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A few questions for graphic designers....
11/4/08 7:15:39 PM
ok heres the story im currently still in school and thinking of taking up graphic design when i leave. Located around wester-sydney, but sydney ceter is fine. I have a few questions though:

what type of certificate/level should i am for?
im guessing diploma but not 100% sure?

What schools/universities/tafe to go to?
ive heard of billy blue and Comercial Arts Training College - Based at The Rocks. are these any good?
Also what about tafe, is there a differnce from getting a diploma from tafe then one of those graphic design colleges.

Do any of these places require you to bring a laptop, if so preference to windows or mac?

the average pay for first year graduates?

how hard it is to find work in sydney?

and do people working as graphic designers find it enjoyable and brief tasks you peform each day?

Many Thanks and i hope if provided enough infomation


11/4/08 7:37:58 PM

TAFE offers certificates, but you can also choose to do it at University, and it's fairly common these days. Most Universities will have a bachelor of visual arts (graphic design) Bachelor of computer based art and design, Bachelor of design, or something similiar, go for the one you like the sound of the most also look at the course structure at the university, and what you like the sound of some are better then others

There really isn't much course standardisation yet in graphic design with regards to universities

In the Graphic Desin world Mac is the preference windows is always second fiddle if your university is in anyway serious about it they should have a lab full of Macs. That said it should be possible to get buy using a PC depending on your course structure. I think the only truly Mac specific program these days is final cut pro, but that's more multimedia then graphic design, although Multimedia, and graphic design do tend to overlap each other especially when you come to doing graphic design with relation to the internet.

You'll find you'll do a lot of web based design, and quite a lot less graphic design for standard print media, and signage, etc then you expect

Edited by bobbobson: 11/4/2008 7:43:46 PM


11/4/08 9:57:24 PM

I know a few graphic designers.
The good ones are the ones that went and did it at Uni, mainly due to all the other stuff you learn at Uni.

Mac or PC is fine, Adobe CS products are industry standard and run on both.

My Uni has macs, but I'd actually prefer windows based PC's but I digress.

I'm not sure what the work is like in Sydney, but getting a Uni degree is your best bet all round, because you'll be employable in any related areas too.

Work can be enjoyable, can also be a pain in the ass when you've got a pain in the ass client.

edit: I'm a web developer (designer really, but I'm doing development atm) so that's my stance on it anyway.

Edited by superfireydave: 11/4/2008 09:58:39 PM


12/4/08 4:47:50 PM

Adobes PC software just don't have the same level of development

In a perfect world all things would be equal, but they're not.

Even when it came to multiprocessing Photoshop was multiprocessor enabled on a Mac years before it was on a PC.

Development lags on PC versions vs Mac versions of Adobe products mean that Macs win out, and when the larger majority of design houses out there run on Macs I don't really blame them.

It's funny that even the PC version still has that hideous grey background


12/4/08 4:55:42 PM
thanks for all the info guys it helps alot. So pretty much ur saying go to uni? so Uni is better then a graphic design skool..


12/4/08 9:42:38 PM

LOL guys.

Zan, wait for some more responses before you decide.. namely some graphic/web designers with afew years experience that are on these forums to respond.

What kind of career exactly are you wanting? One in designing for print?
If so, yes Go do a Diploma In graphic Design.
If you want to persue web or multimedia these are different courses.
The Diploma in GD is very design for print focused.

Uni/private collages vs tafe really only come down to one main thing.

If you can only afford around $2000.00 then I strongly recommend tafe.
Then again if you want to do it for free? go through centerlink and get an exemption of payment for tafe.. I didnt pay a damn thing. :P
(your in the west, I strongly recommend Kigswood Tafe as its the Design center of sydney with regards to TAFE. NDAC. They have a small offset and digital press setup, they also have an in house design studio giving students the opportunity to get some industry experience with real clients.

They use macs, Again, very print based. No you dont need to take any hardware with you.

If you are willing to fork out $10,000+ by all means, go to a private collage. I would suggest a private collage over Uni if you are going down this path.

The other thing with regard to Tafe vs Uni specifically... is practical vs theory.. TAFE is much more hands on and doing instead of talking. No such thing as lecturers in tafe.

Average pay for a first year grad as a jr designer in sydney, SHOULD be around $35k

I say SHOULD because thats what it is statistically speaking.
But dont be surprised if someone tries to get you to work for 25-30k
But dont knock anything back, its a flood in the market out there.
You may find it 6-12 months before you get a full time job..try to get contract work/freelance work in the mean time through agencies.

If we didn't find it enjoyable, we wouldn't be doing it.. so yes..it can be challenging but yes the allowance to be creative and get paid for it is an enjoyable thing.

Zan doesnt need a BA. in fact Zan doesnt even need to be qualified to be a graphic designer. Just raw talent, skill and knowledge. Theres nothing wrong with being self taught.

Theres one very definitive reason why Macs dominate the PRINT based industry in design. Printers. Design houses use macs because this is what printers need. Font file types and print file formats are a primary reason.

Zan will find labs full of pc's when it comes to web design/development courses without a mac in sight.

I beg to differ with regards to The adobe suite across mac and pc formats, Im not sure your meaning with regards to the development differences. Pcs have no problems with The adobe suite. As for their "hidious grey background" this is a windows interface thing. and has nothing to do with adobe.

"The good ones are the ones that went and did it at Uni, mainly due to all the other stuff you learn at Uni."

Opposed to The ones that went to tafe that according to you are shit designers because they didnt go to uni?

Thats just a really BAD assumption man.
I went to tafe :D
Im a shit hot fucking designer :P

"getting a Uni degree is your best bet all round, because you'll be employable in any related areas too. "

So your telling him if he doesnt do uni, he wont be employable in any other related areas other that GD?

Im a web designer, An illustrator, A photographic retoucher, I do airbrushing, I dabble in 3d modeling and texturing.

I went to tafe and did a diploma in graphic design for print.
I Where I am now is because of where my first job started out.

Where am I?
Im at Generic Publications
Advertising firm for Harvey Norman Holdings.

harvey norman ofis

And about 20 other websites on the accounts.

I occasionally do the press ads and catalogue work but primarily im in the web department working on the sites.

One thing I want to make very clear for you Zan, dont let people bullshit you into thinking you need a diploma,certificates, qualifications before anyone will take you seriously.

Any employer thats not an ignorant fucker with half a brain will employ you not based on your education, but what they see in your portfolio, Your proof of skill and talent. all the rest is bullshit.

When first starting out your not expected to have any industry experience.. so its your portfolio that will get you that first break.

That is the be all and end all. its that simple.

The course is not to get that peice of paper, the course is to get you trained up to know what you need to know in order to unlock your potential. And most of this will come out by doing.

The peice of paper just proves you did get some training and your not bullshitting.. but if your work is good.. the piece of paper is just empasising what your already showing them.

After already working as a web designer for 3 years, I decided to go do a diploma in Web design/development. For the simple fact that I needed to lern back end development because clients were asking for websites requiring back end development.

I did the full 2 years, and I didnt get my diploma, I failed the course becuase I didnt do all my assignments.
whats more.. I didnt care. why? because thats not why I did the course. I did what I wanted to do and got out of it what I wanted and chose what I wanted and what I didnt want to lern.

I didnt need the peice of paper to get me a job, I needed the knowledge to meet the needs of my clients. its just that simple.

Edited by moofactory: 12/4/2008 09:50:44 PM

Quote by Ben Mansill
I've always waited for the day here when we talk about anal sex with animated Disney lions.

12/4/08 10:17:08 PM

Moo Factory, I am not a designer by any means, far from it...

My direct career at the moment is Accountancy.

My dad went through University and is A BCBAD (Bachelor of computer based art and design)

I'm self taught, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and some Director, page setting in quark, and then there's the web side of things... self taught in HTML, and WYSIWG editors such as Dream Weaver.

I can use all of the above proficiently, all be it that it's a hobby I do have a fair amount of idea of what exactly I'm talking about.

$35k sounds about right in terms of what you'd earn straight out of which ever school you choose to go to.

I beg to differ regarding university, and not being hands on... As I said there isn't really a standardised course structure at universities yet as it's still a fairly new subject matter at University. One University may be largely theoretical, another may be largely hands on, as others have said university teaches you lots of things, whether or not you need to understand Fibonacci to be a good designer is another matter all together.

As for Macs vs PC's re: development, this is 100% the truth, I'm fairly well versed on the matter. I've been around designers for god knows how long, I'm 24 now, it's probably the best part of 7 or 8 years. I am 100% self taught if I wanted to I could probably get a job in a design house somewhere, I haven't really chosen to investigate it however.

You are right regarding print houses, printers, fonts, etc, but that's not to say that the development of things such as Photoshop doesn't lead the way on the Mac nore that it doesn't run faster, and more stable on a Mac.

I should say that I am in no way a pure Mac advocate, I run a PC, i've owned Macs in the past, but the real world tests are out there and they back up my point.

As for getting a job without qualifications, you should be able to, but as with every other job these days quite a lot of businesses want every qualification under the sun before they'll even look at your work.

I am a good designer all be it that i've never been bothered to put a portfolio together, but give me a task, and I'll be able to do it as well as the next man, and dog.

I agree, you don't need the qualifications, but quite a lot of employers like to see them

Personally my only problem with design is that I'm not really artistic enough, give me something to work with, and I'll come up with with something. Tell me to do something from scratch without any idea of what you want... that's where I hit a brick wall

Edited by bobbobson: 12/4/2008 10:31:32 PM


13/4/08 1:49:53 AM
Both of you raise good points, I would recommend trying out a cert course at tafe first Zan, as it sounds like you aren't 100% sure on taking it as the rest of your life. Design will basically govern your whole life once you get started - its a very clicky thing. You get designers who think they are rockstars, but in the end, nobody really cares about what you do, or who you are, outside of that circle. But just be sure as it will be all you do for a long time.

Alternate pathways are a great way to get the skills. As Moo said, you cant get by with skill and talent, but dont forget - nobody is born with it. Learning from a great school with good teachers is the best way, next to doing it on the job.

Alternate pathways as I said is basically starting small with a tafe course, and if you like it, most places can offer you a fast track into a uni course afterwards. The added plus being some course will do 1 year cert as tafe and let you jump into 2nd year of the uni course, saving a buttload of cash. The teaching is generally a bit better in tafe, in terms of contact hours, and its easier to speak with and get advice from the teachers. Make sure you use them!

Apart form that the other way is on the job experience which will push you skills up massively (not talent - apart from the practice). But yeah, obviously you got to learn some shit first. I worked for a year as a multimedia designer and learnt so much more in one year than ever before. Im now studying graphic design instead because well, i just like it more - taking the alternative pathways as I mentioned above.

Also in terms of uni degrees - ALOT of places wont take yr 12 students unless you really show something great, as they just havent matured enough - most are mature age. Something to think about.

Oh yeah, attend night courses this year to boost up your folio too. Plenty of places offer folio building courses. Will help for interviews. Read design mags, dont ignore the history of art etc etc


13/4/08 10:08:49 AM

Moo's right,
and then he's not completely right.

A uni degree makes you employable in other areas, not just graphic design.
You get knowledge about related fields and you're usually just more "tech-savvy" if you've done a Uni course, you've also got a better knowledge of how to deal with people etc.

Uni's not just lectures moo, you have these things called "tutes" and "pracs" which are both only hands on =P The lectures are about the theory, which you go to learn, then you put it into practice in tutes.

""The good ones are the ones that went and did it at Uni, mainly due to all the other stuff you learn at Uni."

Opposed to The ones that went to tafe that according to you are shit designers because they didnt go to uni? "
I never said the others were bad, but the good ones I know went/are at Uni. Why? Because if I talk to them about a program, or I talk to them about engineering theory most of them don't go "huh?". From a developers viewpoint, being able to talk to someone who's an artist on your team and have them understand you is wonderful. Having to break it down and hope they understand what you're talking about is not.
I appreciate it's not a requirement for being a graphic designer, but it's fucking useful.

The main reason I recommend Uni is because I'm actually finding my degree a lot more useful then a tafe course would have been.
The fast track thing Futon mentions above is a good idea too. Start at Tafe, if you don't like it - cool, if you do - you can credit what you do at Tafe for uni subjects and start in 2nd year.

I'd strongly debate whether teachers are better in Tafe, but the contact hours for Uni lecturers are usually horrible. Your tutors on the other hand are generally much more approachable.

You'll also should end Uni having a pretty extensive portfolio, which is always a good thing.

"I agree, you don't need the qualifications, but quite a lot of employers like to see them "
I'd also argue that a qualification shows you are able to do a certain task properly, or is proof you have knowledge. I don't see the point in failing a course you're probably paying for, if I didn't want the degree I'd go teach myself some stuff (even though I'd never approach what I've learnt at Uni).

Basically, do some research.
I reckon you'll probably end up at Tafe because that seems to be what most people who ask on these forums do. I think that's a silly decision purely because of the scope that Tafe has, and the scope that Uni has. Once you get past the first year courses (which actually impart some decent knowledge on you, although you wont realise it until 2 years later) you move onto much more interesting stuff and should get a major industry project (which can DEFINITELY be added to a portfolio) in your last year, or industry placement - both of which will almost guarantee you get a job straight out of Uni hopefully earning a little more then 35k a year fulltime :| (luck plays a part too I'll admit).


14/4/08 11:07:12 PM

Quote by moofactory

Do you think of the future or just live in the now? I think its great you're happy with what you have achieved but where do you go from here?

Edited by anaesthetics: 14/4/2008 11:08:32 PM


15/4/08 12:48:12 PM

Quote by anaesthetics
Quote by moofactory

Do you think of the future or just live in the now? I think its great you're happy with what you have achieved but where do you go from here?

I move on to another business that pays better.
Then eventually move up to a lead designer position, then creative director.

at least thats what I could do. I never want to be a creative director. So probibly lead designer.

Some place more creative, doing feature film promotional material.

Quote by Ben Mansill
I've always waited for the day here when we talk about anal sex with animated Disney lions.

24/4/08 1:18:00 PM
thanks guys, uve helped me alot. i live about 15-20 minutes from kinsgwood tafe, so i am looking at that as a good place to start.


24/4/08 1:34:55 PM

Quote by zan777
thanks guys, uve helped me alot. i live about 15-20 minutes from kinsgwood tafe, so i am looking at that as a good place to start.

Its probibly the most matured facility with regards to Design for the printing industry. You will have some benifits there that you wont find in other tafes let alone Universities.

Im speaking about equipment and facilities.
Namely their offset printhouse and Freelance industry studio.

Edited by moofactory: 24/4/2008 01:35:24 PM

Quote by Ben Mansill
I've always waited for the day here when we talk about anal sex with animated Disney lions.

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