Educational programs in graphic arts cover such a wide range that your
program might not even be called graphic arts.
"It's confusing to many," says Bill Barrett of the Association of Independent
Colleges of Art and Design. The field covers such areas as "communication
design, visual communications, graphic design, graphic communications, computer
graphics, etc., not to mention subareas like packaging, advertising, art
direction and the like."
Educational requirements vary. Some occupations, such as industrial
design, require a bachelor's degree. For other design professions, a two-
or three-year program that awards a certificate, diploma or associate's degree
in design is sufficient.
Four-year university programs generally cover art and art history, computerized
design and basic engineering, among other topics.
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design has accredited over
240 American post-secondary institutions with programs in art and design.
"Design is a huge field, which allows for many types of designers,"
says George LaRou, associate professor and director of new media at the Maine
College of Art. "You may find that your love of music, for instance, leads
you to work for a record label where you design covers and booklets for CDs.
"Of course, there is the web, where many of our students have found careers
as interface designers, interactive artists, etc.," he says.
Take art classes in high school (or even outside of school). Computer
skills are also important -- many graphic arts programs use Mac-based platforms.
"Graphic designers work with such a wide range of projects that every academic
experience will be of some help in their development," says LaRou. "Critical
thinking and the ability to express oneself in writing are invaluable
skills to a designer. Basically, every course you take in high school is important."
It's important to be well-rounded. "Balance is the key," says Paul
Saikia. He is the coordinator of the graphic design major at York College
of Pennsylvania. "We need artistic people who are not just artsy-fartsy weirdos.
A good graphic designer is very much in touch with what is happening in society,
Besides tuition and books, you'll likely have to pay for design materials.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Artists
and Related Workers
American Institute of Graphic Arts
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Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation
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National Association of Schools of Art and Design
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