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The Top Five Things A Graphic Designer Needs!

Whether you are at the start of your career, or you are designing for fun, it can be hard to find a starting point to get into the proper work flow to excel and impress the people that you are doing it for. Below are the ‘Top 5 Things’ you should consider using if you are interested in becoming a Graphic Designer.

1. Sketchbook and Pencil

Image of a sketch book.
Credit to: Google Images

If you are considering doing any sort of design work, you should have a sketchbook with you. If you’re anything like me, and can’t draw for the life of you, don’t panic. A sketch book lets jot down those ideas that would take too long for you to do on a computer. This is important because if you are working with clients or are limited on time, you shouldn’t waste time waiting too long to come up with a concept that will work.

2. A Computer and Mouse

Having a device that is strong enough to handle your working tasks is always nice to have. Whether you are creating catalogues for your client or drawing new designs for a clothing brand, having a computer to be able to create these media files will be well worth it. The mouse controls your movement through the designs so that you can do them precisely.

3. System Software

Image of Adobe Creative Cloud Logo's
Image Courtesy to: Adobe Creative Cloud

As simple as it may seem, having software that enables you to create your designs. In terms of software that is out there, I personally suggest using Adobe Creative Cloud. The reasoning for this, is due to its simplicity but the functionality of what it provides for the user is incomparable to other software that are available. Some programs that may sound familiar are Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere Pro.

4. A Thinking Space

With life as it is, being creative can have its hardships if it isn’t always practiced or is interrupted by others. So at number 4, having a thinking space allows for you to have time and pull 100% of your thoughts to achieving what you are wanting. The space doesn’t have to be large either, whether it’s your bedroom, in your living room, or if you do your best thinking in the shower, it’s all up to you, and that’s the best part of it. Once you do happen to find this space, make sure to use it. Actively practicing creative skills will help you in the long run!

5. Headphones

Having headphones allows you to focus on your work, and can have your own headspace in a busy environment. This is fantastic for designers because a lot of our work happens in our head and having that clear space to think about it allows for better efficiency when you work, which could eventually allow you to get more jobs.

Experiencing Interactive Media Arts

When it started for me, I wasn’t sure if this course was something I was going to be interested in for the rest of my two year student life.

I was out of the province and a days drive away when I received the text, followed by what felt like hundreds of emails confirming I had been enrolled in the Interactive Media Arts course at Assiniboine Community College. But once I had found a place to live, I realized it was too late to go into hiding and pretend post-secondary education didn’t exist.

A Packed Suitcase
Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

The Start

Despite my doubt and anxiety I still decided to show up on the first day of classes (the orientation the week before didn’t really count). While getting to know my teachers was pretty simple, the people considered classmates took a bit longer to break the ice with.

The days quickly became weeks, and then evolved further more into months. As it stands I have now spent around 6 months in this program. While the coding work is a bit of a drag and struggle, the other courses have interested me enough to keep me invested and trying to succeed.

Code – From Pexels

The Work

Aside from some minor classes such as video editing and audio recording/manipulation, the main attraction of this course for anyone with an interest in design, would be the Adobe classes. Several classes are dedicated to teaching and experimenting with the Adobe suite of design tools, including Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and InDesign.

As stated above, this courses work load can be a bit of a struggle. Due to my lack of research into the materials and the workload, I had no idea this would involve as heavy work as coding. Coding is what I would describe as the bane of my courses workload. However, if it’s something that someone would want to pursue then I would recommend it, I personally know successful graduates of this program who excelled at it.

Photoshop Illustrator After Effects InDesign

Photo by Matan Segev from Pexels

The Outcome

Still enrolled, 6 months later, the doubts completely absent from the thoughts in my head, actually thinking I fit in for once in the education aspects of my life.

As someone who never sought out post-secondary I will wholeheartedly say it’s worth the experience, and you may end up enjoying yourself and the work given.

And best of all, you might get lucky like me and meet the friends you finally feel are worth keeping.

A Story from an IMA student

illustration design

Incredible Black & White Typography

Adobe Software Photoshop and illustrators are frequently employed by advertising companies, editorials and graphic design firms. Typical duties of an Adobe Photoshop & illustrator include ideas for brainstorming, sketches, creation of draft illustrations, discussion of ideas with co-workers and completion of illustrations.

If you are still learning the basics of design or want some quick and easy text ideas to improve your printed designs, these beginner tutorials will be very useful. In your lessons you will learn how to apply 3D textures and effects, create logos, use masks and other simple techniques to improve your text.

Creating art with words will never die, no matter how advanced our image-taking capabilities bring us. When paper with moving images such as a computer screen becomes common, designers will continue to use text to convey their message and create visual interest. Challenge yourself to design with impressive text and see where your creativity takes you.

The Movie Story page below features a nice layout with only one font, colors and two font sizes. Although only font faces are used, it’s harder to read, and the hierarchy is achieved using size and color.

Incredible Black & White Typography Poster

Research incredible typography posters.

Sketch out my ideas.

Think about the colour and layout. 

Review my files against the requirements.

There is no simple answer to this, but a good rule of thumb to use font selection is to stick to Impossible-500, Ebrima and Palace Script MT, all regular fonts or fonts by design. And the title of the title is used layer with mask, and I created the background within the white flow lines and color used Black and White. When it comes to font restrictions it is a good thing. Earn interest by choosing two contrasting fonts. For example, in my 11×17 paper, the Illustrator file uses a script or a dirty font for its headings and contrasts them with a sans-serif font for body text.

The contrast makes the text interesting and can help you communicate with ideas you want to emphasize. Variable size, typography, weight, color and style can give your designs a great impact and organize your ideas. Next, you can see how contrast helps you give your text an interesting, striking and even more meaningful appearance.

We couldn’t imagine anything better than to perceive what you can consider, so share instances of your best content impacts in the remarks beneath. Furthermore, on the off chance that you know other helpful Photoshop content instructional exercises or have made your very own instructional exercises, presently is your opportunity to impart them to the world.

Lightbulb on chalkboard

How To Find Inspiration

You walk into your first day of Interactive Media Arts, everything’s great, you meet new people, learn new things, it’s all a piece of cake. Then the assignments start coming and the inspiration and ideas don’t follow. I’ve compiled a list of my tried and true methods that I look to when my ideas just aren’t flowing.

Exploration To Ease Frustration

Go for a walk. Being in the same place for a long time can make it difficult to be creative. A fresh environment can help stimulate new thinking.

Observation is Key

Look at what others are doing, I find looking at designs can help as people have such varying perceptions of the world and they notice different things. Be careful not to copy someone’s ideas. Sites like designinspiration have a lot of great content. Another place I like to go to for inspiration is Pinterest, you can organize your different thoughts into boards, it’s a great resource for anyone.

Woman listening to music
Photo Credit: Bruce Mars from Pexels
Change Your Tune

Listen to music, and if you’re already doing that, listen to something completely different. According to Jill Suttie, music helps diversify your thinking, regardless of if you like what you’re listening to or not.

Speak is the New Chic

Talk to someone. Get their view on the task at hand, they might have an insight you never would have come up with. Sometimes just explaining the project to a friend may help, especially if they have less knowledge in the subject and you have to describe it in a more simplistic way.

notebook
Photo Credit: Ann H from Pexels
Don’t Forget It, You’ll Regret It

When creativity does hit write it down, NOW. It doesn’t matter if it’s a few keywords or a sketch, just get your idea onto something. I can almost guarantee you won’t remember it or at least not to its full capacity. Carry a little notebook with you or keep notes on your phone, make it as accessible as possible to store ideas.

Tried and True

This final tip is something I’m sure you’ve heard a million times but I included it because it’s true: find what works for you, there isn’t going to be any one-size-fits-all solution. Sometimes your go-tos will change as you get older or work on different types of projects.

As Einstein once said, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” This is applicable to more than just physics. I get it, sometimes you’re stressed and time constraints don’t help. Just take it one step at a time and break the task into more attainable chunks. If you still are coming up with nothing, take a short break and start fresh.

If new ideas still feel like finding a needle in a haystack I’ve included some links to alternative sites with a different perspective that may help get the inspiration flowing for you. 

I hope you enjoyed my blog. Thanks for reading!

World reset button

The IMA switch: what it’s like to leave Media for Interactive

When you start college, you enter armed with a bunch of expectations, future plans, a vision for yourself. At least these were the things I was supposed to have to convince my parents it’s a good idea to send their child from a small village in Poland to the other side of the globe. So when the program started, I went all in, overlooking along the way every single thing telling me that I might actually be more of an “Interactive” than I’d thought.

Detour road sign
Detour road sign / Photo by Luan Oosthuizen from Pexels

“But why would you even switch?”

“And what about coding?” Yes, coding is supposedly the biggest reason not to switch programs. The fact that you barely do any web design on the Media side makes it harder to keep up with this big part of the Interactive program. Unless you’re the kind of person who’d learn this “excruciating” content in their own time just for fun…

For a long time that was the way I played this game: learning Media by day and coding by night (here, insert the rest of Fiona’s curse from Shrek). That was until I heard that, best-case scenario, I would end up working in the news anyway. It took some time, fear, thinking, research, and a good piece of advice about following my gut, but the decision was made: no more worries about ending up in the news (unless I’m the star of the news story) – I’m switching.

Boy with a backpack
A boy walking away (not an actual photo of me) / Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

First days as an “Interactive”

It was really weird at the beginning – really, really weird. And scary. I jumped from a talkative group of movie enthusiasts, who’d managed to become my new family, to a quiet bunch of strangers who already had their inside jokes and friend groups. The only comfort was that at least the instructors stayed the same. Mostly.

I got through the first weeks, spending every moment of free time with my old Media group. Until one day they didn’t show up for lunch. So I had my first lunch with the Interactive people and everything else is, probably, history. It took that and a few more group projects to realize that those strangers are actually not as scary and strange as they seemed the first day.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” promotion materials

How it all turned out

The most important thing was that I was finally able to do what I enjoyed instead of something that just “looked cool.” Since the first coding class, I had no more doubts. It was still scary, it was, but I was reminded every day why I knew it was the right decision.

Looking back, I’d say you can’t always know what’s going to happen with your life and you can’t always be sure if you’re making the right decision. But then, you should probably follow your gut. Unless it leads you to the fridge at 1AM. Then maybe don’t.

logo design for self

IMA Beginning Experience

The Interactive Media Arts program is different than what I imagined in a lot of ways. There is a lot more writing, coding, and frustration than I had expected. If you come from a background of taking design or art classes in high school, a thought that might come up is should I be here? The first month was mostly for me was review for design principles, colour theory, and learning Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. It felt like a waste of time, and I was an angsty teen in high school. But I am glad all of our projects quickly kicked up, and honestly kicked my butt at the end of the semester. 

Coding requires a lot of effort. Luckily our teacher Malena had patience with us. It’s a lot of problem-solving. I see how it can easily irritate people when you try and fix something, and it just spirals, but it’s quite cool to create imagery from text to communicate with the computer. Figuring out a problem feels like a great achievement. It is quite a cool process that can be fun once you understand things.

Design is mostly what I came into the Interactive Media Arts program for. On top of the things I knew before I entered this program, I have gained so much more knowledge. From little bits in Adobe programs, to appreciating photography.  Taking photography for a design project and producing everything yourself makes it feel like much more of an extra accomplishment than grabbing royalty-free images. By taking the images yourself, you can capture the exact direction you want to go in. Not that there’s anything wrong with using free images, but it just adds to the project a lot more from what I’ve found; and it’s instantly more personal to the creator. One of the pieces I’ve created so far with photography, was a project creating a postcard with a picture taken of my cat for Halloween.

Halloween Postcard I photographed and edited for Derek Ford’s class, semester 1.

After Effects and Premiere Pro were two completely new programs to me. Once you grasp the concept of one, it’s easy to see how some elements are similar, and make understanding the other one easier. They’re both programs you learn in the IMA program that make it easier to create video content. Even though it is not what I came here for, I am glad to have learned Premiere Pro because it has already opened new direction I can go in with projects.

I have gained so much good experience so far and I find myself excited to learn when I show up. All of the teachers know how to make this program as enjoyable as can be and work hard to achieve that while still producing results in their students. That is why I decided to stick with it.

Your First Year of IMA

Coming into my first year of Interactive Media Arts isn’t anything I thought it would be, though I wasn’t even sure what to expect.

In the summer family and friends would always ask me what I was going to school for in the fall. When I told them I was taking a program called Interactive Media Arts, it was usually followed by a confused look and questioning what it was. I couldn’t actually give anyone a straight answer on what I was getting myself into because I honestly didn’t even know myself. My default answer would always be “It’s web design stuff…” while not knowing exactly what that was or what it could mean.

This is the “web design stuff” to expect your first term in IMA.

If you’ve grown up with or at least know who the Ninja Turtles are, you’re already one step ahead in visual communications. The visual communications course mostly focuses on different art styles, art history and the elements and principles of design. Coming into this program I didn’t have any background in art since I took band all throughout highschool. Having to really dig deep into what an artist was thinking while creating a piece is very challenging to do when you’ve had no experience with it. But you learn, and teach your eye to really look deeper into the meaning of things and to distinguish different art styles.

<p> For an hour after lunch everyday is coding, coding and more coding. Networld is where you learn basic html and css to code a website. If your code is broken, you probably forgot a  “ ; ”</p> 

You’ll never listen to a movie the same again after learning how to create foley sounds. Digital Audio teaches you how to record and edit voice overs, commercials, soundscapes, sound sfx and music montages with Adobe Audition. Writing skills and Media writing are two classes that teach you different styles and techniques of writing while the Digital Design class explores the many tools of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and After Effects. And lastly in the Digital Video class, we learnt how to operate a DSLR camera, capture video and photography stills, set up 3 point lighting and to edit in Premier Pro.

Every class led down to one big final project at the end of the term that took about a month to complete. It was interesting to finally see how all of the different classes came together in the end with all of the different tools I had used and learnt throughout.

What’s So Great About the IMA Program?

The Interactive Media Arts program at Assiniboine Community College is a wonderful program for those looking to expand their horizons and make a name for themselves in the interactive media business. From audio editing and media writing to video editing and graphic design, the Interactive Media Arts program provides students with the vital skills that they’ll need if they want to become successful moving forward in an electronic media career.

Interactive Media Arts Logo – by Merissa Mayhew

The future of business is online, so the IMA program is the perfect way to secure an important set of skills in order to give yourself a prosperous future. Throughout the course you will learn essential skills such as writing professional emails, filling out incident reports, and creating an in depth resume to help you secure jobs in the future. You also learn job specific skills such as video editing and capturing, audio editing and capturing, website design standards and coding, and understanding as well as making art. The skills you are taught are industry standard skills and will prove to be very useful assets to anybody looking for a future job in interactive media.

Throughout the course you will also learn how to use industry standard tools and programs to create your online media such as, but not limited to:

  • Adobe Photoshop – used for professionally editing visual digital media using various tools to achieve the desired outcome when making flyers, posters, advertisements, various other marketing materials, and essentially any other content that could use a touch up. Photoshop is useful for miniscule edits to make your media more appealing as well as large scale projects where you create your own masterpiece.
  • Adobe Illustrator – useful for creating your own assets and designs for anything ranging from icons and logos to full on works of art. If you are particularly fond of creating your own personalized art in a digital medium it is one of the best tools that you can have in your repertoire.
  • Adobe InDesign – InDesign is a perfect tool if you want to design a layout for an article or other form of print or online text, it does one job, but it does it very well.
  • Sublime Text – it is one of many tools used for website design and coding, allowing the user to input their code and test it out online, it doesn’t do anything special, but it is a very useful program nonetheless.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro – an extremely useful tool for video editing that provides you with everything that you need to create an amazing video masterpiece. Premiere Pro allows the user to cut, combine, add effects to your videos, and export your videos to a whole bunch of different formats.

The IMA program is a fun and informative way to gain knowledge on different media making techniques and strategies and I would highly recommend it to anybody looking to get into a job in anything related to interactive media.