Creative impressions

  • Education
  • Sunday, 01 Jan 2012

Besides the ability to draw, a graphic designer needs to have time management, curiosity, and above all, passion.

A PASSION for art, photography and creative visualisation led graphic designer Musaddique Yahya down a natural path to his current industry, he says.

However, life as a graphic designer is not always a walk in the park. Besides gruelling deadlines, one has to deal with rejection, unrealistic expectations, and the stress of constantly churning out new ideas.

But Musaddique says it is all worth it if one has passion for the craft.

“What began with passion is kept alive by passion, even with dozens of obstacles and hardships,” explains Musaddique.

“Sometimes when a project comes up, you just have to brace yourself to work around the clock to get it done,” he adds.

He also says that the main draw of the job for him is getting the message across to the audience.

“As a graphics designer, knowing how to use the tools of your trade is a key element. With those tools, you could set a prank, surprise and captivate your audience, no matter who they are,” says Musaddique.

After learning the ropes of in-house design at a hotel in Johor Baru by designing brochures, menus and other related print media, Musadiqque landed himself a job as an in-house graphic designer at TuneTalk.

The job provides new and bigger challenges for Musaddique, but he says he gladly accepts them for the opportunity to express himself through design.

“I love art. I appreciate it in all its forms, be it simple doodles or elaborate graffiti. Art can’t be confined into a single form and can be expressed through any medium,” he says.

My job involves ...

... designing print and web content, which is the cornerstone of any graphic designer’s job responsibility. However, the job scope may branch out to areas such as photography which requires a hefty bit of multi-tasking.

But the biggest part of his job, regardless of what project I am working on, is coming up with ideas.

Churning out lots of ideas consistently — that’s the job. Every time we are given a project, we have to brainstorm and discuss a lot in order to visualise the concepts given to us.

We are expected to have a stream of ideas in order to provide different variations of the concept.

Quite the opposite of a firm-based graphics designer, an in-house graphics designer has to adhere to a company’s templates or branding guidelines and ensure their work reflects the company’s image, he added.

“Of course it’s just as important to be able to come up with creative ways within those guidelines to showcase the brand to the masses.

Sometimes subtlety works. At other times it has to be outrageous. With TuneTalk, one of the key guidelines is red, the colour associated with the brand and its parent company AirAsia.

My morning starts with ...

... checking my e-mail for requests from my supervisors and the company’s other teams.

After that, I check for comments on my previous tasks, or “jobs”, to see if my work got a positive or negative response.

Once a project is handed to me, either verbally or through e-mail, the nature of my job branches away from the usual nine to five.

The pace changes gears pretty fast, because to come up with great creative content can take a lot of time and reworking to eventually get the “right” product.

So once I get a project, my day proceeds to brainstorming sessions with the team and then we’re off to a sketchboard to start doodling our impressions of what people want.

After that, it’s time to build the product, which can be a poster or a billboard, or even an Internet banner according to the specifications everyone agrees on after going through the initial sketches.

To qualify, you need ...

The job relies heavily on your creative talent, artisitic sense and work experience, so an SPM qualification will suffice — but that is no reason not to get a degree or diploma in graphic design as it would definitely increase your chances of landing a job.

The Computer Graphics and Design diploma graduate said that during his college days he gave himself a lot of side projects for self-improvement.

I obtained a Diploma in Computer Graphics and Design, and one of the most valuable things you get from a higher education is a more in-depth understanding of the tools a graphic designer uses.

You are also wiser when experimenting with new and old software because you have a strong base, so you familiarise faster.

That said, all graphic design students should dabble with as many kinds of graphic tools as possible and not limit themselves, as your software know-how is a powerful asset in your portfolio.

All budding graphic designers should keep themselves occupied with learning new software and embarking on self-initiated projects.

As a graphic designer, everything you create — be it 3D animation, print work or doodles on a napkin — becomes part of your portfolio.

So if a person is passionate about art and design, then he or she should always be working on his or her art and coming up with new work.

The best person for the job ...

That’s a tough question! Since a myriad number of characteristics, skills and talents would be helpful for a potential graphic designer.

But lets start with the most essential skill — the ability to draw. At the very least you must have the most basic drawing skills.

After that comes all the resilience characteristics, patience, perseverence, focus and whatever else that helps a person manage stress and long hours.

A person who is willing to work long hours and accept criticism and rejection is definitely suited to the job. You will notice a lot of your work will be passed back to you to be reworked.

Like it or not, the layman does not see things the same way a creative artist sees things. It’s not really a bad thing actually, because seeing things through the eyes of others often lets you see your flaws.

Sometimes an idea may seem amazing among members of a creative team, but may be too complicated to get the message across to the masses.

Thats the whole point though, to get the message across. You get a graphic designer to create something not for his own pleasure, but for the company’s goals.

That said, you really have to be creative to package ideas through visual art. Thus right after drawing skills, you need creativity, creativity, creativity.

I love my job because...

... it deals with art, my passion. What’s more, I get to see my work published — nothing beats that and it doesn’t even have to be a major piece of art.

An Internet banner, poster, flyer — you name it, it doesn’t matter; as long as I get to share my work with the rest of humanity, I’m happy.

Of course, coming in to work in casual clothes is a super bonus for us creative design guys, since we rarely come into contact with the more serious side of business.

What I dislike most ...

Originally, I used to dislike the long hours, but after more than 10 years in this line of work, I’ve gotten used to it.

Now I mostly dislike having my work bounce back at me after working on the whole thing for the thousandth time.

Eventually, I even got used to that, but it remains a thorn in my side when my work gets rejected and I am required to go back to the drawing board.

Prospects for the future ...

... are good. There are many different ways for a graphic designer to branch out into similar fields if he or she wants to.

But honestly speaking, working your way upwards is not too bad either. At the very pinnacle of a creative department is the creative or art director, which is a very attainable position with the right amount of experience and a well developed portfolio.

But there are people who like to have their personal freedom as they grow older. Between freelancing and the ability to strike out on your own, graphic designers are spoilt for choice when it comes to “retirement”.

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