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Resources for High School Students to Learn Graphic Design

Today’s teens are exposed to new and improving technology all the time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t value creativity and the arts any less. There are plenty of resources for high school students to independently learn graphic design, which is a great way to combine these two skills and prepare for a fascinating career later in life.

Learning graphic design in high school can provide you with many important skills that you’ll need post-graduation. Learning the fundamentals of graphic design can help build valuable skills, not only for a career but for personal development as well. Becoming aware of current trends at an earlier age will help you become more aware of how and when things change, which would be a desirable skill in the job market regardless of the industry you choose to enter. 

By taking the time when you’re young to learn the basics and discover your unique style, you’ll be that much further ahead of your peers when it comes to entering the job market. Many profitable careers require a background in graphic design, but learning these skills can enhance your life in other ways.

Books and Online Resources

There are several books on the market to help you learn graphic design, and many are currently recommended by professionals in the industry. You can invest in these books if you currently have the means, but checking them out at your school or local library is a simple way to keep costs down while you explore graphic design. Of course, these are not the only options out there, but this list covers a combination of helpful material that will certainly help you on your way:

  1. How to… by Michael Bierut: This book features over thirty different projects of Michael Beirut, a prolific graphic designer who has worked with clients like Billboard Magazine, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Harley Davidson. Beirut discusses his inspiring designs and creative process from beginning to end. 
  1. Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler: If you want to know how a brand is established from conception to launch, this book may be of particular interest. It also includes helpful tips from current branding experts.
  1. Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers by Ellen Lupton: This book uses essays written by marginalized graphic designers to describe how the world of graphic design can become more inclusive. It discusses the dynamics of mentorships, how the hiring process can often be different for minority groups trying to enter the field, and how to combat workplace discrimination.
  1. The Art of Color by Johannes Itten: Exploring the theories of how colors impact viewers both visually and emotionally is crucial knowledge for any graphic designer. This book uses various works of art and famous advertisements to illustrate how color impacts design.
  1. Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles by Cees W. de Jong: This may be unexpected, but selecting a font for your designs is a real art that is influenced by many factors. This book details the transformation of printed words over hundreds of years. 

Books are a wonderful resource to get a solid foundation of understanding in graphic design. However, you cannot begin a career through books alone. One of the many benefits of graphic design is that it’s an extremely hands-on process; you have to learn by doing. Research shows thatproject-based learninghelps people retain information quickly and efficiently. To that end, interested individuals can access free online tutorials of basic graphic design projects to get started. These include everything from logo design to creating video thumbnails for social media. There are also graphic design forums you can join online. Here, you can share your ideas with other designers, collaborate on projects, and learn how to receive and implement constructive feedback into your work.

Graphic Design Classes for High Schoolers

If you’re a high school student who is already interested in learning more about graphic design, you may be interested in NextGen Bootcamp’s graphic design courses for high schoolers

They have in-person graphic design classes available in New York City as well as virtual graphic design courses, which can be taken remotely from anywhere in the world. 

With NextGen Bootcamp, there is a Graphic Design Summer Camp offered in-person and remotely. This course covers Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator and helps students build a portfolio of the work they build in class. The portfolio can include projects like logos, book covers, and event posters that can be used to showcase your work. Regardless of how you engage with the material, you will have access to expert instructors. Classes at NextGen are also kept small to ensure that students get the attention they need to be successful in the course. 

NextGen Bootcamp also offers a Web Design Summer Course with an in-person and live online option. Both programs contain 50 hours of coursework and teach students to design and implement their own completely functional website. Having a personal website can be an impressive addition to applications for scholarships, internships, and college admissions. It’s also a great place to showcase your portfolio of work to potential employers.

Graphic Design Career Paths

Having a graphic design career means that you will help create advertisements, logos, and any other visual media to help communicate the message of a brand or a company. Graphic Designers also can work for a specific agency or freelance to work with a lot of different people. Their average annual salary is roughly $49,000 per year. As more and more industries are embracing the digital space, Graphic Designers have had to shift their focus toward designing images that will translate best online. Below, you’ll find more information about other career paths that require a similar background and might offer growth opportunities.

There is a great deal of overlap between web design and graphic design; often, smaller businesses and startups prefer to hire someone who can do both instead of paying two separate salaries. Virtually every business across all industries needs the help of web designers to get their business noticed by consumers. On average, a web designer can make about $44,000 per year. Your income can increase significantly if you become a senior web designer or a design director as you progress through your career. 

A background in graphic design can also lead to a career in motion graphics design. Generally, you can see a Motion Graphics Designer’s work in places like YouTube, social media, and even the opening credits of television shows and movies. With a motion graphics background, you may be able to find employment as a 2D or 3D Animator. Depending on which part of the country you live in, these jobs generally earn around $64,000 annually, though some can earn up to about $95,000 per year. 

Learn more in these courses

  • Graphic Design Classes for High School Students
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