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zzz's picture
83 pencils

Do you need a license to be a graphic designer?

Hello, I want to know if a license is needed to work as a graphic designer?

Commenting on this Forum topic is closed.

KellyR's picture
525 pencils

No, a license is not needed in order to be a graphic artist, but having a college degree with a focus on graphic design helps you when you're seeking employment. Associates and Bachelor's degrees are usually the most sought-after degrees.

If you want to operate a freelance business as a graphic designer, you should check your local state laws about needing to apply for a business license in order to sell your creative services and make a profit from your skills on your own.

functioncreep's picture
135 pencils

While i'll argue that a college degree is essential, all that really matters is a portfolio and experience. So say you go to college to be a documentary director because you watched too much HBO as a child and then things happen in the family way to put school on hold and you keep going back to this internship job that you got yourself after high school at a newspaper and then you finally graduate with a degree in media arts with NO WORK EXPERIENCE other than a few student feature-length student films and all you got is this stinking graphic design work history which is way better than the gas station you were just employed at and a job opens up close to home and your new family so you take it and now it's 10 years later and you haven't picked up a camera in 5 but you have a portfolio and a decent job with benefits, and well... IT HAPPENS!!!

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

I agree that a degree helps and skills help. But really, every job I've ever had was based on what I had just recently done at my previous job. The "What have you done for me lately" thing really applies to the design industry. :)

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Powerpoint is not a design application

KellyR's picture
525 pencils

I should have said most businesses tend to look for a degree or a good deal of equivalent work experience.

AND, I can tell you, personally, as someone who's been the interviewer, a lot of the time, your PORTFOLIO and proof of skills are what sell me.

If you have a great portfolio and can prove you're capable of the work showcased, then you're in a good starting place when it comes to seeking employment.

gwells's picture
1707 pencils

because it's what gets you in the door. a great portfolio does nothing for you if your resume/introduction doesn't get them to look at it.

beyond that, the education will help you understand what you're doing and *why* you're doing it. it's not essential, there are plenty of very good designers with no degree or with a non-design degree, but there's definitely a reason many studios look for people with degrees from reputable schools.

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

While I agree with your point of view to a certain extent, beyond my first job no one ever cared what my education was. They wanted to know if I could do their work at the price they wanted to pay. Maybe my education got me past the first round, but it never has sealed the deal like my portfolio and ability to interview well... :)

I completely agree that many designers just don't learn the 'rules' and instead prefer to just break them coming out of the gate.

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Powerpoint is not a design application

KellyR's picture
525 pencils

A degree is not the be-all-end-all of what gets you in the door. For me, when interviewing I wanted to see a portfolio before even calling the person. A good portfolio might be due to a good degree, but it could also just be due to work experience or a person who's just been blessed with phenomenal creativity and was self-taught.

My process went like this:

1. Got their resume.

2. Did they have an online portfolio? If no - put resume aside. If yes, went straight to portfolio.

3. If portfolio was good, then looked at work experience and education.

4. If portfolio was crap, threw resume out - didn't care what their experience was, work OR college.

5. Arranged interviews with people with good portfolio and good work experience followed by degree.

6. If ran out of interviews and had no more portfolios to look at, went to the people who didn't supply a portfolio immediately and arranged interviews based on work experience and then degree.

I know it seems nasty to do it that way, and even I was told in school "Don't show them your portfolio until you can get an interview!" But I found with so many other artists out there with online portfolios, I HAD to start sending my resume out WITH my portfolio in order to even get my foot in the door.

I put importance of degree at the back, because - jeez, not to sound full of myself, but I only have an Associate's degree, but I know all my past employers thought my work was great (well, except for Miss Micro-managing Psycho Lady mentioned in another post), so the fact that I didn't have a Bachelor's degree didn't matter so much to them as the quality of work I was pumping out.

Now, not all businesses operate and interview that way and the way I do, but that was my reality in the world of being both the interviewer an the interviewee.

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

Psycho bosses never count. :)

Great to hear about this from both sides!

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Powerpoint is not a design application

gwells's picture
1707 pencils

a degree isn't *always* what opens the door, but i know for a fact that it *will* close the door at some studios, if they don't know who you are or if you don't at least do something to get their attention to have them look at your work. i'm speaking from experience.

there are plenty of studios who don't do that, though. and some in-house positions overemphasize a degree, while others deemphasize it. still, you have to admit, it can be a limiting factor in a job search. while you may not have given it as much importance when you were hiring (and i limited how much importance i gave it when i was in a hiring position), there are definitely people who consider the degree important, especially for a junior designer.

on top of that, it's just a good thing to have, both for the reasons above as well as for the good basis in design training. like any other work, a good basis in fundamentals makes for better work.

ireid's picture
1283 pencils

"...all you got is this stinking graphic design work history which is way better than the gas station you were just employed at..."

This made me laugh. . . its tragic but still funny!

"Try not, Do! or do not, there is no try."
-Yoda

onegirlcreative's picture
1090 pencils

As someone who is unemployed and constantly looking, I would say 95% of the jobs posted must have a degree, or equivalent. Well, what exactly is equivalent? Four years experience??? It's like a double-edged sword. You can't get a job unless you have experience and/or a degree, but how could you get the experience with the degree and/or experience to begin with??? I hate this field. LOL

Seriously, I think it all depends on what part of the country (or world) you live in. I would think because it's such a highly competitive field, employers put must have degree as a way to weed out the riff-raff. Not that people without a GD degree are riff-raff, obviously that's not what I mean. But I assume because they don't want to go through thousands of resumes/applications, but hundreds instead. Sucks, but true.

suzanne maestri-walters :: graphic designer :: www.onegirlcreative.com

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"I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint." ~ Frida Kahlo

www.onegirlcreative.com

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

I definitely hated the conundrum the first time I went looking for a graphic design job. You had to have experience to get experience and that was a tough one to get around! I found that doing contract and temp work really helped me build up my resume.

As for getting hired, I find that the qualifications get you in the door but personality keeps you there.

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Powerpoint is not a design application

onegirlcreative's picture
1090 pencils

Very true. That has helped me out a great deal, as well. And I also had two internships—during school and just after graduation—which really helped a great deal, as well. I was always told while in school, but in order to get exposure and experience, an internship was a really good way to go. Obviously, having a job in the field is better, but if you can't find a job, then at least do an internship and/or offer your services to a non-profit to get local exposure.

suzanne maestri-walters :: graphic designer :: www.onegirlcreative.com

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"I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint." ~ Frida Kahlo

www.onegirlcreative.com

zzz's picture
83 pencils

Hi, Thanks for the prompt response. Can I use the company we've registered before but its a soap product w/c is not related to graphic design
It's stil not expired.

gwells's picture
1707 pencils

you'll probably need to ask that of someone in the Philippines. laws there will differ from where most everyone else here is.

mara06's picture
2752 pencils

Are you talking about in the United States? If you have a Federal Tax ID #, you'll need to change the designation code for the type of business you perform that's associated with the number. That change may affect forms and reports required by your state and local governments, too, including your business name registration.

Your business classification can affect any local zoning regulations that might cover your situation, even if you work out of your home; some jurisdictions require (and can tragically withhold) business licenses for home-based businesses of certain kinds. They're usually just concerned about whether or not your business will generate street traffic, signage, and so on that would be inconsistent with a residential neighborhood. You may not have encountered any resistance to doing your soap-making at home, but if you plan to meet with design clients in your home, or hang out a "shingle," you might want to be careful about that. In my case, for the one year I worked out of my home prior to getting a separate studio, I just explained to my local zoning people that I was strictly "outcall," and even then, did a lot of my business electronically, generating less traffic than if I had a regular (*shudder*) job.

The business designation number (or whatever it's called) can also affect which wholesale resources you can use, from third-party vendors that do wholesale business only "to the trade," although in my experience, all they really require is your state tax exempt number for their sales tax filings.

Good luck!

Mara

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

If you have a graphic design organization in your area like www.aiga.org then definitely join it. It's a valuable resource!

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Powerpoint is not a design application

jollup's picture
6 pencils

If only you had to have a licence to practice Graphic Design.. That would weed out the bedroom designers who are untrained, unqualified and undercutting true professionals.

Joel Mills
(MCSD)
Member of the Chartered Society of Designers

onegirlcreative's picture
1090 pencils

who think just because they're proficient in Photoshop, that instantly makes them a graphic designer?

What really bugs me? My friend's son, who is a senior in high school, took Dreamweaver in his Junior year and received a little certificate, as well. So what? Does that make him a designer because he has his certificate in Dreamweaver? Hell no.

There's much more to graphic design than just Photoshopping the hell out of something (i.e. the OVER use of filters). First, typography is HUGE in this field. If you don't know squat about good typography and its history, then it will show in your portfolio. Especially if you're one of those people who love to stretch type in Illustrator. In other words, distorting the hell out if it.

Having good foundations in art to begin with are key, as well.

But don't get me wrong, there are many successful graphic designers out there who are excellent and successful in their field and who never graduated from college. i.e. Stefan Sagmeister!!!

suzanne maestri-walters :: graphic designer :: www.onegirlcreative.com

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"I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint." ~ Frida Kahlo

www.onegirlcreative.com

sancho's picture
15 pencils

Anybody can swipe a cracked version of Photoshop off a P2P program and start layering...but if your creativity requires an electrical outlet, move back in with mommy and maybe you'll get hired to manufacture naked celebrity pictures.

-A closed mouth gathers no feet-

pub3abn's picture
22 pencils

As someone who has reviewed many resumes and portfolios, I can assure you that credentials, formal training, and even scholastic honors do not guarantee the presence of creativity, professionalism, and talent (sometimes it just means the cookie cutter has made another clone). And neither does the lack of those things amount to too much.

What's more important than a license is professional criticism from successful peers, continuing self-education, and a sincere desire to be your best and do great work. And it doesn't hurt to have an artistic streak....

3dogmama's picture
1990 pencils

If this was an episode of Family Feud, you'd have the number one answer.

ttfn!
3dogmama

"Art -- the one achievement of Man which has made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised." - James Thurber

spigot's picture
190 pencils

...but I find myself stuck in the 80's at times.

~

3dogmama's picture
1990 pencils

The only license you need is a desire to create and the God-given talent to do it with. Oh yes, and a thick skin comes in handy.

[edit: but as GWells stated, check the laws governing your country.]

ttfn!
3dogmama

"Art -- the one achievement of Man which has made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised." - James Thurber

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

You need a license to drive but that doesn't stop people from being 'unskilled'. :)

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Powerpoint is not a design application

zzz's picture
83 pencils

Sorry about that, I was asking in Philippine Setting. Yea I know laws here in the Philippines will differ from other country. I was wondering if there are Filipino designers here. I will join aiga.org. Thank you very much for all of your input. I appreciate it.
I studied tourism and now graphic design is my choice. In need to take time to learn.

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