How’d you get into that!? Graphic Design

Do you like to create things? Do you find yourself doodling in your notebook or playing with pictures in Photoshop? Perhaps you should look into the career field of Graphic Design! This can be a very broad field. You can work for yourself or a company, with a team or alone. Graphic designers are the ones who create everything you see.

Ever wonder who created:

  • The McDonald’s “Golden arches”
  • Anoka Ramsey Community College Logo
  • That t-shirt of Grumpy Cat

Even our Summer T-Shirts every year come from the collaboration of our ideas and a designers.


Graphic Designers, and a team of others, create much of what we see everyday and play a role in creating the identity of companies and organizations that we all recognize. In 2014 the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the the average income for Graphic Designers in Minnesota was $50, 940. This is about $24.49 per hour.  The lowest make around $30,000 and the highest make about $75,000. It was estimated in 2012 that by the year 2022 there will be an increase of 17,400 more jobs available at a growth rate of 7%, which is slower than average. So you want to make sure to partner experience and a great portfolio to showcase your talents. Often students who receive a degree in Graphic Design will also learn Web Design and other skills to have a broad range of abilities.

But enough of numbers and stats. Our interviewer this week is Mr. Chris Berseth!


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1.)     Why don’t we start off with the basics. Tell us a little about yourself. ( Where are you from? How old you are? Describe your job and how long you’ve been at it, etc.).

33, currently living in St. Paul, MN and working as a creative consultant for Fairview Health Services.

2.)    Why did you want to get into your job? Was it something you’ve always known you wanted to do? If not, what lead you to it?

TwoGrowing up I was always really into art, especially comic books and album artwork. Originally I was more interested in eventually becoming a comic book illustrator, but became really interested in graphic design towards the end of high school when I started reading music magazines and realized that I could have a job doing that.

3.)    Can you define for us what a Graphic Designer does?

The responsibilities of a graphic designer really vary from one place to the next, but generally the job involves pulling together photography, illustrations, and typography into some sort of finished product representing an idea or message that needs to be effectively communicated to a mass audience.

4.)    How did you become a Graphic Designer? Do you need a college degree? Are there certifications required? If you do go to college, what should you study?

I started out by pursuing a college degree in graphic design and upon graduating took my first job at a local print shop as a production artist. In this position I was introduced to several methods of printing and the processes that need to occur in order to complete a finished product. When I started out at my current place of employment, I worked as a project and print coordinator developing timelines and processes for completing projects. I have just recently stepped into a more creative role where I get to create a variety of printed and digital pieces to support the marketing of Fairview Health Services.

5.)    How do you find work in your field? Are there different types of jobs within the field? What is the job market like?

As stated earlier, the job responsibilities vary from place to place. Some positions are more print focused, others more digital in nature. Also, you could find yourself doing extremely creative work or you could end up working on the production end of projects. It really depends on what exactly you’re looking for and every job out there has its pros and cons. The job market has generally been pretty good over the years, except for a couple of years in the recent past, but things look to be on the upswing currently.

6.)    What would the average work day look like?

Well, I would say the for the most part there’s no such thing as an average work day. Sometimes the unpredictability of what you’ll be working on is great, but it can also make for a bit of chaos now and then. I would say be prepared to stay busy, because employers are looking for people who are going to work hard and do a good job. Enjoy the work that you enjoy doing and get used to the work that you don’t enjoy doing, because there is no such thing as a job where you’re always doing exactly what you want to be doing.

7.)    What is the work/life balance like? (Do you work super late nights, odd hours, and weekends?)

Again, this really varies from place to place. Generally speaking, if you’re looking for the type of job where you’re always working on projects for different clients, you’re probably going to end up finding a job at some sort of creative agency. In this type of setting, expect to work overtime and put your job before everything else in your life. If work/life balance is important to you, you’re probably going to want to work as part of an in-house creative team, most likely for a larger company or organization (think government, health care, higher education). These jobs have often been looked at as less creative in nature, but they’re still creative, just in a different way (more focused on developing long-term solutions than hopping on the most current trend).

8.)    What’s the best part of your career?

The people. 100%. You can have the “dream job” you’ve always wanted, but if the people suck to be around, you’re not going to be happy for very long. Find a job working with good people who don’t make your life miserable and it won’t matter what kind of work you’re doing. It will be totally worth it.

9.)    What’s the worst part?

Not always getting what you want. It’s tough to deal with, but it’s necessary and you can handle it. You’re a grown up.
.

10.) What are the biggest misconceptions people have about your job?

That just being a good artist is what will make or break you in this industry. The people you’re working for are trying to sell a product, service, or idea—not a work of art. It’s your job to help them do it as effectively and efficiently as possible. Sometimes that means setting aside your personal need to express yourself and do what’s best for the project.

11.) Any other advice, tips, or anecdotes you’d like to add?

Dream big, but be realistic. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be okay with not always getting your way. You’ll be better for it.

A huge thanks to Chris for giving his time up to answer our questions! This is a great field for some of you to get into if you like being creative. Make sure to talk to your advisor about it if you’re looking for more information about what you can do with a degree in Graphic Design.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Income Graphic Designers

Minnesota Graphic Design Job Outlook

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