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Creative communicating essential to careers in graphic design

Communicating messages through art, the work of graphic designers can be seen almost everywhere today.

Graphic design careers encompass a broad range of tasks, but all are designed to communicate something to others. They create images and artwork to announce events, promote products, services or ideas, explain or demonstrate useful information. They work with photographs and computer-generated images, and use and design typefaces for all variety of commercial messages.

Jackson College offers students interested in graphic design the opportunity to earn an associate degree or certificate in visual communications/graphic design. The program prepares students for entry-level positions in design in various settings such as publication and printing industries, advertising and marketing organizations, and graphic design departments of corporations, government agencies and retailers.

The College now offers a new certificate program in graphic design/print production, which will give students the skills they need to work in the hands-on, technical side of printing and publishing. A new skill set in graphic design includes courses in three of the Adobe® Creative Suite® programs, Adobe® Illustrator®, Adobe® Photoshop®, and Adobe® InDesign®. This will teach students the minimal computer skills necessary to assist in pay layout and design, which may be a starting point to graphic design or enhance one’s current career.

Graphic designers perform a variety of tasks, from an initial meeting with a client or their supervisor to discuss a project, to deciding the project’s scope, using computer software to create the project, then working with the client or supervisor on any necessary changes or corrections before printing or publishing the work.

While a great deal of graphics work is done with computers, JC instructor Christie Hughes doesn’t want students to overlook all the basic skills and abilities necessary for the job. Hughes began teaching after years of working as a graphic designer in agency, publishing and corporate settings.

“It is really important to have a foundation of good design principles. Without it, designers will not be able to compete,” Hughes said. “Technology and computer skills are essential, but those can always be learned, and will need to be learned because the software programs are always changing and upgrading.”

Students will benefit from art history and design classes, a sense for photography, along with creativity and imagination, Hughes said. Business skills such as networking, an understanding of marketing and brand identity, an awareness of process and an all-around sense of business savvy will be important to a person’s success as a designer. With the growth of the Internet and social media, students will boost their job prospects in the future if they also have some web design skills and knowledge of social media tactics.

The job outlook for graphic design shows an expected increase of about 13 percent in the next several years, about as fast as average for all occupations. Median wages are about $43,500, with a range from $26,200 to more than $76,910. Hughes said in the mid-Michigan area, graphic design jobs usually start in the $30,000s, while manager or executive level position may make $70,000 or more.


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