Skill sets can differ, but some are crucial within the industry. As a graphic designer you will need to have a creative mind, be able to speak confidently in front of large amounts of people, have a structured design process, and at least good at time management. There are a lot of fundamental skills you need to have that will push you and your career further. You don’t want to be a junior designer forever, you need to be able to push your boundaries and explore beyond your comfort zone whilst keeping up to date with the new trends and technologies, otherwise you will be left behind.
Firstly, you need an in depth knowledge of the software that is used within the industry. Now, I had a look around at jobs and their software knowledge requirements and I found that most companies want at least base knowledge in Adobe software like Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. However, if you wanted to aim for a higher position in a company, they would want knowledge on multimedia design software such as Acrobat and Final Cut Pro. I think it’s good to have a wide set of skills, including using traditional and digital means to create graphics. Nobody wants a designer that’s stuck in the same ways.
Now, your knowledge isn’t going to get you anywhere if you have bad social skills. Being a graphic designer you have to be informed as well as being able to converse. Sometimes you will have to pitch and present, maybe even to a large audience, so you have to know how to talk about your work passionately without waffling and/or digressing too much. As well as having a clear vocabulary for speaking, you have to have a basic understanding of literacy and numeracy; nobody is going to use a graphic designer whom has bad grammar and prints the wrong size business cards. You will have to speak to clients over the phone, by email and sometimes, if they’re still living in the 20th century, by fax. You can’t afford to have bad spelling because it makes you look unprofessional and it will affect your clientele.
Organisational skills are fundamental. You could be working on 3 or 4 different briefs at a time, all with different deadlines. You have to know when to prioritise work over your personal life. Being a graphic designer is a 24 hour a day job. There will be some nights where you will have 3 hours sleep because your deadline is in a week, that’s life. However, you can avoid this happening so often if you know when/how to prioritise your work. Or maybe, you’re just a really good at multi-tasking and can work on three different computers at once.
Lastly, you have to be professional. This includes work ethics and communication with clients. In graphic design there is something known as an ‘Account Manager’ and they will be the bridge between you and the client, most of the time. However, if you are working freelance then unless you have your mum answering your calls, you’re the bridge. You have to know whom your client is. If you’re working on a rebranding for a big company, let’s say Barclays, you can’t begin your emails like ‘alright mate, I just need to check a couple things with ya’ you’ll be a laughing stock, no matter how impressive your graphics are. Remember to always have a friendly and approachable manner, your client wants to be able to converse with you, not be scared to call and change a few things. At the end of the day, they’re the one paying your wage. You have to meet their requirements to the best of your ability, and not take criticism too personally if they as to slightly improve a few things.