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Graphic Design/Graphic Design and Education

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Question
"Hi,
I have a question regarding education in graphic design and a career. I currently work in Non- profit but I hold a BA in Mass Communications where my focus was Public relations. I took a graphic design course back then and not only did I love it but, I was pretty good for a beginner (according to my peers and teachers). Fast forward 4 years later and Iím ready to take the plunge and learn more and switch careers into the design and marketing world. Iím taking a small workshop now to refresh my Photoshop skills but now I want more.  I was wondering if a Certificate program matched with a good portfolio would be enough for me to land a decent job/clients OR should I try to get at least an Associateís. I already have a BA and I feel like with a good semester of training and lots of practice and networking I should be able to build a small brand of my own without paying for another BA. I live in NYC, so there are numerous opportunities as well as affordable certificate programs at local colleges. How important is education in the Graphic Design workforce versus actual skill and portfolio?"

Answer
Hello Krystie,
I am a firm believer in education. As much as you can get. Being a graphic designer entails not just knowledge of the programs but a background in art and art history as well. Unfortunately, many artists do not have this background and to me, their work reflects this. Of course, I may be elitist when it comes to this since I hold a BA in illustration and graphic design with a minor in philosophy.

That being said, I also know some fantastic designers who have little or no schooling and couldn't converse their way out of a paper bag. Go figure.

The reality is you don't really need a degree in design. At all. And most clients don't have a clue as to what good design is unless they are working in a major corporation with huge budgets.

If your portfolio is good and you can talk a good story, you get work. In the 30 years I have been at this, I have never had anyone ask about my degree. Ever. I think it is to your advantage that you have the degree in Mass Communications and PR simply because you can discuss a client's needs and have a better overview and understanding of marketing in general. And like any other job or service, your personality and contacts are what gets you in the door.

Learn as much as you can about the programs and quality design. There are a lot of mediocre designers out there. Try not to be one of them.

Good luck,
Saul Fineman
Fineman Communications
finecomm.com  

Graphic Design

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Saul Fineman

Expertise

As a freelance graphic designer/marketing consultant for over 25 years, I have extensive experience in branding, marketing, and the conceptualization and production of all types of printed materials. This would include everything from logo design, packaging, ads, collateral, exhibit booth design, and much more. I also work on web site design conceptualization (but not the technical implementation). I have been an avid user of all things Mac since 1985 and work with programs such as Photoshop, QuarkXPress, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, etc...

Experience

In the mid 1980's through the early 90's, I worked in the field of advertising, marketing, and graphic design as president of an advertising/graphic design boutique with 13 employees. For the past 17 years, I have been freelancing from my home and have a consortium of experts that I work with in a "virtual" advertising agency. I am basically the creative director within this agency which includes copy writers, marketing experts, photographers, web designers and coders, as well as videographers, musicians and recording engineers.

Organizations
guru.com, LinkedIn, Southern California Masonic Lodge No. 529, Lecturer-USC Annenberg School of Communications, El Segundo Chamber of Commerce

Publications
LinkedIn.com

Education/Credentials
BFA, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA 1978

Awards and Honors
2007 and 2008 Pollie Award-Gold Award for Direct Mail-American Association of Political Consultants, twice awarded designer of the month at guru.com

Past/Present Clients
MGM, 20th Century Fox, Democratic National Committee, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Hanjin Shipping, Leiner Pharmaceuticals, Ritter Natural Sciences, Los Angeles Public Library System, Full Circle Opera Project, Dead On Tools, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

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