Landing Your First Graphic Design Jobby Brendon O'Dwyer on 25/10/2012
It’s hard work landing your first full-time Graphic Design job for the majority of us. So I want to delve into the many leads you can follow for that first step into the industry.
I graduated from Canterbury University with a Fine Arts Degree a few years ago now, and it took me a good couple of months to land my first full-time job in the design industry. Why? Because I was fussy about where I started, and its pretty tough out there to boot. I didn’t want to work some pre-press printers job, I had to unleash some sort of creativity right away and for clients that I liked. Calling it competitive is an understatement. But with perseverance and a bit of talent, you’ll be snapped up into the right role in no time. I’m now working at a small creative studio, and have been for over a year with big film industry clients.
A lot of people I know begin to pull out that old it’s such a ‘catch 22′ phrase — you need experience to get your first job but you don’t have it. Which is very true to an extent. Yes you need experience, but you can very well get that during study. Its all about collecting and refining your work to show your talent, and namely your expertise. You should be actively seeking design all the time for friends and family to local businesses all during study. If you’re passionate about design it’ll shine through in your work and people will approach you when the time is right. Just don’t give up. Love what you do.
A very frequent question I come across through designers, artists and creative groups is — how, where and when do I get my portfolio up and running, and on what networks etc. Well, the sooner the better. The sooner you are actively putting your work online the sooner people will start to recognise you. The more exposure you get, the better. You should already be on Twitter following all the big names out there like Pentagram, Experimental Jetset, Sagmeister & Walsh etc. Listen to design Podcasts like On The Grid, Design Matters and Type Radio. Even Facebook can be a wonderful place to share your work and get noticed, even get freelance work! Get amongst it!
But portfolio wise, you really need to nail this. Websites like the Behance Network are great, and really helpful for networking, getting feedback, and meeting other creatives. However, you can get just as much exposure through the likes of Twitter if you use it well. There’s nothing more professional than a custom domain name, website and identity. Even if you aren’t a web designer its very easy to setup your own site through platforms like WordPress and Cargo. Just remember, its all about the content and your work – not(!) a flashy website. Less is always more. If you’re like me any excuse to come up with a new logo especially for yourself is always exciting.
Recruitment agencies are a good way to go. But you’ll also find as a graduate that they can also be quite cold hearted. They generally only want people with 1-2 years(+) experience, which as a graduate can be rather frustrating. But if you show them you’ve got talent and hopefully some freelance experience under your belt — they’ll snap you up. There are a number of recruitment agencies in New Zealand worth checking out, and you’ll find they have a lot of really great resources on their websites for anyone jumping into the creative industry. Word of mouth does wonders. Get to events like Semi-Permanent and We Can Create. Make an effort to meet the people you want to be like, and make sure they walk away knowing your name.
Ultimately, if you’ve got the drive and passion you will get the job you want. When you get it, you’ll want more and more as time goes on, you’ll strive to be a better designer, and crave more and more creative outlets. There’s a lot of support out there and other designers ready to help you get networking, so what are you waiting for?