Are You Cut Out for Graphic Design School?

Deciding to go to graphic design school is a great choice – if you do it for the right reasons. The truth is: no matter what you choose to do with your life, you should enjoy what it is that you do. Graphic design is art intensive and requires constant attention to details that most people wouldn’t think about. However, graphic design school is all about those details – from how the slightest change in ambient color can affect the mood of an ad to exactly how many ways you can manipulate a photo with Adobe Photoshop. In short, if you don’t enjoy it – you probably won’t stick to it.

What does it mean to be “cut out” for graphic design school? In an interview with’s Nancy Solomon, successful graphic designer Pon Angara said this about his choice to graduate as an engineer and enroll in college again as a graphic design student:

“I’ve always enjoyed creating art pieces that were visually compelling and packed with meaning. In fact, my formal training in fine arts started during my elementary years. My college degrees are in industrial engineering, industrial design and graphic design. My background in art and science became strong assets in my design work.” – Read the whole interview here.

It’s worth noting that Angara also told Solomon, “The more well-rounded your education is, the better. Design is not just about art. It’s about being able to solve a problem. In the real world, problems have multiple sides.”

Back in 2007, Kristy Pennino penned a humorous article outlining how to know that you aren’t cut out for graphic design school. In nearly all of them, she cites a general lack of interest in the core aspects of the profession. You can read them all at Five Signs You Should Not Major in Graphic Design, but as a preview:

“1. You’d rather be surfing Facebook or playing online games during a lecture or presentation or you can’t stop web surfing during class breaks. Let’s face it, it’s not really the teacher’s lecture that has you so bored because you’re bored out of your mind when doing homework for graphics courses as well …” (Read more.)

So, you’ve decided that graphic design school is right for you. What can you do to make sure you get into the school of your choice? does a good job outlining the prep-work with 7 Tips for Getting Into Graphic Design School, starting with:

“1. Have a Versatile, but Focused Portfolio

As a graphic designer it is important to have a versatile Graphic Design portfolio, at least early one. The point of design school is to figure out what area of design you like best, such as web design, magazine design, print design and so on, but when applying it can be better to show a general portfolio. You should always show what you do best, just don’t have all website designs or all magazine spreads. Mix it up and show you are multi-talented and not a one trick design pony!

2. Show Basic Art Skills

When applying to art school its important to have some fine art in your portfolio, even if you are a designer, because it shows you have a solid foundation in art. Drawings are the most common item featured in graphic design portfolios, followed by paintings. Just make sure they are actually good drawings and paintings and don’t add too many. Remember design is what you are there for, but its good to show you have solid basic art skills….” Read all 7 Tips here.