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Images, Graphic Design, and Digital Photography Discussion of all things graphics.

Programmer to designer...career advice please, please!!


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UnhndldExcptn

 
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Disclaimer: I am fairly new to these forums so hello, and my apologies if this should be in the 'anything goes' area.

I was hoping I could get some insight from some of you since it seems like there are knowledgeable people here. To make a long story short, I am thinking of changing career paths somewhat, and would like to know what kind of jobs out there may be for me. I am currently a software developer, programming in C++/C#, and would like to possibly find a job that is a little less 'intensive' and maybe a little more fun. I have always considered myself at least a little artistically inclined and have always had an eye for detail. I am very fascinated by photoshop and graphic design in general although I have virtually no experience in either. As I said, I would like to find something that allows me to be a little more creative. For those of you who do this sort of thing for a living, I would love to hear any bit of info or any advice you have to offer. I am not particular. How did you get started? Do companies hire people just to photoshop images? Are most of you self employed? What are some essential skills? I have a fairly nice resume and know my way around a computer. Would this be a hard transition for me? Generally speaking, how long would it take for me to get some skills up to par? -these sort of questions. Anything you can share will be useful, so I thank you in advance for the help.
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CrimsonRequiem

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnhndldExcptn View Post
Disclaimer: I am fairly new to these forums so hello, and my apologies if this should be in the 'anything goes' area.

I was hoping I could get some insight from some of you since it seems like there are knowledgeable people here. To make a long story short, I am thinking of changing career paths somewhat, and would like to know what kind of jobs out there may be for me. I am currently a software developer, programming in C++/C#, and would like to possibly find a job that is a little less 'intensive' and maybe a little more fun. I have always considered myself at least a little artistically inclined and have always had an eye for detail. I am very fascinated by photoshop and graphic design in general although I have virtually no experience in either. As I said, I would like to find something that allows me to be a little more creative. For those of you who do this sort of thing for a living, I would love to hear any bit of info or any advice you have to offer. I am not particular. How did you get started? Do companies hire people just to photoshop images? Are most of you self employed? What are some essential skills? I have a fairly nice resume and know my way around a computer. Would this be a hard transition for me? Generally speaking, how long would it take for me to get some skills up to par? -these sort of questions. Anything you can share will be useful, so I thank you in advance for the help.
Have you ever considered gaming design? It seems kind of in the middle of what you are describing. Plus I would imagine you could use some of your programing knowledge in this field as well as designing stuff.

If you really want to be a graphic designer that's fine too, just prepare to take a lot of art classes. You don't have to have amazing drawing or painting skills but the classes themselves help you with design and composition in general.

Fun in some sense but prepare to shell out a lot of money for art supplies.

Graphic Design is a lot different than what I originally thought it would be like, and there are so many aspects to it that the word graphic design can mean so many things.

To tell you the truth I've had more than enough of my fair share of painting classes and drawing naked people, which I never thought I would be doing but here I am doing those things.

LoL don't let me steer you away from Art in general just my experience with it so far...and I also heard from our Art department that they plan on making the Graphic Design program a 5 year program instead of the 4 that it is now. Luckily for me I only have to take 1 more semesters worth of classes to graduate. >_<""
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UnhndldExcptn

 
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I have considered game programming, but the problem with that is unfortunatley my location. There are few if any jobs like that around here. I am kind of thinking I want to get out of the hardcore programming altogether. I have also considered web design which could possibly give me a little bit of a creative outlet. Pursuing another degree would be hard for me right now with everything else I have going on, but maybe I'll see if anyone anround here is offering any kind of related certificate. Good luck with your last semester.

Does anyone know if my computer science degree would be applicable to a job in graphic design? Any thoughts on that? Does it not even matter, or is experience more valuable?
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My arts education isn't applicable to my job in hardware engineering, but I seem to muddle on just the same. Like most fields it's your experience that you have to sell. Before you gain that in the real world your sellable experience is your education. IMO and experience that's really all it is. FWIW I spent more nights sleeping in my office doing digital film work than I do working in hardware. That being said, I do understand the need to a creative outlet and going back to that field is always extremely tempting.. maybe after my wife finishes this round in school.. Good luck with your decision!

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PunkRockTuba

 
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Computer science really has no value in graphic design, unless you were working in flash or something that needed to be coded.

Most places dont really have a need for a guy that works in photoshop, because if they need anything done they will have a designer do it. If you really want to get into graphic design, photoshop is the least of your worries. To be honest, I hardly ever use it and when I do its to crop pictures. You really need to concentrate on Illustrator and InDesign, read and look at everything you can regarding typography.

That is just the tip of the iceberg though, to really do it correctly you need some kind of training. Most places really don't have time for somebody that has trained themselves, unless you have some experience and a good portfolio.

If you dont go to any kind of school for it, I would suggest getting a lot of books and reading a lot of blogs.
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I am a freelance graphic designer (for 20 years) and have a degree in design

I would generally say it is a mind set thing, but you obviously crave to something more creative.

How do you think, are you a detailed person or more of a wholly thinker. Precise people tend to go more in to artworking (the production side of design). For example, I am both a designer and a good artworker. My colleague is definitely the artworker type who will criticize people for producing sub standard artwork, while I just feel that if they are creative designers, often they will not have the mindset for all the detail, their focus is on ideas.

Anyway, back to the mindset. Do you daydream a lot, do you often have odd and funny ideas. Do some of your friends often wonder how your mind jumps around and how you managed to come to a subject from a really odd angle. If so, then there is a potential designer in you.

The best designers never go for the obvious idea (like using a picture of a spanner for a logo for a car mechanic). They use logic but it is often emotional, makes sense - but often in an odd way.

The best way, I find when designing is to always try and attack the problem from as many seemingly odd angles as possible. Once the ideas are there the design is about colours and shapes, don't sweat about exact positioning and detail, just play with spaces and patterns (also viewing type, not as words, but shapes to incorporate in to your design helps when learning typography)

If you feel like a bit of an oddball at times, then design is for you. Go for it, but with your programming skills you could really have a great career with web design and especially flash.

Good flash designers are apparently in short supply (in the UK anyway), but consider a general design course rather than a flash specific one.

And good luck, design is about coming up with unique ideas and solutions, so at least you will know that there is always a new challenge waiting for you
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CrimsonRequiem

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnhndldExcptn View Post
I have considered game programming, but the problem with that is unfortunatley my location. There are few if any jobs like that around here. I am kind of thinking I want to get out of the hardcore programming altogether. I have also considered web design which could possibly give me a little bit of a creative outlet. Pursuing another degree would be hard for me right now with everything else I have going on, but maybe I'll see if anyone anround here is offering any kind of related certificate. Good luck with your last semester.

Does anyone know if my computer science degree would be applicable to a job in graphic design? Any thoughts on that? Does it not even matter, or is experience more valuable?
Well I say go ahead and be a Graphic Designer that focuses on Web design. It's fun and I find it kind of relaxing, a lot less stressful than magazine layout for sure. You just have to be organized in your working habits and that will help with file management.

Like others have already said that you probably find some uses of your programing knowledge in Flash more specifically Action Script.
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UnhndldExcptn

 
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Originally Posted by CrimsonRequiem View Post
Well I say go ahead and be a Graphic Designer that focuses on Web design. It's fun and I find it kind of relaxing, a lot less stressful than magazine layout for sure. You just have to be organized in your working habits and that will help with file management.

Like others have already said that you probably find some uses of your programing knowledge in Flash more specifically Action Script.
After thinking about it some, that sounds like a good route to take. At least it may be a good transition while I learn some of the design aspects of the industry. Thanks to all for the input. It is good to get other people's perspectives on things.
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I havent read the whole thread, so I apologise if some of the information is the same..

I am 19, and started playing with basic web design when I was around 12, currently I work for 2 companies as basically the Lead Web Designer and the 'Poster Guy'.

I love my job and the money isnt bad either, but a lot of the job satisfaction comes from the people you work with/for..

If im honest, I always wanted to dabble in programming, I always assumed that anyone could open up photoshop and design a poster.. But it took a pro to make a calculator in C++
(It probably does take a pro to do that.. I cant even manage a hello world application, mainly cause I use Mac's )

But as previously stated, Actionscript may be the way forward for you, I get maybe 2 emails a week offering a Flash Actionscripter £45000 a year, which equates to aroun $86000.

Id love to be on that kind of money, but I dont know actionscript well enough.

Good luck with whatever dude
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talk to the marketing department and design department at the company you work at...

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i just changed my degree last month from architecture over a year in to graphic design after i get my degree i plan on moving to the London and working for louishen...lol wanna hire me...lol

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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnhndldExcptn View Post
Disclaimer: I am fairly new to these forums so hello, and my apologies if this should be in the 'anything goes' area.

I was hoping I could get some insight from some of you since it seems like there are knowledgeable people here. To make a long story short, I am thinking of changing career paths somewhat, and would like to know what kind of jobs out there may be for me. I am currently a software developer, programming in C++/C#, and would like to possibly find a job that is a little less 'intensive' and maybe a little more fun. I have always considered myself at least a little artistically inclined and have always had an eye for detail. I am very fascinated by photoshop and graphic design in general although I have virtually no experience in either. As I said, I would like to find something that allows me to be a little more creative. For those of you who do this sort of thing for a living, I would love to hear any bit of info or any advice you have to offer. I am not particular. How did you get started? Do companies hire people just to photoshop images? Are most of you self employed? What are some essential skills? I have a fairly nice resume and know my way around a computer. Would this be a hard transition for me? Generally speaking, how long would it take for me to get some skills up to par? -these sort of questions. Anything you can share will be useful, so I thank you in advance for the help.
It's no walk in the park to become a graphic designer who get's paid well. Sure you could have minimum experience and schooling and land a position as a production artist at a small print shop, making $12/hour while designing, conceptualizing, preflighting and taking care of customer service. To me, that's not much of a career.

If you want a chance at becoming successful in the industry, you'll have to work really hard. This requires schooling, reading magazines and books, learning pre-production, putting together a portfolio and digital portfolio, then getting the real world experience.

There are positions that deal specifically with photoshop in magazine companies, but you have to be able to transform models into barbie dolls, fast! With your programming experience, but lack of layout and design experience, the path you might look down is game design. There's a wide spectrum to game development and I feel with programming experience, picking up a program like Maya wouldn't be as hard as learning all about graphic design. Good luck!
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UnhndldExcptn

 
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After reading some of the suggestions here, I think I might check out ActionScript and see what that has to offer me. I've seen a few jobs around here that call for flash developers. All I know is that I am almost desparate now to get out of my job. It is sooooooo brain-draining. Thanks to all for the feedback. Oh yeah, so Adobe Flash, is that the standard development environment out there for flash, or are there others? Also, would you shell out the money for that now, or wait until you have learned a little before you commit? I suppose it's all opinionated.

Peace
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CrimsonRequiem

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnhndldExcptn View Post
After reading some of the suggestions here, I think I might check out ActionScript and see what that has to offer me. I've seen a few jobs around here that call for flash developers. All I know is that I am almost desparate now to get out of my job. It is sooooooo brain-draining. Thanks to all for the feedback. Oh yeah, so Adobe Flash, is that the standard development environment out there for flash, or are there others? Also, would you shell out the money for that now, or wait until you have learned a little before you commit? I suppose it's all opinionated.

Peace
Well if you are going to go back to school then maybe you can get a student discount on the Web Design pack that Adobe has to ofer, which includes Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash.

As far as I know Flash is under Adobe now..use to be with Macromedia or something like that.

So buy now and play and learn at the same time.
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yes, Macromedia was bought by Adobe a few years back, and I'd agree whole heartedly with the Web Design pack

mike
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