You may be here wondering if you can teach yourself graphic design. Imagine, you finally got a job as a Virtual Assistant or Social Media Manager, but you have zero skills in graphic design, at all. You are creative, sure, but you don’t know how to create the designs.
Or you keep on receiving emails saying that they want to consider you to be their Virtual Assistant, but they want a multi-skilled assistant who can do both designs and manage social channels?
Who do you think will get the job?
If you want to start learning graphic design, you can definitely learn it even without going to a design school. I myself am self-taught. I have read tutorials, practiced, researched and experienced it firsthand before I came to where I am now.
Gradually, if you put effort into it, you can even earn from it by offering freelance design services.
It’s never too late to learn graphic design, here are 5 steps to help you get started.
1. Choose your Niche
The first thing you have to do to teach yourself graphic design is to identify what type of design you will focus on, or what type of graphic designer you will be. Graphic design has a wide field of specialties and while you can do them all, it is best to identify what your niche is so you can focus on learning it.
There are 2 major design niches you can choose from and then just narrow down from there.
Designs for print includes designing book and magazine covers, invitations, business cards, order forms, planners, flyers, logo, packaging, ads, T-shirts and even illustrations.
Digital designs include logo, branding, illustrations, social media templates, UI/UX Design, infographics, workbooks, ebooks, presentations and a whole lot more.
Once you’ve found your niche, it will be easier for you to focus on what to learn or even on what designs to create. It will help you figure out what you can do as a designer.
Digital Marketing is one the rise together with Social Media such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. This is why graphic designers are in such high demand lately. Business or coaches use social media to visually communicate with potential and existing customers. Since they can’t do it all, they hire Social Media Managers to work on their social channels. More often than not, one of the tasks of Social Media Managers is to create the Social Media posts.
All I’m saying is that Social Media Post design is also a great niche to focus one.
Identify what design you enjoy doing the most and start from there. Sure you can cast a wider net in the future but if you’re just starting out, picking out a niche is a nice way to go.
2. Research and Learn the Tools of the Trade
Next thing to do in your list is to identify what type of software or program you want to use.
Adobe Products such as Photoshop and Illustrator are one of the best software to learn. These products can do it all. Adobe is like the god of design; from photo manipulation to vector illustrators and even animations.
Though you have to pay for these Adobe softwares, it’s worth it. However if you want to use free programs, you can do that too.
There are tons of free web-based design tools you can use such as PicMonkey, Canva, Snappa and Crello.
Canva is a great option. I have seen tons of designers who use Canva now because it’s drag and drop, plus it’s easier for clients to edit the design if needed. It just doesn’t have the flexibility I can get from Adobe Creative Cloud but it sure is a great app to use for basic graphic design.
I personally use Photoshop and Illustrator. When I was starting, I have discovered Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I also learned to use GIMP when I was just starting to teach myself graphic design, but I prefer Photoshop to GIMP. Then, I discovered Adobe Illustrator and the great designs I can do with vectors, so I am in love with it and have been using it ever since.
Photoshop is best to use for mockups and photo manipulation while Illustrator is best for vector-based designs.
If you want to use free elements, you can definitely use Canva’s elements for your design. I am not quite sure about the copyright of the elements there but if you want to be safe, create your own illustrations using Adobe Illustrator.
If you’re a social media manager or virtual assistant, your client may have specifics on what type of software to use, then you can start from there. Learn it and discover it.
3. Learn the Basics
If you’re thinking of graphic design as putting texts on images and shapes, you’re wrong.
If you want to produce high quality graphic designs or social media templates, you have to learn how to visually communicate your ideas to your audience.
Learning the basics of graphic design is very important. Most particularly, if you really don’t have an eye for design.
You don’t have to memorize every hex code, or font families but you have to learn at least the basics of color, typography, resolution, optimization, ratio, focal points and kerning.
If some of the terms I’ve used above are unfamiliar to you, it really is time for you to learn the basics.
Make some research. Watch videos. Study. Practice.
You can also enroll in Skillshare and learn the basics from professional designers. I, myself, have learned Adobe Illustrator through Skillshare.
Now the next step to teach yourself graphic design is to put theory into action.
Even when you have learned every theory or principles in graphic design, everything is useless without practice.
Since you’ve already chosen what software to use, and have learned the basics, you can now practice creating graphics.
Look for design inspirations, and create your own. You can also try recreating logos or illustrations.
You can also try creating a fake company and create graphic designs for this company.
Practicing will help you familiarize with the tools, and your workflow. You can also show these designs to family and friends and let them critique it.
Practice and just do it.
5. Learn from Others
The last step you can do to teach yourself graphic design is to learn from others. You can join forums or communities filled with designers. There you can showcase your work and they can provide useful insights and constructive criticisms to help you be better in designing.
Related: A rebrand and a purpose
Ask people who has more experiences than you. You can even contact me if you have questions and I’ll be more than happy to give my insights.
Learn from others and don’t let it beat you if you receive comments. Use it as a stepping stone, and work on improving.
5 Easy Steps to Teach Yourself Graphic Design
There you go. 5 steps to teach yourself graphic design even when you did not go to a design school:
- Choose your niche
- Research and learn the tools of the trade
- Learn the basics
- Learn from Others
You will read a lot of content in the internet and you will see a lot of people making this beautiful designs. And you think to yourself, but I havent went to school, or I am not creative enough. Well, that makes the two of us. Don’t be intimidated. Just get started. Submit your work to your client and accept criticisms. It’s a process.
Once you start learning, you will definitely be a better graphic designer even when you never went to a design school. You can now produce high-quality graphics for your clients which will help your client’s digital and social media marketing.