Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Career Profile: The Work of a Graphic Designer

By now, you probably know what graphic designers do. They design graphics. Yep, the job is that simple. What you may not know are all the nitty gritty details about the career. Where do graphic designers work? How much money do they make? What kind of education do they have to go through? All of these questions and more have to be explored before you can settle into this profession. Before you make a final decision about your future, you need to know about all the details that go into working as a graphic designer. Here is an overview of the work of a graphic designer so you can figure out what you want to do.

Graphic Designer Employers

Graphic designers can work under an array of employers, depending on what people need at the time. Some designers work on their own, where they basically gather clients and work on projects as they come up. Other designers have 9 to 5 jobs, just like everyone else. Here is a look at some of the employers you may be able to work under as a graphic designer:

  • Advertising Firms
  • Colleges
  • Foundations
  • Franchises
  • Government Offices
  • Hospitals
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Private Practice
  • School Districts

Graphic Design Industries

The employers listed above fall under several industries, and each industry has a different set of needs to fulfill. You might want to keep this in mind as you start looking for a position in the future. Common industries for graphic designers include:

  • Advertising
  • Graphic Arts
  • Marketing and Media Management
  • Printing and Publishing
  • Web Development
  • Wholesale Distribution
  • Education

Average Earnings by Degree

In order to learn how to become a graphic designer, you will need to obtain a college degree. This will give you the training you need to work with software programs you need, like Photoshop. There are several degree programs to choose from, including:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design
  • Associate of Applied Science in Visual Communication
  • Associate of Arts and Sciences in Graphic Design
  • Bachelor of Arts and Science in Graphic Design
  • Bachelor of Arts in Advertising
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communications
  • Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts
  • Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design
  • Bachelor of Arts in Illustration
  • Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art
  • Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication
  • Bachelor of Design in Graphic Design
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication
  • Bachelor of Science in Advertising
  • Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design
  • Certificate of Graphic Design
  • Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Graphic Designer Certifications

  • Certified Web Designer
  • Higher National Diploma in Graphic Design
  • Digital Media Certificate
  • Adobe Certified Expert

Graphic Designer Pay Rates

In general, you should be able to make some pretty good money as a graphic designer. Of course, that all depends on the employer you work on and the projects you get a chance to take on. Some graphic designers make more money than others, so it is important to look at all the factors before assessing what your pay rate may be in the future. Here is a list of salaries you may come across as a graphic designer:

Salary by Years of Experience
  • Less than 1 year of experience: $22,023 - $42,903 per year
  • 1-4 years of experience: $24,919 - $48,822 per year
  • 5-9 years of experience: $29,330 - $56,403 per year
  • 10-19 years of experience: $30,812 - $68,539 per year
  • 20 years or more of experience: $31,401 - $70,474 per year

Salary by Location
  • California: $28,945 - $68,254 per year
  • Florida: $24,948 - $50,024 per year
  • Illinois: $28,245 - $54,906 per year
  • New York: $27,951 - $65,919 per year
  • Ohio: $25,182 - $50,367 per year
  • Pennsylvania: $25,582 - $51,736 per year
  • Texas: $27,722 - $52,230 per year

You now have all the basic knowledge you need about the field of graphic design. All you have to do is think about them carefully and determine if this is what you want to do for a living. Now go on. Get to thinking. We're all done here :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Getting Inspiration for a Color Scheme

If you are working on a design project of some sort, you know that one of the most important things to think about is the color scheme for it. This is one of the first topics of discussion when you learn how to become a graphic designer, and it is something that will dictate much of what you do in your multimedia career. As difficult as it may seem to come up with a color scheme for a project, it is something you can do with the right inspiration. Here are a few tips to help you select the perfect colors for whatever you are working on.

Find the Right Image

Sometimes it is easy to pull colors from an image you want to use in a project. For instance, let's say that you are designing an ad campaign for Red Bull. Since the logo is red, blue, and silver, you may pull those colors into your design. You could also use an image on a page to inspire your design, rather than a logo per say. I have even seen people choose a background image for something and then use it as a foundation for the solid colors in the project. You just have to get the right image to use from the start.

Use Complementary Colors

If you don't want to pull colors from an image, you may want to use complementary colors instead. These are colors that appear on opposite sides of the color wheel, like red and green or blue and orange. Complementary colors can create visual contrast, and they will actually make each other stand out. As long as you get the right shade of each color, you should be able to create the look you're going for.

Create a Monochromatic Medley

Sometimes it is fun just to use the same color all over a project. The way you can do this is by using different shades of the same color so that there is still some contrast on the page. You could use light blue for a background color and then bright blue for the accents on top of it. There are tons of ways to get creative like this, even if you are working with the same color repeatedly. If you have no idea which two or three colors you want to put together, this is a great way to still get a project done without stressing about colors.

Relate to the Audience

Think about the colors that your audience is most likely going to be drawn to. If you are reaching out to a younger audience, you may want to use black, white, and a bold color to create a modern look for your project. If you are reaching out to an older audience, you may use more natural colors, like brown and green. You have to know whom you are trying to get attention from. Then you can make a plan that related well to them.

Picking the right colors for a project is an important part of working in multimedia. It may not always be easy to get inspired, and you may even have to wait for inspiration to come to you. When it does though, you should be able to whip out whatever graphics you want with ease. Don't let yourself get frustrated with a project. Just try to push through it the best that you can. If you can stay focused long enough to get through it, you will know what to do next time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to Become a Project Manager

Project managers can work just about anywhere, from multimedia to construction and beyond. If you want to make a lot of money bossing other people around, this could be a great venue for you. Sure, project managers do a lot more than "boss people around," but they are primarily paid to keep everyone around them in check at all times. If you think that you have the leadership and management skills it takes to keep a multimedia project on track, you need to look into becoming a project manager in the future. Here are some tips to help you get started in this exciting career as soon as possible.

Education in Project Management

Technically, you do not need a formal education to work in project management. If you know enough about multimedia to just lead people, you can start your career. If, however, you want to learn how to effectively manage your time and resources during a project, you may look into getting a project management degree. This may be an actual degree in project management, or it may be something like a business administration degree with an emphasis in project management. Some of the courses you might take along the way include:

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Advanced Cost Management
  • Advanced Program Management
  • Applied Managerial Statistics
  • Business Systems Analysis
  • Change Management
  • Contracts and Procurement
  • Developing a Business Perspective
  • Ethics and Enterprise
  • Fundamentals of E-Business
  • Fundamentals of Finance and Accounting
  • Fundamentals of Human Resource Management
  • Fundamentals of Management and Leadership
  • Fundamentals of Marketing and Sales
  • Fundamentals of Organizational Communication
  • Human Resources and Communication in Projects
  • Introduction to Project Management
  • Leadership and Organizational Behavior
  • Legal and Ethical Dimensions of Business
  • Managing Organizational Change
  • Managing Project Risk
  • Managing Quality
  • Marketing Management
  • Motivating Project Teams
  • Project Cost and Schedule Control
  • Project Management Systems
  • Total Quality Management

If you are interested in this kind of training, you can look for schools in your local area that may be able to provide you with the education. If you can't find anything there, you can always look to the internet for help as well. There are tons of schools online that offer business degrees, and they should be able to provide you with an option to become an effective project manager.

Certification in Project Management

Some clients like to work with people who are actually certified in project management. You do not have to get a certification, but this will definitely help you get better paying jobs in the future. The certification requirements for your area may be different than those in another state, so you will have to do some research as to what you need to do. Then you can go about whatever the examination process is to get your state certification.

Salary Ranges in Project Management

Now we're getting down to the fun stuff: how much money you can make as a project manager. Multimedia projects are somewhat hard to predict pay rates for because of the sheer changes in scale. One person may make significantly more than another because he or she is working on a larger project. Common pay rates by degree include:

  • Associate's Degree: $40,772 - $106,809
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science: $57,158 - $120,983
  • Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems: $55,231 - $111,192
  • Master of Business Administration: $54,918 - $121,765

If you think that this sounds like the career for you, click on another tab in your web browser and start looking for a school to attend. In no time at all, you should have all the education you need to lead a multimedia project to success.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to Make a Badass YouTube Video

YouTube is the heart and soul of videos on the web. It is the place people go when they want a good laugh or they want to learn more about a product they saw on TV. In the world of multimedia careers, there will probably come a time when you want to post a video on YouTube. When that happens, you need to make sure it is as catchy as possible. With the right techniques at the right times, you could easily create a viral video that the web will be buzzing about. Here are some tips to help you make the best YouTube video you possibly can.

Pick a Good Topic

Before you do anything with regards to filming or creating your YouTube video, you need to make sure you have a good topic to work with. This has to be something that is interesting and entertaining at the same time. You probably won't get a lot of views for a video titled "How to Clean the Dirt in Your Toenails," so you need to make sure you address what people are looking for. This could be a tutorial, an opinion, a fun tact, a technique, or something else along those lines. You just have to make sure it is relevant to your audience.

Use a High Quality Camera

If you are going to be filming something to put on YouTube, make sure you use a quality camera to do so. Most people won't watch a video filmed on a cell phone, unless the phone happens to have a great camera built in. If you don't have the option to use a good camera, at least try to set the camera you have on the highest resolution possible. That way you will get the best looking video you can.

Maximize Lighting

Again, this is a suggestion for people actually filming a video of someone. If you are just editing images or making some sort of animation, move on to the next time. For the rest of you though, you really need to make sure that there is good lighting in the video. Natural lighting is ideal, but you don't always have the option to use that. If you can't get the sun to come up, you at least need to use the three point lighting system. Here is a video explaining how to do that:

With the lights in place, your audience will be able to clearly see what is going on in the video. Otherwise, you may lose them somewhere along the way.

Avoid Flashy Images

Some people think that having a ton of flashing images in a video will make it look cool and fun. This is especially true for videos with music in them because some directors try to match the images to the beat of the music. Such is the case in the video for "Glad You Came" by The Wanted/ you can see that here:

Flashy images like that may be fun in certain cases, but they can be distracting over time. They can also cause headaches and even seizures if people look at them too long. You just need to keep things simple if you want to make a video that people will really enjoy watching.

Make a Quick Intro and Outro

Make sure you put a blurb before and after your video explaining what it's about, how people can contact you, where they can find the video, etc. This can't be too long or you may cause some people to move on to another video. Just put something short, sweet, and graphically pleasing, and you should have an awesome YouTube video to call your own.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Advantages of Canvas Printed Photos over Traditional Photos

When most people think about a printed photograph, they imagine a glossy image in a traditional frame. While that is the most conventional way to go about preserving a memory, you also have the option to get your photos printed on canvas. This means that your pictures will be put on canvas like a painting, rather than on glossy paper like you would expect. There are a number of advantages to canvas printing that you may want to consider before you go through traditional printing methods. All of these advantages could impact your multimedia career in the long run, especially if you decide to become a photographer in the future. Here are just a few of those benefits to keep in mind for the future.

Professional Appearance

You cannot get a more professional look from a photo than you can with canvas printing. In this case, there is no high gloss sheen to distract from the details of the photo. Every color and every line come out brilliantly, making the photo look more like a piece of artwork and less like a random image from a camera. Think about the difference between a poster and a painting. The painting always looks more professional in the end. Whether you need a piece for your office or you just want a display for your home, you can enjoy the quality that inevitably comes with photos printed on canvas.

Long Lasting Durability

Canvas is a sturdy material, especially if you work with professional photo printers that use good canvases for their work. There is a reason why paintings in art galleries have been around for centuries, while photos are rarely seen within a year of their production. It all comes down to the canvas. Get your photos printed onto canvas and you can cherish the memories of them for years to come. Unless they get exposed to extreme sunlight for long periods of time, you should be able to look at them for decades into the future without having to worry about losing the quality within them.

Three Dimensional Qualities

Canvas prints are inevitably going to stand out from your wall, while traditional photos tend to be flat against the wall. The extra pop that the canvas provides will draw attention to your photos time and time again. You can get framed canvas photos to draw even more attention to the images, and then you will truly create a timeless treasure that your guests will take notice of. You can get the frames as thick or thin as you want, so they don't have to stand out too much. You can pick the look that best works for the piece, the room, etc.

Easy Framing

If you get a photo printed on canvas, all you have to do is add a border around it to frame it. This is often much easier than framing a regular photo, which may require matting and other elements just to look good. As long as you have a few bucks to spend on frame pieces, you can put together a great looking work of art in no time at all.

Final Thoughts

You may find many other benefits with your canvas photos, but there is no denying that getting your photos printed on canvas is well worth the investment. Whether you're a tattoo artist trying to display your past work or a photographer trying to put a gallery on the wall, you can benefit a lot from having your images printed on canvas. Take a look at your options and see if there is a printing method out there that works for you. You should be able to find something that suits your needs and your price range.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

4 Simple Steps for Making Viral Videos

If you are planning to put a video on the web, you obviously want people to see it. Otherwise you might as well just keep it on your computer at home. With the millions of videos that already exist on YouTube, it is hard to come up with something that is going to get as many views as Surprised Kitty or Chocolate Rain. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do to increase the chances for your videos to explode in popularity. You just have to put a little effort into making them right for the web. Here are four simple steps you can take to make a viral videos online.

Step 1 – Pick a Good Topic

The subject matter of your video is going to make a big difference in the amount of views you get on it. There are several types of videos you could choose to make, including:

  • Question and answer: You answer questions that people give to you
  • News: You discuss a hot news topic for the moment
  • Review: You give a review about a product or service
  • Music: You create a music video for a popular song
  • How-to: You provide a guide that people can follow
  • Talent: You show off a certain talent for all the world to see

Some of these video themes work out better than others, so you just have to think about what you would logically want to see online. Then you have to come up with a way to make that kind of video for the internet. If you wouldn't watch it or look for it, chances are no one else will.

Step 2 – Film with an HD Camera

If you are going to make a video of yourself or someone else doing something on camera, you need to make sure you have a good camera to do that. Otherwise you may turn off a lot of viewers because of bad video quality. You have probably bypassed videos in the past because of their quality. I know I have. I don't care how talented someone is or how awesome a clip is supposed to be. I won't watch a video if it was filmed with a child's toy video camera. Invest in some good equipment, and you'll have a much better chance of creating a successful video in the future.

Step 3 – Create a Good Title

The title of your video needs to be enticing and easy to remember. You should think about keywords people would use to look up your video, and then you can work those into the title. You don't always have to do this though because some videos take off without having a keyword-ed title. This video has over 15 million hits on YouTube, and it is simply titled "this drummer is at the wrong gig." It just goes to show what you could do with good content and an interested audience.

Step 4 – Promote, Promote, Promote

You may get a few views on your video just from people discovering it, but you need to put effort into marketing it too. That will ensure that your video gets the attention it deserves. You should put a link to the video on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites you use. You could also bookmark it on Digg, Reddit, Fark, or StumbleUpon to generate as many views as possible. Then all you have to do is cross your fingers and hope people like what you put out.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Dragon Naturally Speaking

Dragon Naturally Speaking is a speech recognition program that types out the words you say right onto your computer. You can say, "Dang this is an awesome blog" into a microphone, and that is exactly what the program will type out for you. There are tons of benefits that can come from using a program like this, but there are also some disadvantages that you need to consider. Before you spend a ton of money on software and a computer mic, you may want to figure out if this is the right option for you. Here are some pros and cons to keep in mind.

The Pros of Dragon Naturally Speaking

In theory, Dragon Naturally Speaking can speed up your typing time because most people talk faster than they type. All you have to do is say what you want to write, and the program will translate that to the computer. This is a great option for people with disabilities that would normally prevent them from writing, and it is a great option for people who have to type for their jobs. I have a stepsister who can only use one of her arms because the other was hurt in a car accident. Dragon allows her to still work online effectively because it takes care of the typing for her. If you are in a similar situation, this program could change your life.

Dragon also gives you a chance to do other things while you type, like text people on the phone or eat a quick meal (assuming it isn't too loud). If you are like me and you need to multi-task all the time, this could be a fantastic solution for you. You can get everything done at the same time and still write an email to someone important in your life. Dragon works for just about any text editor, from MS Word to Gmail. You can customize it to suit your needs.

The Cons of Dragon Naturally Speaking

The main problem I have with Dragon is that it doesn't always hear things correctly. That can make your writing look awkward over time. If you don't enunciate and continue your conversation the whole way through, you run the risk of having a bunch of weird information in your writing. Then you have to go back and edit what you said, which eats up the time you were supposed to be saving with Dragon. It all turns out to be a big hassle in the end.

It takes awhile to get used to working with Dragon, and it is going to feel really weird at first. You have to command it to make punctuation marks for you, including commas. If you are a decent typist, this may seem like more work than you should have to go through. I found out the hard way that I actually typed a whole lot faster than I spoke, just because I was able to let my thoughts flow out of me. No pauses, no corrections…nothing. It would suck for you to waste your money just to find out the same thing.


I think there are definitely people in the world that can benefit from Dragon Naturally Speaking, but I don't think it is a program for everyone. I ended up giving my copy away to a friend of mine because I just didn't have a use for it anymore. This is definitely the best speech recognition software on the market, but it has a ways to go before it gets two full thumbs up from me. You can research it a bit more for youreslf and see what you think.