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Jumpstart Your Career Right Out of Art School

Jumpstart Your Career Right Out of Art School

Elisha-Rio Apilado

Your strengths and weaknesses? Now number them from most favorite to most hated. Those #1, 2, and 3 should stick in your head. What is the point of this little exercise Elisha? Well, you’ve just figured out who you are as an artist and what you have to offer to these future employers you’re trying to impress. Doing this helps you to figure out what part of the graphic design industry you should gear your career.

For me, I love illustrating, making logos, and creating conceptual advertisements with the back scene of sketching a million thumbnails during the creative process. I despise anything 3D, so package design is out for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be open minded. I may have despised that package design class I took, but that is NOT the real world. The part of the industry I’ve decided to gear towards is the advertising world with a side of illustration. There’s something about how an idea can start so little, and evolve into something so big. Something completely twisted and turned around from the original idea.

There are so many opportunities out there after graduation, you just have to look around and be patient. BE PATIENT. Engrave that into your brain. Yes, you’re a great art-teest and there’s nothing wrong with having pride in yourself, but don’t expect a million design firms to come flying at you with a million job offers and begging you to work for them. It doesn’t work that way. It never really has. You’ve got to chase after those dreams yourself.

So here’s my advice to you about nabbing that dream creative job of yours. Start little. Yes, start little. I know usually people say ‘Go big or go home,’ but I see starting little and growing into something big is still equivalent to that saying.

You’ve already figured yourself out as a graphic designer and what you can give to employers, and maybe you’ve figured out what you can improve on and what you want to learn about more (I’d definitely like to give package design another chance) —Now’s the time to do research.

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Research design firms, ad agencies, etc. revolving around the parts of graphic design you’re truly interested. Really pay attention to their website (and web design). You can really understand what their style is. Look at their previous work and who is on their client list. Read the biographies of the big shots of the company. Take in as much information you can. Be a sponge. Google can be helpful too on stalking, er, researching this company to understand them more. See what their mission is and compare that with yours as an artist. Can you contribute anything to their company? Could you learn anything from them? Believe me, doing all this research will help you out in the long run. You have to become their new best friend and learn anything there is about them. This will help out in writing your cover letter and even in an interview opportunity. Employers will only be interested in you if you’re GENUINELY interested in them.

Now other than trying to find that job, what do you do during the time you’re being PATIENT and waiting for any callbacks? CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Do more for yourself as an artist. Keep growing. Get in touch with non-profit organizations that you care about and are familiar with and see if you can do any design work for them. Voluntarily. There’s nothing wrong with volunteering your art skills. I mean, we artists are here to change the world right? Art CAN change the world and an outlook on life. I truly believe in that. With volunteer work, you get to experience working with a client, even if you’re not being paid. You get to challenge yourself as an artist and see just how tough you are and just how good you are with deadlines. You also get to help out the community. Your artwork will also gain exposure and earn you some networking brownie points. If you do a good job, these people will refer you to others, I’m sure of it. It’s all about networking. Networking is key. You just have to start doing the talking.

Other than doing work for others and trying to find a job that is to your liking, keep doing art just for yourself. I have to admit, the past three years while I was in school working on my degree, I didn’t have time to pick up a paint brush and sweep paint across that canvas board. So do yourself a favor, stay sane and do art for yourself. Even if you’re a graphic designer, close the Macbook. Hide the mouse and drawing tablet. Pick up a pencil and just draw. Even look at other artists’ works. It can be truly inspiring. Just remember, keep being a sponge.

Here are a couple websites I visit religiously to look at other designs/graphics/artwork. I even have a folder on my computer full of creatives. It can definitely keep your creative juices running. They may be random stuff posted, but bizarre randomness definitely sparks up the light bulb:

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