10 Ways to get started in graphic design

Looking to get started in graphic design? Check out 10 tips on how to get the ball rolling.

10 Ways to get started in graphic design

By: Carmen DeCampo

Graphic design is a very popular field, and it’s expanding year upon year. The combination of creativity, communication skills, and knowledge of current trends appeals to those who thrive on challenges.

However, getting your foot in the door can be tricky.

There are many methods to make this process easier. We’ve put together a short guide to give you a leg up into the industry and get started in graphic design. InFocus Film School Graphic and Digital Design Program | Learn More


1. Do Your Research Before You Get Started in Graphic Design

Becoming a graphic designer takes a lot of hard work, along with loads of creativity and passion. Before committing to a career, it’s important to do some research so you know what you’re getting into.

There are many people who initially choose a career path focused on something they enjoy doing. However, they may end up unhappy as their interest/hobby transforms from pleasure to pressure.

If you love art and design, graphic design may be the perfect choice. It’s advisable, nonetheless, to take your time before making any concrete decisions. How to Get Started in Graphic Design

2. Choose The Right Course

It’s very difficult to get your foot in the door in any career without some sort of formal qualification. There are thousands of courses to choose from with graphic design—online and offline.

Some people can break into the industry without having studied design, but they are few and far between. That’s not to say experience isn’t important, but it’s a lot easier to get started with a solid grounding in theory and principles.

Doing a course that combines theory with practical experience is an excellent way to get started in graphic design. Understanding theory and putting it into practice are fundamental steps in pursuing a career in design.

3. Nurture Your Creativity

It goes without saying that to excel in any artistic field requires creativity. Design is leaning towards the digital realm. The field is beginning to emphasize skills like web design, UX and UI design (User Experience and User Interface), and online marketing.

When you’re getting started, practicing your creativity in all these fields is essential.

How to Get Started in Graphic Design

4. Get To Grips With Software

As we mentioned, graphic design has shifted towards digital media. Thus, a thorough understanding of design software is essential for newcomers to the industry.

Even more important than understanding, though, is the ability to use that knowledge in growing your creative skill-set. Getting started as a graphic designer isn’t easy. While knowledge of software is good, experience and curiosity are valuable beyond comparison.

A graphic design course and/or qualification is often the best path when it comes to combining theoretical knowledge with practical skills in software like Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop.

5. Learn Design Principles – Observe And Practice

Whether you pursue a formal qualification or plan on teaching yourself, having a comprehensive knowledge of design principles is a prerequisite.

Look at the work of other designers for inspiration and then decide why they appeal to you. The best way to understand concepts like space, color, and balance is to see how they work in practice. You need to know what role images and visuals play, how text and font set a tone, and how color use influences emotions and evokes a response.

Analyzing a design you like can make it evident how the use of different elements evokes different feelings and reactions. Understanding the application of theory is what helps a designer develop and perfect their own style. Knowing what works, why it works, and how to use it creatively is crucial.

6. Self-Brand As A Freelancer

If you’re just starting out in graphic design, you’ll most likely find yourself facing many decisions: where to study (or whether to study at all), what specialization to pursue and more.

Research has shown that the vast majority—around 90%—of graphic designers work as freelancers. Therefore, every new entrant into the industry is facing fierce competition.

It’s never too early to start building yourself up as a professional with your own brand and style.

Looking at others’ work for inspiration only goes so far. Perfecting your own creative approach is what will ultimately make you a sought-after design professional. Apart from that, starting to freelance early is a great way to gain experience and add to your portfolio.

7. Build A Portfolio

Having a portfolio is a must for anyone working in creative industries.

For a graphic designer in the 2020s, a portfolio must include work that demonstrates a high level of skill and a thorough understanding of design principles. As we mentioned earlier: building an impressive portfolio begins early in a designer’s career. You can bolster your portfolio with any and every freelance assignment you complete.

Even if you have yet to finish your studies, laying the foundations of your career is something that you must give attention to. The keystone of which is your portfolio. It is important to you put yourself “out there” as a designer. Every job will depend on convincing potential clients that you have the knowledge, talent, and creative flair to deliver what they’re after.

How to Get Started in Graphic Design

8. Seek Out And Welcome Feedback

Not many people who enjoy being criticized. However, there are some careers in which taking feedback is a prerequisite.

Graphic design is, undoubtedly, one of them. 

Success as a designer, therefore, requires a thick skin and the open-mindedness to see your own weak spots. As well, a desire to put in the necessary effort to improve them. 

9. Gain Experience – Any Experience

The unfortunate reality is that almost everyone only wants to employ people with experience. Alas, this may leave younger designers between a rock and a hard place.

How do you get experience when nobody wants to hire someone without it?

This might mean doing some design projects for NPOs which, unfortunately, are not financially profitable but look great on your resume.

How to Get Started in Graphic Design

10. Learn To Communicate And Collaborate

Your ability to make connections with people is a skill necessary to get started in graphic design. Although graphic design involves a lot of creativity and individual effort, carving out a career in the field demands the ability to communicate and collaborate with all sorts of people.

Working for clients and working with clients are an integral part of the design field. As soon as you start focusing on graphic design, it is wise to start to practice networking and seek out clients.

It isn’t easy to get started in graphic design, but it is rewarding. Especially if you’re following your passion.


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five benefits of film production training

Looking to break into the film industry? Here are five benefits of film production training.

five benefits of film production training

By: Sophia Lin

As they say, the hardest part about getting started… is getting started. While it this may be true, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. As a beginner in the field, there are some critical steps you can take to give you a running start. Continue reading and set yourself on the path of success.

InFocus Film School Film Program

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That’s exactly what we’re here to get to the bottom of. What are those steps? How should you approach them? What should you be focusing on? These questions, and many more, form the basis of the list below. All the way from choosing film production training courses to getting acquainted with the job market, this list will cover all the bases when it comes to taking your first step in the field of film production.

1. Paths in the Industry

Benefits of Film Production Training

Before you even dip your toe into the industry, your first step should be to know your options. In this case, it would entail researching and getting to know all the different, diverse paths in the film industry. Don’t forget that researching extends to initiating informational interviews, attending Q&As, and the like. Consider each of your possible directions. Additionally, assess these paths in terms of your interests, strengths, weaknesses, and your level of experience as well.


As someone new to film production training, chances are there are some niche positions in film that you may not have been aware of. This is your chance to search them all out. The more thoroughly you conduct your research, the more well-informed your career decisions will be. Start with the more prominent roles like directors and producers, then work your way towards the lesser-known elements of the production team, like the editors, production designers, and music supervisors.


2. The Job Market

It certainly doesn’t end there. The next component of your initial research should involve the job market. This should include current job opportunities, future outlook, and even past changes. Additionally, be sure to look at the various ways of entering the industry. Each of the many possible paths have slightly dissimilar structures when it comes to getting hired. While those working as producers may need to apply to a production company, those working as directors may have to tackle the film festival circuit. Not to mention, most positions will have differing requirements when it comes to the level of film production training required.


At the moment, a significant consideration is the rise of streaming services. In both the film and TV world, this has caused jobs to multiply — and spawned countless new positions as well. Increased demand for content has undoubtedly changed the landscape, with the industry continually welcoming more diverse stories and perspectives. The advancement of technology and the unprecedented accessibility to filmmaking are also key factors impacting the job market today.


3. Courses & Film Production Training

Benefits of Film Production Training

One tried and true move known to pay dividends is taking courses and obtaining formal film production training. Most often, this is done at a film school, where students can be surrounded by industry-experienced professors and top-of-the-line filmmaking resources. For those looking to jump right into the industry, film school doesn’t have to be the hefty commitment it appears to be. In fact, there is a wide range of programs that are able to cover all you’ll need to know. You will learn technical, creative, and analytical skills needed to excel in the film industry in just one year.


Similarly, other short online courses or week-long boot camps can also be fantastic options. Aside from the benefits of high-quality film education, courses and training can equip you with soft skills as well. These can take years to develop and feel out on your own, including assets like effective leadership, productive collaboration, and clear communication. Often, it is these skills, not the technical know-how, that will make or break a career in film.


4. Gear & Equipment

Benefits of Film Production Training

Getting your hands on the right cameras and gear may seem somewhat self-evident. The reality, however, isn’t necessarily so easy. To begin, it is integral to note what the industry standard is for your field. For instance, when it comes to cameras, ARRI, RED, and Panavision are some of the main ones — be aware that there often only isn’t just one standard brand.


For beginners in the field, however, professional gear is almost always too expensive. The key here is to instead focus on mastering the craft of filmmaking. Student films are typically made on a small budget, so learning to make the most out of what you have is the best way to go. These days, a good starting point would be phones — which now boast quality cameras — and a cheaper lighting set-up. The exception would be if you were enrolled in film school or film production training courses; this would automatically give you easy access to a host of professional equipment.


5. Professional Networking

Finally, no list could be complete without mentioning the element at the centre of the film industry, networking. Job opportunities often travel through word of mouth and every film project being a team effort. Thus, the necessity of an expansive professional network is a no-brainer. Luckily, there are tons of places to start! Volunteering on sets, helping out at local film festivals, and attending filmmaking events require little to no experience, which make it perfect for those starting out to meet new people.


Beyond that, the options are plentiful as well. Enrolling in film school, for example, would immediately situate you within a community of like-minded, hard-working filmmakers. Similarly, joining online forums and social media groups is a great idea. Local forums and groups gets your name out there and puts you right in the film scene. Ultimately, the goal here is to meet future collaborators and find interesting projects and positions to sign onto. As your network grows, so will your filmmaking experience and skill.


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How to conduct a documentary interview

Wondering how to conduct an extraordinary documentary interview? Here are 6 documentary interview tips from award-winning documentary filmmaker Julia Ivanova.

How to conduct a documentary interview

By: Sophia Lin

Making a successful, compelling documentary is no easy task. It takes a creative idea, dutiful planning, and an undeniably unique voice.  The backbone of a documentary film are effective documentary interviews. Having the right subjects and engaging answers are what makes a great documentary film. Documentary interviews are what gives a film that intangible quality that makes it resound with thousands, or maybe even millions, of audiences. 


No one knows this better than acclaimed documentary filmmaker Julia Ivanova. Having stepped into the doc world no less than twenty years ago, her work has received recognition around the world. Focusing on topics of love, family, and cultural differences, Ivanova’s documentaries have screened at Sundance and IDFA. Her 2011 film Family Portrait in Black and White winning Best Canadian Feature at the Hot Docs Festival. As well, her most recent work, Pipeline in Paradise, was one of four Canadian films showcased at the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film.


As we go ahead with these proven techniques and tips for a great documentary interview, Ivanova’s insights and insider knowledge will be featured at every step of the way. From considering the backdrop to the ordering of questions, we’ll be getting down to the nitty-gritty of interviewing, with a master of her craft sharing her secrets.

How to Conduct a Documentary Interview


1. Conduct a Pre-Interview

How to Conduct a Documentary Interview

“Be consciously on the lookout for subjects who are expressive, relaxed, and love the attention of the camera,” says Ivanova. “These are the people who will come alive on-screen! Those who speak coherently and with emotion are the ones who will give you more, and can come across better in voice-overs as well.”


Pre-interviews can be beneficial for multiple reasons. The first being an additional chance for you to decide if the subject’s right for you. It’ll be an opportunity to hear how they speak, as well as get to know them a bit more through conversation. On the flip side, it too allows for your subject to get used to you and your interviewing style. This preview will make for a more comfortable, familiar environment when filming begins. 


“Another consideration is to seek subjects who speak in shorter sentences; this can help with editing and clarity,” she adds.

2. Prepare Complex Questions

How to Conduct a Documentary Interview

“You should aim to phrase your questions in a way that allows more to be said or a story to be told. Questions can be started in ways such as, ‘can you explain’, ‘could you please share’, and ‘what is your opinion’,” advises Ivanova. “And be sure to have done lots of research before you prepare your questions. Especially if you’re interviewing an expert in their field.”


A rule of thumb is that a great answer arises from a great question. As such, asking nuanced, layered questions allows for those same important qualities to be reflected in your subject’s response. Avoiding yes-no questions is a must, and instead, strive for questions that are open-ended and perhaps more challenging, ones that demand reflection and welcome vulnerability. The more complex the questions, the more engaging the documentary interview.  


3. Consider the Backdrop of the Documentary Interview

“Try to avoid putting subjects up against a wall, as it’s much more ideal to have a depth of field,” Ivanova suggests. “I sometimes aim to film subjects as they’re living life. Almost as if they were caught in the middle of doing something. This would mean using their own environment as the backdrop.”


When it comes to the environment you’d like to place your subject in, the options truly are limitless. There’s a lot to consider. Lighting, for example, is one aspect to think about, with the main choices being either to use natural light or a three-point lighting set-up. Next, remember that the backdrop can and should add to the story, or at least fit into it in a way that makes sense. Including meaningful, personal backdrops can be one way to make your documentary richer and more immersive.


She continues, “In terms of lighting, I prefer to use natural light. Bringing your own light makes your subjects feel like you’re making a film, which breaks the spell. Not to mention, they get pretty hot under those lights too!”

4. Begin Open-Ended


Something that is not to be overlooked is the ordering of documentary interview questions. However, it’s almost always the best idea to start open-ended. These questions help encompass a wide variety of topics, aiding you with choosing which areas to build upon for your specific, personal questions down the line. For example, you can ask about the subject’s work background, recent daily experiences, and other less taxing, perhaps light-hearted topics that can give them a chance to open up.


“I like to start with questions that are not so important. My subjects can warm up to me and feel more relaxed. Next, I try to quickly lead into my important questions. Some subjects tire easily in front of the camera and I want to catch them before that happens,” Ivanova says, elaborating. “At this point, they’ll feel more comfortable with me and still have the energy needed to form passionate and dynamic answers.”


5. Lead Into More Specific Questions

How to Conduct a Documentary Interview

As the interview progresses, I always ask questions that build on my prior questions,” states Ivanova.


After crossing that initial barrier of getting to know one another, it becomes time for the subject’s individuality to come out. Finding that comes as a result of complex and personalized prompts. Meaning, prompts that speak solely to your subject’s unique perspective and experiences. It’s a fine line to tread — keep your questions open-ended but gradually narrow the scope of questioning.


She adds, “I also love to give some of my questions to another person in the shot and have them ask my subject. This creates a conversation that I can visually capture. Often, I try to spend time with my subjects too, outside of the interview. I’ve found that they start to feel my energy and become willing to share their story with me.”


6. Stay Flexible & Allow For Irrelevance


A great documentary interview must have a balance of preparation and spontaneity. This means, in addition to researched, carefully worded questions, you also have to let go. Follow the conversation where your subject takes you, embrace moments of irrelevance, and build off of their answers. The most insightful and the most candid answers can come from going off-script, so always expect the unexpected.


“One tip I have for prompting a natural, authentic conversation is to hide your list of questions. Take that piece of paper and try to memorize it. Put it under your seat, inside your jacket, what have you. Now, give your undivided attention to your subject,” Ivanova recommends.


“This makes it feel like a real conversation,” she explains, “not like it’s your job to interview them. Now, the subject can feel your genuine interest and offer you answers that reflect that.”


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