In the digital era, graphic designers are called upon to work their magic in both print and web environments. From logo design to signage and web graphics, businesses will never run out of work for graphic designers. Graphic design majors have multiple career routes to pursue after graduation, including marketing, advertising, publishing, and printing roles.
Professional Graphic Design Organizations
While there isn’t a national honors society dedicated to college students enrolled in graphic design programs, there are still several professional societies that provide academic funding opportunities and other benefits.
- American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) – AIGA has gained an impressive membership – 23,000 members across 67 chapters as of 2014. This professional society was established in 1917, springing up to advocate for graphic designers’ rights and advancement in professional spheres. This organization hosts several juried design competitions, including 50 Books/ 50 Covers and the Design Effectiveness Competition. Students can apply for the Worldstudio AIGA Scholarship, which provides undergraduate and graduate winners with up to $3,000 in funding.
- The International Council of Graphic Design Associations (ICOGRADA) – ICOGRADA began in 1963, providing a network for global designers to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Members are divided into seven different categories for the best networking potential; groups include education, corporate, professionals, and promotional members. ICOGRADA’s database of documents is open to public viewing, including design policies, best practice guides, intellectual property information, regional statistics, and case studies.
- Graphic Artists Guild – This professional guild is based in New York City. It serves as a rallying point for graphic artists, animators, cartoonists, and web designers. There are six regional chapters based in major cities such as Chicago, Seattle, and Boston. Members gain access to exclusive publications, webinars, insurance options, and referrals. You can take a look at what guild members are currently working on by checking out the official Graphic Artist Guild portfolio online.
- The Design Management Institute – This nonprofit organization caters to a global audience of design industry professionals. They are dedicated to career training, networking, and the advancement of design business practices. Members can join at the student, professional, or faculty levels to gain perks such as referral listings, a job bank, research library access, and event discounts.
Open Graphic Design Courseware
The digital era has marked a great period of educational growth for design students and professionals. Due to the visual nature of this field, websites can display a wealth of content, such as high-resolution graphics and videos to supplement open courses on design. Keep in mind that the following classes do not provide students with college credits or professional credentials.
- Design and Designing – The Open University uploaded this course to iTunes University, which can be accessed via any computer with iTunes and Apple mobile devices. A variety of design topics are discussed in these audio and video clips, including product design, illustration, three dimensional models, and marketing communication.
- Art of Color – This MIT OpenCourseWare offering, led by Dr. Peter Dourmashkin in spring 2005, is a perfect introduction to color theory for undergraduate students. You will explore color blending, the psychology of color in visual arts, and the meanings of color in historical creative works.
- User Interface Design and Implementation – Professor Robert Miller leads this multidisciplinary course for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This class will challenge the way you think about your interactions with computers, based on the graphical user interfaces we experience on screen. Professor Miller delves into UI prototyping, design elements of software, and user perceptions during technology interactions.
- Digital Typography – This is a graduate level course that delves into the meaning, foundational theory, and creation of digital typefaces and fonts. Professor John Maeda demonstrates how to use Java programs to control type. The lessons and assignments revolve around readings from The Elements of Typographic Style, by Robert Bringhurst.
Open Access Graphic Design Journals
The following journals cater to readers who wish to explore the theoretical, academic, and technical aspects of design. Several prominent colleges have released their own periodicals, including Oxford University and the University of Nova Scotia.
- International Journal of Design – This global design journal was founded in 2007, showcasing reviews, articles, and design case studies that are relevant to design practice, advancement, and research. Past volumes and issues are available online in HTML and PDF format.
- Journal of Design History – This periodical is edited, managed, and published by Oxford University. It contains a general collection of design history articles and visual art analysis. The first volume was released in 1988, and new issues are released on a quarterly basis.
- Journal of Graphic Engineering and Design – The JGED was established in 2010 by the University of Nova Scotia’s Department of Graphic Engineering and Design. This publication welcomes submissions about visual art theory, typography, and design communication. This periodical is 100% free, with no submission or access fees. New volumes are released annually.
- Oxford Art Journal – This is the premier journal for displaying and analyzing historical and modern visual art. Authors are encouraged to submit scholarly articles between 8,000 and 9,000 words with an abstract that does not exceed 200 words. The OAJ was first released in 1978, with new issues appearing on a quarterly basis.
Graphic Design Books
Get advice from experts by investing in the following recommended texts for graphic design students and professionals. Several of these volumes delve into the marketing considerations that designers make as they work with their clients. These books cover fundamental graphic design concepts, such as typography, color, spacing, and image use.
- Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students – Typography can convey volumes about brand identity, content, and emotion. Ellen Lupton’s guide to the use of typefaces and fonts in design is considered a must-read in many graphic design circles. She walks students through the technical aspects of font kerning, tracking, and alignment, while also keeping an eye on big picture design elements like the grid and tables.
- The Elements of Graphic Design – Alex White’s textbook introduces design students to fundamental concepts, such as blank space, design unity, typography, and page elements. The revised editions address graphic design for the web, illustrating key concepts with full color images.
- Package Design Workbook – Great package design compels us to make a purchase while hiding under the radar of our awareness. Just like we gravitate toward books with attractive covers, we are also drawn toward product packaging. Authors John Silva and Steven DuPuis explore the role of package design in business and marketing strategies. Students will learn how to convey a unifying brand vision through packaging materials. The authors also use case studies from successful projects in the past to emphasize key points.
- Design Basics Index – Author Jim Krause has a lot of design experience under his belt. He has worked as a designer for corporations like Microsoft, Seattle Public Schools, Levi Strauss, and Cingular Wireless. He shares his experiences and professional wisdom with aspiring designers in this encyclopedia-like reference volume, covering color theory, typography, theme, image placement, and concept. This book can help designers with any assignment they find themselves working on, whether it’s a product logo, brochure, or website.
- Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities – Graphic designers are frequently called upon to design business logos. These images should encapsulate a brand’s culture and identity. However, this isn’t an easy task, which is where author David Airey steps in. He walks readers through the process of logo creation, from creating design briefs, maintaining identity focus, the issues with focus groups, and logo design pricing rubrics.
Online Graphic Design Magazines
The digital magazine format lends itself beautifully to displaying graphic design projects. These publications make great reads during academic and professional downtime, keeping you up-to-date with industry news and tech developments.
- Smashing Magazine – This digital magazine caters to web-based designers, exploring the intersections of coding with typography and web design. Whether you are pursuing print or web design, Smashing Magazine can provide you with ample inspiration. Content is organized in several categories and subsections such as graphics, user interface design, business, and typography. Contributors aren’t shy with graphics; part of the appeal is how image-heavy these articles are.
- Destructed – The founders of Destructed sought to pull away from the business concerns of design work, creating a playground where contributors can openly express themselves creatively, free of formal boundaries. This publication won the Lead Academy Awards distinction of “Independent Online Magazine of the Year” in 2005. Destructed issues can be downloaded for free in PDF format.
- Root – This digital magazine was founded 2004, showcasing unique contemporary design, photos, videos, and music. New issues are released twice a year. Since each issue contains multimedia projects, issues can be downloaded in Mac or Windows-specific compressed file formats.
- Veer – This stock image and font company serves the professional graphic designer community with creative resources and publications. The Veer Ideas Catalog is a compilation of quirky themes, typefaces, photographs, and activities to get your creative juices flowing.
Graphic Design Blogs
Recharge your creative batteries by browsing these inspiring design blogs. You get to see unique and creative samples of logo design, product development, and web graphics displayed on these websites. Stay on top of visual trends by adding these blogs to your reading list.
- Creative Bloq – This is a slick, attention-grabbing ode to traditional graphic design, web design, and 3D modeling. Creative Bloq is distributed by Future, an international media network. This blog features op-ed reviews of visual art, interviews with industry leaders, and feature articles on graphic design projects.
- Swissmiss – This is the blog of Tina Roth Eisenberg, a professional graphic designer based in New York City. Her blog features unique product designs, software graphics, national design conferences, and industry developments. It is an informal collection of her favorite visual art pieces and multimedia.
- You The Designer – This is a comprehensive blog dedicated to the lifestyle of being a graphic designer. Readers can skim through infographics and tutorials on software like AutoDesk, InDesign, and Photoshop. This is also a great stop for professionals and students that need to refill their well of inspiration.
- I Love Typography – Fonts and typefaces are critical to graphic design. So it’s no wonder that graphic designer John Boardley has created an entire blog to pay homage to typography. He walks readers through how to identify and choose the right type for a project. Dive into typography theory with this thought-provoking blog.
Every industry has its leaders and heroes. These graphic design studios and individuals tweet bite-sized advice, news, and links to noteworthy projects. Don’t be shy – add some of these top influencers on Twitter and interact with them!
Who to Follow on Twitter
- @happycog – This design studio was founded by Jeffrey Zeldman, a blog pioneer, web design expert, and founder of A List Apart. Happy Cog is based in Austin, New York, and Philadelphia. Students and professional graphic designers can keep an eye out on their Twitter feed for industry news, stunning graphic design project links, and behind-the-scenes looks into their light-hearted company culture.
- @mayhemstudios – You might recognize Calvin Lee from his design and marketing articles on The Huffington Post, Forbes, Wired, and Mashable. He regularly communicates with fans and followers via Twitter, posting current industry news and commentary regarding visual arts.
- @graciesmith – Gracie Smith is a leading graphic designer based in Ireland. She is an active Mashable contributor, weighing in on new web design technologies, application user interfaces, and industry developments.
- @clagnut – Richard Rutter is a highly-regarded typography and UI design expert. As the founder of Clearleft and Fontdeck, he’s got an eye for new web trends, browser compatibility, and mobile application news.