While they remain faceless to many people, the world as people know it wouldn’t exist without graphic designers, at least from a messaging standpoint. These professionals are responsible for creating the billboards, brochures, signs, T-Shirt and other advertising collateral that businesses and organizations use every day.
To meet this demand, graphic design students in colleges everywhere attend classes to learn the skills they need to create these pieces. They learn an abundance of skills that will help them do their future jobs. Here’s a look at some of the things that graphic design students learn during a bachelor’s degree program in graphic design.
Basic Drawing and Painting
Not all graphic design bachelor’s degree programs require their students to take classes in basic drawing and painting. However, some do, so it’s worth mentioning. While many would argue that the ability to draw isn’t central to the graphic designer’s job, others disagree. As LA ORT College points out, the ability to draw, even if it’s just sketching, gives the graphic designer another way to communicate their ideas. Many times, it’s just a rough sketch that they draw, not a completed master drawing. However, it’s enough to convey their thoughts. For this reason, some graphic design schools will require their students to learn how to draw and paint.
The purpose of graphic design is to communicate a message, and graphic designers have several tools at their disposal to do this, including color. Color that’s properly used will evoke emotions and send cultural messages, according to an article on the Independence University website.
As such, part of the curriculum in a graphic design degree program will deal with color theory. Designers will learn about warm and cool colors, the significance of different colors in cultures around the world and eventually about how color translates in print versus the web.
Typography and Layout
Typography is the lettering that a graphic designer will use in a piece of designed work, and layout is the look of the page and how it’s arranged. Typography allows the designer to convey a piece’s verbal messaging. However, it can be so much more than that for the designer who understands how to use type correctly: It becomes a decorative element in its own right.
Also, designers will learn how to choose fonts for a piece, as well as learn how many fonts are too many. Other skills a bachelor’s degree program will teach future designers is how to pair fonts, how to space them correctly and what to do to make their documents easier to read.
Most graphic design students will have to take some art history courses, including classes in the history of graphic design. These classes teach students about the history of the world, of literature, politics, chemistry and a host of other subjects through the lens of art history.
The world is becoming more visually oriented. Studying art history teaches students to read images critically, treating them as the visual language that they are. While all of the classes in a graphic design degree program are important, this one may be one of the most important for future graphic designers. These professionals will spend their careers creating images that people must draw meaning from. Art history gives them excellent preparation for this task.
User Interface Design
Given the number of digital screens that most people have these days, it’s not surprising that many graphic design programs have started to teach their students user interface design. That’s the UI in the UX/UI equation. Designers must know how to create screens that digital users find easy to navigate, whether the designer is creating a mobile app or a landing page for a website.
Related to the category above are web design and coding. Designers are being asked to design websites, and some of them are even being asked to code. Typically, they’re asked to learn CSS, HTML/XHTML and PHP. While they probably won’t be asked to use these languages to the degree that the web developer will, knowing them can only help. As demand for these skills grows, bachelor degree programs in graphic design will offer classes in these subjects to meet the demand.
To print documents properly, a graphic designer must know how to work with different kinds of printing presses and different kinds of materials. They could be asked to print their work on newsprint paper, card stock, banner material, T-Shirts, metal and other materials. Each material has its own “personality” in terms of how it responds to ink or paint. A graphic designer must learn this.
Additionally, the would-be graphic designer needs to learn about CMYK color for print documents and RGB for digital properties. While some printing presses now will take digital files (for printing) in either type of color palette, some older presses won’t.
Portfolio and Professional Practices
Most college graphic design programs have a professional portfolio and on-the-job component. Not only will the students in the program have to build a portfolio of suitable work to show potential employers, but they also must do an internship at a design studio. These elements of their programs give them the real-world experience they need to thrive as designers. They’ll learn how to work on deadlines, deal with clients and learn how to create a workflow for projects.
Graphic design students create the visual messages that the world sees on movie posters, phone interfaces, business cards and more. Due to how much technology has changed the business, modern graphic designers and the schools they attend are being asked to do more. Fortunately, many colleges and universities have risen to demand. Because of this, their students come to the workplace armed with all kinds of skills, thanks in large part to what they’ve learned in their bachelor’s programs.