different ways in the real world. It’s beneficial to immerse yourself in each category and subdivision of the graphic design industry. Not only will this give you great experience, but it will teach you a lot about the variety of techniques and design needs you’ll need for each particular industry (i.e. publication is more about textural design and information graphics necessitates top notch illustration skills). You must learn what software best suits each industry (i.e. InDesign is a perfect match for collateral designs, such as, brochures and newsletters), and what you’re most interested in.

Determining your specialty as a graphic designer straight out of art school is tough, and it shouldn’t be easily or quickly determined. It takes a lot of thought and analyzing. You must determine your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a designer. Ask yourself where your comfort zones lie — Are you at ease using the pen tool in Illustrator, or are you a pro at seeing what needs to be edited in a Photoshop image?

Figuring out your specialties and greatest strengths as a designer can help you find the keywords necessary to target the right audience when job searching. According to the design industry you want to be involved in, start researching companies you want to work with. It helps you narrow down your job searches and also keeps your portfolio focused your on specialty.

For example, I’m interested in the advertising industry, so I included a lot of samples of PSAs, magazine advertisements and conceptual ads to illustrate how much I understand the industry. Showing what you understand about the industry in your portfolio will definitely earn you some brownie points in the interview.

I know we’re all designers at heart and share some similar design habits, but there are many different realms of graphic design. The following is a profile list of the “species” of graphic designers that include characteristics they may have according to their industry. I hope that this may give you some perspective and the ability to more easily determine your specialty based on your personality and design traits.

Click here to learn the graphic design specialty that suits you best!

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