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Does Formal Education Matter in Graphic Design?

Lukasz Kulakowski

Lukasz Kulakowski

A degree can help you learn about design processes, develop ideas, or understand and resolve design problems when you begin your design journey. And it's a safe environment where you can learn. Your tutors can help you understand your mistakes and correct them. 

In addition to that, you build an informal network with other people, and being around people with the same interest stimulates your growth and creativity. Having this design base is essential, and it's much easier to choose which path you want to take as a designer

When you are already somewhere in the middle of your design career, self-study effectively enhances your skills. There are plenty of online courses, TedTalks, and even Youtube videos that help you move to another level.

And no matter how experienced you are - never stop learning.

Website: www.emptypage.pl

Social Media: www.linkedin.com/in/lukaszkulakowski/

Ryan Paonessa

Ryan Paonessa

Formal graphic design education can be very useful especially as a starting point and/or to get your foot in the door, but nothing compares to hands-on experience and the real-world problem-solving that comes along with it. 

A real education develops as a result of working. If you’re opting out of formal education, be sure to self-study general design thinking, systems, typography, and the ways in which people designed by hand prior to computer programs.

Website: www.rpdsn.com/

Social Media: www.instagram.com/rp.dsn/

Elia Colombo

Elia Colombo

Even though I had formal education, in my opinion, it doesn't matter. Most of the designers I learned about in my books haven't had a proper education. 

Moreover, from a general standpoint, education is basically the creativity nemesis. The more you educate yourself, the less you're free to explore new paths.

Website: www.gebe.it

Social Media: www.instagram.com/gebelia/

Laura Elizabeth

Laura Elizabeth

A few years ago a degree was incredibly useful (if you went to the right university). It could help get your foot in the door at design agencies and you could build up your network and learn about the industry.

Despite all these benefits, in 2021, I would not recommend going down the university/degree route. Now there are so many ways to become a graphic designer online. You learn fastest when working on real projects, not assignments. And now anyone has the ability to work with real clients on real projects whenever they like and use tools to enhance vector images while learning.

The most important thing to do if you want to be a designer is design. You can do that in a classroom while paying for a degree, or you can do that while being paid for real client work.

Website: www.designacademy.io/

Social Media: www.twitter.com/laurium 

Jack Page

Jack Page

I say No, purely on the basis that I have a degree in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics and a masters in Graphic Communications, I have since never had a job in the industry due to NOT the fact my grades and qualifications didn't match, but because I didn't have industry experience. 

It's very disheartening to train all that time, graduate, and find all applications have 2-5 years experience as an essential requirement. I have since become self-employed and work as a freelance graphic designer in an attempt to grow my portfolio but also make it look like I've worked for someone! 

But I do think formal education would be required should you get a job in the end. You do get taught the facts and important details passed down through the generations of designers and lecturers. You become disciplined in your work. 

Website: www.behance.net/KrakenInkDesign 

Social Media: www.instagram.com/krakeninkdesign/ 

Nicole Mernagh

Nicole Mernagh

Generally, it's down to the individual and their own learning style, but a good foundation of the basics is important. If you're self-taught and walk into a job not knowing what 'bleed' is, you're going to have a bad time.

Social Media: www.linkedin.com/in/nicole-mernagh-bb5b983b/

Kosuke Futsukaichi

Kosuke Futsukaichi

I believe having a formal education in any type of discipline will level up your skills. This includes practicing the fundamentals but also studying design history to learn all the great work that came before us. Personally, learning this history allowed me to appreciate a wider breadth of design and introduced me to ways to break out of the mold.

Website: www.kosuke.world

Social Media: www.linkedin.com/in/kosukef/

Dickon Knowles

Dickon Knowles

I'm finding myself torn on how to accurately express feelings on this given such a binary choice as 'Yes' or 'No'. I've ultimately chosen 'Yes' which is making me feel a bit uneasy, given that I myself have had a very informal relationship with education. I was home educated until the age of 17 and even by the time I'd gone to university I had very little stake in what the institution had to offer me. (I entered the education system with a highly inflated and undeserved ego).

But despite my hesitation, I would be remiss not to acknowledge that I owe most of my career to the time I spent in formal education. I met the people I now run my studio with. I was endlessly inspired by my peers. I gained insight and support from my tutors. And it got me out of my parents’ house.

I had initially thought I'd talk about how 'graphic is a formal art form' and that 'great design follows structural forms and rules' but I think that's likely not true. Or at least, you could probably teach yourself this and be a great designer without getting yourself into massive debt. But do I think 'Formal Education Matters' in graphic design? Yes, I do, but I don't think it's all that matters.

Website: www.dandelion-burdock.com

Social Media: www.linkedin.com/in/dickon-knowles-8b068319/

James Hill

Sketchy monster drawing - Passion and a good team are more important than formal education for a designer - Image

With the amount of online content available, if you have an inquisitive mind and passion for the subject, then all you need is great people to work with and learn from.

Website: www.northforge.co.uk

Social Media: www.instagram.com/northforge_studio/

Ion Lucin

Minimalist blue logo - No formal education is required to become a designer, but knowledge is never enough - Image

You can never have enough education, or knowledge in general. Formal education is not necessary in order to be a designer.

Website: www.ionlucin.com

Social Media: www.instagram.com/ion_lucin/

Matt Wilson

White minimalistic logo on a blue background - For a designer, a portfolio is more important than formal education - Image

I feel that formal education is no longer the only way to enter the design industry. A strong well-presented portfolio speaks louder than any degree. 

You can obtain a strong portfolio in a manner of ways, whether it's learning from YouTube or taking an online course, or reading great books. The work speaks for itself and it's easy to spot someone who is passionate about design and that person will always go places.

Website: www.mwmotion.tv

Social Media: www.twitter.com/mw_motion

Con Kennedy

Con Kennedy

More and more, employers are seeking national certified formal qualifications in design. However, learning doesn't end once you complete university. Designers and their employers have an obligation to continually improve their skills to meet industry and societal needs.

Website: www.conkennedy.ie

Social Media: www.twitter.com/conkennedy

Daniel McAdam

Daniel McAdam

I think the rules have changed. Now, with resources such as YouTube and Linkedin, people can refine their talent and educate themselves. Professional design software is becoming more affordable whilst social media is a great way to market yourself.

Website: www.dannymcvisuals.com

Social Media: www.instagram.com/dannymcvisuals

Alexandr Hovhannisyan

Alexandr Hovhannisyan

I studied at the Graphic Design department in university and starting from the second year I switched my study to remote, found a job as a junior designer in a creative agency, and got real-life experience, which is very different from meaningless hours, weeks, and years you spend in university.

If you don't become a good specialist, you should understand what people need nowadays. Just take a month to get familiar with software and go for an internship! Try new things, make mistakes - a lot of mistakes - and become better and better with every new project.

Website: www.behance.net/allergicdesigner

Social Media: www.instagram.com/alexanh20/



I think formal education is a solid base to have but don't expect it to answer all of your questions! Learn the fundamentals - composition, color theory, etc. And then throw yourself headlong into it, that's what graphic design is all about!

Website: www.creativemints.com

Social Media: www.behance.net/creativemints

Sallyanne Theodosiou

Sallyanne Theodosiou

Companies are interested in the work and the personality so people passionate about their subject and focused on what they want to do can pick up and develop the skills to work in the wide variety of jobs on offer in graphic design in a variety of ways, and show their abilities in a good portfolio. 

However, the majority of students are often unsure of what they want to do and lack the motivation and drive to help them succeed through an independent route so education offers the opportunity to engage in wider ideas, learn how to learn, develop their skills, and self-analysis, and give them an awareness of their options.

Website: www.uca.ac.uk/

Social Media: www.linkedin.com/in/sallyannetheodosiou/

Irfan Iqbal

Irfan Iqbal

If you are planning on becoming a freelance designer, a degree won't matter very much to potential clients. What matters most is your quality of work, personality, and your potential – not where you went to school, or if you even went to school.

Website: www.behance.net/creative402

Social Media: www.behance.net/creative402

Fintan Taite

Fintan Taite

I'm a mid-career illustrator who works in a wide range of areas, including comics, children's publishing, animation, and corporate work. Good design is always a factor in creating compelling images but visual thinking and problem-solving ability can trump a lack of formal training in graphic design. 

Website: www.fintantaite.com

Social Media: www.twitter.com/fintdoodles

As you see for all this graphic design quotes, they are all for giving good message and hope for people. 

The most famous graphic designer are always using the most popular colours for the best effects on the schemes in graphic design. They are also using all the colour that go well together, it helps a lot for following the graphic design trends.

Standing out most from the responses we received is that real-world experience is crucial whether in combination with formal education or teaching yourself the basics with the help of online resources. Formal education in a university or college setting can be beneficial but isn’t absolutely necessary. What’s necessary is to have an understanding of the basics of graphic design. 

If you’re dedicated and you find yourself learning quickly through tutorials that can be done through self-study. There’s a lot of tutorial and course-type videos available for free through platforms like YouTube and Linkedin alone. Once you’ve got a good grasp of design elements it becomes your foundation to build your portfolio. 

Our design experts also confirm that there’s a lot more potential to get projects online than there used to be. There is a myriad of portals where you can sign up as a freelancer and find jobs quickly. 

Our last major takeaway here is that learning never ends for a designer. There will always be new avenues to explore design, new features of updated software to learn, or general wisdom to discover about the craft that only comes with experience.