Can you make good money being a graphic designer? If your lead designer… anything, will it pay good?
it’s funny. I’m reading this question and thinking, “what can I say about this?” I worked as an illustration artist while I was in college, loved almost every moment of it, didn’t save a dime, and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. It is a commercial business where clients don’t understand the complexity of what you do, and artists sometimes have a difficult time placing a value on something they enjoy doing.
Yes, you can make good money. Sometimes you do great stuff that doesn’t make a dime. The great example is Milton Glaser who, among many (many) other (and better) iconic designs originated the “I <heart> NY” graphic and didn’t make any money from it at all. Maybe he didn’t need the money, but if he just got $.01 for each “I <heart> <some-dog-breed>” or “I <spade> my-cat” T-shirt … the mind boggles.
I suppose it depends on the supply and demand side of things (and how many suckers there are (-
Yeah. It’s popular wisdom that artists don’t do very well as agents for themselves.
the short answer is, no. Nowadays any kid with a pirated copy of photoshop can be a “graphic designer”. There’s just too much competition.
If you get in with a good firm, you can make a decent living, but you probably won’t get rich, not unless you become famous or something.
For starters, I’m a BFA Graphic Design graduate and have been a paid graphic designer for 2 years.
People who can simply use Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign are not graphic designers; you need to understand design, typography, photography, illustration, advertising, branding, art history and a whole bunch of soft skills to be a decent graphic designer. If you don’t have those things and a great portfolio to back it up you won’t get a job at a distinguished design firm. And it takes a lot more skills and knowledge to be a great one.
And no, graphic designers don’t become famous because most–if not all the work a graphic designer does is anonymous. I challenge you to find any television or printed ad that displays, even in the smallest type, which designer or even studio created it. That’s because it’s about the client and their image, not your’s. The only reason why I get freelance work is because I have a good reputation with clients, they tell other people about the work that I did for them and how their sales increased because of it.
And you don’t have to be famous to be rich either. But you don’t need to be rich to be successful and/or happy. The type of design work I’ve been doing recently is very rewarding because it actually changes people’s lives, and graphic design is such an open and diverse field that every job is so different and challenging that you never get bored. It’s really exciting and I love it.
In response to the original post, you can make good money doing it. It’s easier to work for a studio but freelancing is still a viable option. I’ve been doing it for a while and it pays well, you don’t know where your next paycheck may come from, and you have to do your own taxes quarterly taxes (in the US) as self employed. I’ve had a pretty constant flow of freelance work come in in conjunction with my part-time job, but depending on the area you live in business can’t pay your the $50 and hour you deserve, so you have to charge less. In big cities where there are business with lots of money that’s not so much of a problem, but you still need connections.
Also you need to be really good with clients, design briefs, presentations, and not get screwed by clients (always write good contracts and agree to exactly how much work you’ll put into a project) to really be successful freelancing. You learn a lot really quickly though, and it’s totally worth it even if it’s not your only job.