How To Become A Self‑Taught Graphic Designer (2022) (2023)

So you want to become a professional graphic designer? Whether you’re looking tomake a career change, or wondering whether graphic design is for you, we’re here to offer some guidance.

The good news is this: Your path is no longer only directed towards going to school, or investing in a formal education. To land a graphic design job in 2022, you need to cultivate the fundamentals—develop some experience, understand how to work with clients, and be willing to put yourself out there.

As long as you’re passionate about design, connecting with people, and ready to put in the time and effort, you’ll find that graphic design is certainly a career path worth pursuing. Follow the steps below to find out how you can become a self-taught graphic designer in 2022.

How To Become A Self‑Taught Graphic Designer (2022) (1)

Art by Olga

Step 1: Learn the fundamentals

While you don’t need a formal education to become a graphic designer, you do need to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals. This means getting yourself primed on the principles of design, learning how to effectively use elements like color, contrast, hierarchy, balance, and proportion in your work.

Even more good news, as there’s plenty offree graphic design coursesonline you can use to start building your knowledge base. Dabble in a few different courses and refer back to them whenever necessary.

If there’s a specific graphic design niche you’re interested in (i.e. brand identity design, social media marketing, website design, etc.), it doesn’t hurt to find resources specific to the kind of design work you want to specialize in, too.

On top of getting primed on the basics, it’s also good practice to start developing your visual eye for design. Taking time tobrowse through Dribbbleeach day is a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest design trends—as well as explore the various design styles that keep you fired up. Plus, you’ll also gather plenty of visual inspiration and ideas for your own open projects while you’re at it.

Step 2: Invest in the right tools

If you want to become a graphic designer, you’ll also need to become proficient in the graphic design software you’ll use to create your work. If you’re just starting out, consider downloading a few free graphic design softwares before investing in more robust tools. Free graphic design tools likeVecteezy,CorelDraw, orInkscapeare great options to explore among many others.

Once you’re ready to take your technical skills to the next level, we recommend investing time in mastering industry stalwarts likeAdobe IllustratorandAdobe Photoshop. These are the most widely used tools across the industry—and are incredibly powerful.

Another viable tool to invest in at this stage isBonsai. As a graphic designer, you’re probably going to work as a freelancer and Bonsai can help you—from managing projects, creating proposals and contracts for clients, to sending invoices and organizing your taxes. Using this early on will benefit you immensely down the road.

Learning how to use a new software can be intimidating, but don’t let that discourage you! There are plenty of free online resources to help you master all sorts of design tools, and it’s as easy as searching Google to find quality materials.

How To Become A Self‑Taught Graphic Designer (2022) (3)

Art by Seonhwa Kim

Step 3: Build a body of work

You can’t become a professional graphic designer without building a persuasive body of work first—clients and employerswillask for work samples before deciding to hire you.

You might be wondering:how can I build a body of work without any real-world experience?As a budding graphic designer, you’ll be glad to know there are plenty of options open to you. From creating your own self-initiated projects, to offering up your design services to family and friends, start putting your graphic design skills into practice and refining your design process.

"Start accumulating a body of work that directly reflects the graphic design jobs you ideally want to be hired for."

If you’re having difficulty coming up with ideas, get inspired by something that already exists and put your own spin on it. Redesign your favorite logo, a website, or create marketing materials for a brand you think needs some help—the possibilities are endless. But also be strategic: work on accumulating a body of work that directly reflects the graphic design jobs you ideally want to take on.

It’s also worth mentioning that you might not create anything you like right off the bat. Don’t let that discourage you. Some of the best designers today started out the very same way. Keep at it, hold fast, and eventually you’lldevelop your own design stylewhile uncovering your unique creative process.

“To be honest, at first I was making loads and loads of bad work. I kept putting together collections of work until the feedback finally became positive. This taught me more than I think any art program could have. Sure there was a lot of self-doubt, frustration, and uncertainty—but these lows were just part of following a passion.” —

How To Become A Self‑Taught Graphic Designer (2022) (4)

Step 4: Get your work seen

Once you’ve built up a body of work you’re proud of, it’s time to create an online graphic design portfolio to showcase the fruits of all that hard work, and to let the world know you’re available. And, hey! Our very ownDribbble Prois the simplest and most effective instant portfolio building tool that ensures your work gets discovered.

Unlike a traditional design portfolio, when you share your work on Dribbble, your work gets seen and is discoverable by millions of people each and every month. Hiring managers and design recruiters often scout Dribbble when looking to bring on new design talent, and they can contact you directly from your Dribbble Pro account. Be sure to update your work availability by toggling the briefcase icon in Dribbble’s main navigation when you’re logged in!

“A lot of companies and agencies scout for talent on Dribbble and a ton of the work requests I get will begin with saying they’ve found me on Dribbble.” Jonas Mosesson, Motion Designer

There’s no single formula for cooking up a perfect design portfolio, and there’s no way to guarantee you’ll be offered every freelance or full-time job opportunity you apply to. That said, like any other design project, improving your design portfolio is an iterative process—it gets better the more you practice and hone your skills, so keep updating your portfolio as you create new work!

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Art by Ryan Johnson

Step 5: Network with other graphic designers

The work doesn’t stop at your design portfolio. Professional graphic designers should never underestimate the power of networking and community building. Building connections amongst your graphic design peers is invaluable for improving your skills, engaging in valuable conversations with industry experts, and getting new opportunities through referrals and partnerships.

Again, Dribbble is a great place to make these connections and to gather valuable feedback on your design work. Remember that feedback is an invaluable aspect of growing as a designer—embrace any and all negative design feedbackand use it to propel your skills forward. In fact, learn to seek out feedback and you’ll be surprised at how fast your skills start to improve.

How To Become A Self‑Taught Graphic Designer (2022) (6)

Art by Maya Ealey

Step 6: Get real-world work experience

At this point in your journey to becoming a graphic designer, it’s time to get some real-world experience under your belt. Depending on your skill level, you might want to start by searching for entry-level graphic design jobs and internships.

Start by sifting through job openings online or look for one-off freelance design jobs. If you’ve got your eye on a company you really want to work for, it never hurts to reach out and express interest, even if they’re not currently hiring. You never know what future opportunities it could bring you down the line!

The job hunt is also the perfect opportunity for you to practice all of the necessarysoft skills graphic designers need to succeed, like client communication, interview best practices, and effectively selling your designs.

Check out our guide to writing a job-ready graphic design resume and cover letter for more helpful resources on getting hired!

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Art by Ricardo Santos

Keep learning and growing

Now that you know the steps needed to become a self-taught graphic designer, get out there and put in the work! Just remember, design is an ever-evolving industry. Keep learning, stay up to speed on new tools and processes, and continue building connections with your graphic design peers. You’ve got this!


How To Become A Self‑Taught Graphic Designer (2022)? ›

There are certainly exceptional self-taught graphic designers who have launched careers without a formal education. While it's true that it can be done, that doesn't mean it's the best route for you.

Can you self teach yourself graphic design? ›

There are certainly exceptional self-taught graphic designers who have launched careers without a formal education. While it's true that it can be done, that doesn't mean it's the best route for you.

Is it worth learning graphic design in 2022? ›

Absolutely. In fact, the opportunity to work with, be inspired by and just be around a whole bunch of fellow creatives for a considerable amount of time is one of the biggest benefits of a graphic design degree. You're guaranteed to make friends for life—especially when deadlines are looming.

Is graphic design in demand 2022? ›

Job Outlook

Employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2021 to 2031, slower than the average for all occupations. Despite limited employment growth, about 24,800 openings for graphic designers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

How do I become a freelance graphic designer in 2022? ›

How Do I Become a Freelance Graphic Designer?
  1. Learn and practice graphic design. ...
  2. Brand and market yourself. ...
  3. Find clients. ...
  4. Overdeliver on your first projects. ...
  5. Learn the business of design. ...
  6. Accept most incoming work. ...
  7. Build your network. ...
  8. Ask for referrals.

How do I break into graphic design without a degree? ›

How to Become a Graphic Designer Without a Degree
  1. Learn Design Theory and the Fundamentals. ...
  2. Read Graphic Design Books. ...
  3. Refine and Develop your Graphic Design Skills. ...
  4. Master Graphic Design Tools. ...
  5. Take an Online Graphic Design Course. ...
  6. Take an In Person Graphic Design Course. ...
  7. Create Your Own Graphic Design Portfolio.
Dec 19, 2022

How do I become a graphic designer with no experience? ›

How to Become a Graphic Designer with No Experience
  1. Understand the Role of a Graphic Designer. ...
  2. Learn the Fundamentals of Graphic Design. ...
  3. Consider Taking a Course. ...
  4. Learn Graphic Design Software and Programs. ...
  5. Network with Other Graphic Designers. ...
  6. Start Practicing with Simple Projects. ...
  7. Build Your Graphic Design Portfolio.
2 days ago

Why I quit graphic design? ›

There are a lot of reasons why you might not be interested in continuing your career as a graphic designer. Maybe you're sick of the clients, terrible management, working with unrealistic deadlines, the creative demand, or maybe it's all of that rolled together.

What type of graphic design is most in demand? ›

Motion graphics designers are most in-demand at AI companies, the entertainment industry, startups, marketing firms, and creative agencies, digital journalism organizations, e-commerce platforms, and the automotive industry. Many motion graphics designer opportunities can be found through agencies.

Is graphic design a stressful job? ›

Graphic design is no more stressful than any other field,” says graphic designer Ryan Mungia. “A lot of the stress depends on what kind of job you have and who you are doing it for.” That said, there are a few common sources of stress for graphic designers: Keeping up with deadlines.

What type of designers make the most money? ›

  • Creative Director Salary: $134,582 per year.
  • Furniture Designer Salary: $61,352 per year.
  • User Experience Designer Salary: $92,666 per year.
  • Architect Salary: $86,514 per year.
  • Advertising Designer Salary: $67,100 per year.
  • Fashion Designer Salary: $60,918 per year.
Mar 6, 2023

What qualifications do I need to be a graphic designer? ›

You'll need:
  • design skills and knowledge.
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
  • knowledge of media production and communication.
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software.
  • knowledge of the fine arts.
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things.
  • excellent verbal communication skills.

Are 90% of graphic designers freelancers? ›

90% of graphic designers work freelance. 54% of graphic designers leave/change jobs in under 2 years, on average. Fortune 500 companies account for over 17% of graphic design employment. Demand for graphic design professionals is predicted to grow by 3% by 2031.

Can I become a graphic designer in 2 months? ›

Yes, you can grasp the basics of graphic design in 2 months, but it takes several years to master it. In fact, you'll learn that even decades later you can keep improving your skills. This is the main reason senior graphic designers are paid more than interns.

How to become a graphic designer in 3 months? ›

How Can I Learn Graphic Design?
  1. Graphic Design Classes. There are numerous ways to learn graphic design, but one of the most popular methods is to take classes. ...
  2. Bootcamp Courses. Bootcamp courses are another great way to learn graphic design quickly. ...
  3. Independent Study. ...
  4. Adobe Photoshop. ...
  5. Adobe Illustrator. ...
  6. Adobe InDesign.
May 27, 2022

Can I be a graphic designer if I can't draw? ›

Graphic Designers do not need to draw but instead need to create appealing designs using assets such as images, typography, illustrations. In contrast, an Illustrator will focus on drawing to communicate a message.

Is it too late to pursue graphic design? ›

If you decide to get a college education in graphic design later, that's also a viable option. It's never too late to go back to school! However, your level of education in this field should never stop you from building a career in graphic design.

How long does it take to learn graphic design? ›

The time it takes to become a Graphic Designer can vary depending on the person's education and experience. A typical university program can take four years, while a graphic design course or UX design bootcamp can range between a few weeks to a few months.

What can a beginner graphic designer do? ›

Graphic design offers plenty of career options

Another perk of learning graphic design for beginners is that it's applicable to just about every industry. Graphic designers can assist with a variety of services, including business promotion, software, trade shows, and product packaging, to name a few.

Can you live off of graphic design? ›

Yes, many graphic designers are able to make a living from their careers. However, income can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and industry.

How do I know if graphic design is for me? ›

If you dream of spending your days doing something active at work, graphic design might not be the right career for you. Design is inherently a desk-based job. If you enjoy spending your days in front of a computer being creative and collaborating with others, then design is a great fit.

Why is it so hard to get a graphic design job? ›

The reason might be the type of services you're offering. The graphic design field has grown significantly, and many job posts are now looking for UX, UI, or product designers (instead of a general one). The demand for specialized designers is very high, so choosing a direction might help you in the future.

What makes the most money in graphic design? ›

What is the Highest Paid Job in Graphic Design? According to Indeed, the 5 highest-paid graphic design jobs are Product Designer, User Experience Director, Front End Developer, Creative Director and Digital Designer.

Where do graphic designers make the most money? ›

For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures indicates graphic designers who work in advertising, public relations, and related services earn a slightly higher median annual salary ($55,800) than those in other common industries.

What program do graphic designers use the most? ›

Adobe Photoshop is arguably the most popular graphic design software and is used by millions of artists around the world.

What are the cons of being a graphic designer? ›

Cons of being a graphic designer
  • Mostly behind a computer. Graphic designers spend most of their days behind a computer. ...
  • Limited promotion opportunities. As a graphic designer, there are limited opportunities to progress your career. ...
  • Often work alone. ...
  • Deadlines. ...
  • Must meet client specifications.
Nov 28, 2022

Is a graphic design degree worth it or worthless? ›

The data revealed that 88 percent of employers prefer candidates to have a graphic design associate's degree or higher. So whether you earn an associate or bachelor's degree in design, having this formal education under your belt qualifies you to apply for nearly 10 times as many jobs as an individual with no degree.

What are the 7 rule of graphic design? ›

The fundamental principles of design are: Emphasis, Balance and Alignment, Contrast, Repetition, Proportion, Movement and White Space.

What are the 4 rules of graphic design? ›

The four graphic design principles are contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity (C.R.A.P.).

What are the 12 rules of graphic design? ›

There are twelve basic principles of design: contrast, balance, emphasis, proportion, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, pattern, white space, movement, variety, and unity. These visual and graphic design principles work together to create appealing and functional designs that make sense to users.

Can I be a millionaire by graphic design? ›

Yes, you can.

What is the highest paid freelance graphic designer? ›

Highest salary that a Freelance Graphic Designer can earn is ₹9.7 Lakhs per year (₹80.8k per month). How does Freelance Graphic Designer Salary in India change with experience? An Entry Level Freelance Graphic Designer with less than three years of experience earns an average salary of ₹2.7 Lakhs per year.

Does graphic design require coding? ›

Do I Need to Code to be a Graphic Designer? The short answer to this question is no. Many artists pursue graphic design without a background in coding. As with any field, there are multiple layers to graphic design and multiple subsections within the field.

Are graphic design certificates worth it? ›

Gaining a certificate in graphic design can be really beneficial to your career as it is the only way to show that you are a fully fledged designer—and provides official documentation that you have the skills to start your career in the design world, usually as a junior designer in a design studio or agency.

What kind of math is needed for graphic design? ›

A good number of graphic design courses include maths skills. This are needed in order to earn a degree. Algebra, calculus, and geometry are general. Students also require industry figures as well.

Is education required for graphic designer? ›

How much should I be charging as a freelance graphic designer? ›

How much should freelance graphic designers charge? Freelance graphic designers could charge between $15-$300 per hour depending on their level of experience and area of expertise. Many designers will even opt for a project-based flat fee that is based on their target hourly rate.

How do I price myself as a freelance graphic designer? ›

Hourly rates: $25 - 150 per hour

Typically, more experienced graphic designers will charge between $65 to $150 per hour. In contrast, more entry-level freelance design rates range from $25 to $50 per hour.

How to start freelancing with no experience graphic design? ›

The ultimate checklist to starting your freelance graphic design...
  1. Define your business. ...
  2. Consult with experts. ...
  3. Figure out your finances. ...
  4. Set clear goals. ...
  5. Build your online presence. ...
  6. Set Up Basic Systems. ...
  7. 10 best freelance graphic design websites to find work. ...
  8. 5 types of personal logos to brand your design business.

Is 30 too old to become a graphic designer? ›

In short, yes. If you don't have the skills or knowledge you need for your creative career change at 30 an online course, like Shillington's graphic design course, is the best way to learn. Most online courses are part-time, so you'll be able to learn without a break in your career and keep earning.

How can I work as a graphic designer from home? ›

How to become a graphic designer at home
  1. Study the fundamentals. ...
  2. Get Everything You Need. ...
  3. Learn the software. ...
  4. Set up your home studio. ...
  5. Keep yourself organised. ...
  6. Create a portfolio. ...
  7. Take a course.
Mar 21, 2022

How long does it take to learn graphic design at home? ›

Students looking to become comfortable experimenting with the tools can learn graphic design in only a few weeks. Students looking to master the tools for professional use may take months or even years to become comfortable with them.

Is 40 too old to become a graphic designer? ›

Is it ever too late to become a graphic designer? No, it is never too late to start a career as a graphic designer. There are several ways to develop the skills and knowledge for this role, and these are open to people of all ages.

What age do most graphic designers start? ›

Graphic Designer Age
Graphic Designer YearsPercentages
40+ years42%
30-40 years35%
20-30 years24%
Sep 9, 2022

How many hours does it take for a graphic designer to create a logo? ›

A logo can take anywhere from a few minutes or several days to a few weeks for conceptualization and refinement; but realistically the process should take no more than a month to complete.

How long does it take to self teach graphic design? ›

Students looking to become comfortable experimenting with the tools can learn graphic design in only a few weeks. Students looking to master the tools for professional use may take months or even years to become comfortable with them.

Can I learn graphic design on my own online? ›

There are lots of online graphic design courses that can help you hone your design talents, offered by universities, graphic design experts, and online course hubs like Udemy.

How can I practice graphic design at home? ›

How To Practise Graphic Design Skills
  1. Assess your current skills. Begin by making a list of your skills. ...
  2. Understand the industry requirements. ...
  3. List the skills you wish to improve. ...
  4. Get feedback on your design. ...
  5. Look at online tutorials and courses. ...
  6. Stay accountable. ...
  7. Join a group of designers. ...
  8. Read books on design.
Mar 20, 2023

Can you call yourself a graphic designer without a degree? ›

Do You Need a Degree to Be a Graphic Designer? While some graphic designers certainly use a college degree to enter the creative field, it's not a requirement. Many companies hire entry level designers based solely on their portfolio and experience, rather than if they have a degree.

Can I become a graphic designer in 3 months? ›

It is possible to become an amateur Graphic Designer who is well on the road to becoming a professional Graphic Designer in about three months. In short, three months is what it will take to receive the professional training required to start building a set of competitive professional job materials.

Can I learn graphic design in 2 weeks? ›

Learning the basics of graphic design takes a few weeks, but mastering it takes years. The actual time required to learn graphic design is determined by your current skill level and the amount of effort you put into mastering it.

Can you learn graphic design without going to college? ›

Talent, Skills, and a Good Portfolio Are More Important Than a Degree. Graphic design is a great career path for those who have an artistic eye and enjoy creative projects. Contrary to popular beliefs, a traditional four-year college degree is not required to become a professional graphic designer.

Is an online graphic design degree worth it? ›

Is a Graphic Design Degree Worth it? Yes, an online graphic design degree is worth it for many students. Common careers in the arts and design field include creative director, visual designer, senior art director, animator, and digital illustrator.

What are the basic knowledge of graphic design? ›

What Are the Basic Elements of Graphic Design? Line, shape, form, texture, space, imagery, typography and color. Understanding each of these basic elements of graphic design in isolation will help you see how to bring them together and open a whole world of creative possibilities.

Do you need any qualifications to be a graphic designer? ›

You could take a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a design related subject like: graphic design. art and design. communication design.

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