A Career In Graphic Design

Neasa White – Graphic Designer


“If you find yourself thinking, this menu design is not great it could be so much better, then who knows. . .  you could be a born designer.”

I work as a senior designer in a busy Dublin 8 Design Studio. Our team of 7 work on projects ranging from brand identity and development, packaging, brochures, reports, prospectuses, advertising, both print and digital,  to websites and videos. Our clients come from diverse industries and sectors such as Banking, Education, Pharma, Food and Drink, Hospitality and Healthcare.

  • What kind of qualifications and experience are needed to pursue a career in Graphic Design?

As with most careers these days employers are looking for a diploma/degree in Design Communications. It’s a given that most newly qualified graphic designers will have little or no experience. However, unlike other industries, you will have to prove your worth from the start with a college portfolio. Employers will be looking for some level of creativity and evidence that your understand the design basics. You should also be creative with your CV and by that I don’t mean giving false information but finding an interesting way to present your CV. No potential employer wants to see spelling mistakes on a CV, while it may not seem like a big deal it suggests there is a lack of attention to detail and that’s something that is very important in this industry.

  • What part of the job do you find to be the most challenging? Most satisfying?

The most challenging aspect of studio life is keeping up with a heavy workload and  meeting deadlines. In this industry it’s not enough to just get the job done, the client expects fresh ideas and designs with every project, but oftentimes they don’t understand the process of how we get there of how long it takes. The most satisfying aspect of the job for me is seeing the finished printed product and knowing the client is happy with the job and how it was handled. When things work well the studio can be guaranteed more business from the client , in that sense it is so important to build and maintain good client relationships.


“You’ll find yourself working late on projects or thinking about them outside of work but you’ll do it and find satisfaction when you’ve cracked the problem and exceeded your client’s expectations.”

  • What kind of stress do you deal with?

As a designer you will have to deal with the stress of deadlines quiet a bit. In most studios you’ll have several projects on the go at any given time. You deal with this by managing your clients expectations and keeping the lines of communication open. There will always be deadlines to be met at every stage of the project and its not like regular 9 to 5 jobs in that sense. You’ll find yourself working late on projects or thinking about them outside of work but you’ll do it and find satisfaction when you’ve cracked the problem and exceeded your clients expectations.

  • What kind of changes do you see coming in this line of work?

In the future the clients will be looking for someone who can deliver on every creative aspect of their project, be it brand identity, print and web design and digital media. Its happening already, the lines between print and digital are fading and while I’m a firm believer that there will always be a need for print design its good to get involved in the digital side of things too.

  • Where do you get your design inspiration from?

These days mostly online but I’m always picking up brochures and magazines and anything that I think is designed well. As designers we soak up a lot of ideas from other sources, if its done well we oftentimes try to emulate the look. Pinterst and designspiration are two good sites to look at.

“A client wants to feel you’ve understood the brief and will deliver ideas to suit their project.”

  • In your opinion, what are the personal qualities or abilities that are required to do well in Graphic Design?

Most importantly you have to have some passion for design and art. You’ll need a portfolio to be accepted on any design course.  A creative person with a good eye and attention to detail can forge a career in design. However its not just about being creative, client relations is a huge aspect to design so you must be a good communicator, a client wants to feel you’ve understood the brief and will deliver ideas to suit their project.

  • What or who has been the most help to you in your career? How did they help you?

The studios I worked in as a junior designer had the biggest influence on how I work today. It was a steep learning curve and in a sense a baptism of fire, and I often found myself wondering why I didn’t pick something a bit easier and more nine to five. Its your passion to create that keeps you going on days like that. As a junior I was given the guidance I needed to master the design programmes like Quark which is the old indesign, photoshop and illustrator. Working with the senior designers and creative directors I learned the importance of really thinking about design solutions, its not just about making things look nice. They must be relevant to their audience and communicate the message clearly. When starting any new projects your most important tools will be pencil and paper, mouse and keyboard come after.

  • What advice would you give to someone who is interested in a career in Graphic Design?

Any Leaving Cert student hoping to enroll on a graphic design course needs to have a portfolio first and foremost. Grades will be important too. If interested in Graphic Design try to consider all the aspects to it and don’t think you will be designing album covers for the rest of your life. Design is all around you, everyday, from ads and posters to magazines and papers, billboards, brochures and menus. Try to look closely at these things, if you find yourself thinking this menu design is not great, could be so much better then who knows you could be a born designer.

For more information on Graphic Design, check out some of these links.


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