You Won’t Learn this in School


Jess Meoni: What does it take to become a professional graphic designer? Technical skills? Creativity? Elbow grease? Some may argue that an “eye for design” is the skeleton key to all graphical solutions. Others may suggest at both a developing and  experienced level, the thirst for self-improvement is the most important asset to have. In my personal line of work, I found that becoming an artist is an ever-evolving prophecy. When I was younger, it was a career I could envision myself working toward in my adult life. I had an early interest, a definite intent to acquire new techniques, and most of all, the willingness to be cast into an onslaught of fear.

Yes, fear. In today’s world, entering college is the flip of a coin for many prospective students. This divided destiny can rely on a number of influences – anything from your parents’ approval (and let’s be honest, justifying stability as an art major can be a challenging argument to win) to investment in a bottomless abyss of debt can take a toll on your ultimate decision. Depending on your specific objectives and practices, college may be the most practical way to understand the necessary skills to become a graphic designer. From foundational drawing to website development, a traditional education can provide the building blocks needed to transition from concept to execution.

As an art student, this path takes unwavering dedication, character strength, and a resilient backbone for the critical analysis of your work. During my time as a student at Marywood University, a certain fear of judgment imbedded itself into every color choice, every stroke weight, every inch of white space. The truth of the matter is, this criticism does not diffuse once you walk the stage with diploma in hand – actually, quite the opposite. It becomes a vital part of your growth as a designer.

From my professional experience, learning how to communicate both visually and verbally with a client or networking with a potential employer serves as the greatest tool you can acquire. I should warn you though, while this idea is cultivated in college, this is a skill best practiced outside the classroom, where the fear becomes as real as your power to overcome it.

Featured image: Original black and white photograph entitled “Marissa”

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