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How to Become a Graphic Designer in the UK (With No Experience)

If you could land a job, based entirely on your talents, which does not require any formal education, would you go for it?

Graphic designing is an industry that allows the astonishingly creative minds to explore, interact and showcase their talents, without acquiring a formal degree. If you work as a graphic designer, you could work in different industries, which require the duties associated with your role. For instance, you can collaborate with a newspaper agency, and provide them with regular illustrations for their paper. Similarly, you could also work as a freelance Graphic Designer and provide different companies with imagery for their pamphlets, posters and other projects.

If you have the skillset to pursue a career as a Graphic Designer, it is important to understand the requirement, roles and responsibilities associated with the role. You can consider the ensuing guide.

Job Description-What is a Graphic Designer and what do they do?

A Graphic Designer creates images to communicate with the target audience. Typically, the illustrations are formed using a digitalised software, however, some designers also draw by hand, and digitalise their concept at a later date.

The purpose of graphic design is to make the audience feel something. With the added feature of visual stimulation, several companies can provoke the audience to partake in the message being sent out.

For instance, when you look at the pictures of the food on menu cards, you automatically feel more hungry. In some way, the images created by Graphic Designers cater to the Pavlovian concept of classical conditioning.

Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning states that individuals often form associations with two distinct objects, if the objects are presented at the same time, at a frequent and consistent basis. For example, you may think of McDonald’s every time you see a clown in red and yellow. While the clown and a fast-food chain have no correlation, the fact that they have been so heavily paired convinces your unconscious to link the two objects.

Hence, Graphic Designers employ a strategic approach to provoking emotions in the public. They use striking images, stunning colour stories, and work with brands and different industries to ensure that their work captivates the audience’s attention.

Traditionally, the job title of a Graphic Designer can vary from firm to firm. As a Graphic Designer, you can work in the following roles:

  • Creative Director
  • Art Director
  • Brand Identity Developer
  • Art Production Manager
  • Package Designer
  • Visual Journalist
  • Visual Image Developer
  • Logo Designer
  • Content Developer

In order to achieve the objectives of the aforementioned roles, Graphic Designers employ the use different mediums, such as fonts, intriguing shapes, creative colour stories, thought-provoking images, print design, striking photography, animated designs, logos, and billboards.

Graphic Designers can either work with a specific firm or work as an independent artist. In this profession, you have the freedom to choose the industry in which you want to work in. However, in both these cases, a Graphic Designer holds a similar set of responsibilities, such as targeting clients, presenting their ideas, creating powerful images and incorporate changes to please the clients.

The profession requires a combination of technical skills, a creative outlook on life, along with a comprehensive understanding of the target audience. Keeping this in mind, as a Graphic Designer, you must be able to create designs that are powerful, convincing, along with being aesthetically pleasing.

The salary of a Graphic Designer- How much can you earn?

As a Graphic Designer, you can collaborate with different firms, or you can work as an in-house Graphic Designer. If you are working independently, your income would depend on the number of jobs you complete, along with the types of clients you work for. Typically, freelance Graphic Designers, with a bit of experience, are able to make around £200 and £400, per day. Although, this amount can increase once you gain popularity in the profession,

On the other hand, if you are working in a firm, your salary would depend on the amount of experience you hold. While the factors of creativity and talent are taken into consideration, the years of experience you have worked in the field,  holds the highest share in deciding the pay.

When you start out as a Graphic Designer, you can earn up to £15,000 to £19,000. However, after gaining some relevant experience, you can raise this amount to approximately £27,000. Additionally, when you continue in the field, you can get more jobs as an experienced Graphic Designer. At this stage, your income could range from  £25,000 to £35,000.

Similarly, Senior-level Graphic Designers can £35,000 to £55,000. This means, that if you continue in the industry for a number of years, you can bring in a large amount while performing the job you love.

Although, once you gain experience as a Graphic Designer, you can also apply for the position of a Creative Director. A Creative Director oversees the branding, advertising and presentation approach, within a firm. As a Creative Director, you can bring in an income of more than £60,000.

In addition to this, when you are working for a firm, you also become eligible for compensation and benefits, along with your salary. Some companies provide their employees with health insurance and other medical payment plans.

The skills and training are required to become a Graphic Designer

Getting into the profession of Graphic Design may seem simple, but it involves a certain set of skills that you need to have. A Graphic Designer must have the creativity required to visually stimulate the target audience, so they can create compelling pieces to fascinate the viewers. If you are considering starting your career as a Graphic Designer, you can reflect on the following requirements of the field.


While Graphic Design doesn’t necessarily require a degree, most firms look for candidates who have completed their basic education (Secondary school). However, if you have a strong portfolio, you can still land jobs in the industry.

With that said, if you wish to refine your skills in Graphic Design, you may pursue a degree at any higher education institution. Most universities offer online and in-house courses n Graphic Design and related fields.

Creative Thinking

A Graphic Designer must be creative. Creativity is the prime essence of the profession, without it, your work can easily drown in the pool of equally talented colleagues. Therefore, you must have the ability to think outside the box and execute your ideas in a proficient, refined, and a well-thought-out manner.

Communication Skills

As a Graphic Designer, you would have to set up a meeting with the clients and present your vision in a compelling manner. In order to move ahead in the industry, you must have the ability to speak about your creative ideas with the utmost confidence. You should sell your vision, your ideas, along with your ability to achieve your stated objectives.


Fluency in typography is another crucial skill that a Graphic Designer must-have. You need to hold the knowledge of arranging letters and choosing fonts in a format that is visually appealing, as well as readable for the audience. Graphic Designers must apply their typography skills while catering to a diverse range of audience. For instance, if you are designing a brochure about a retirement home, it is essential to use a font that is large, non-clustered and readable.

Technical skills

In addition to having the talent to create visually striking masterpieces, you would further need to have the ability to apply these skills, using the right medium. Most Graphic Designers are expected to be fluent in Adobe’s creative software programs. These include Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign.

Research Skills

Even if you create a visually aesthetic design, it wouldn’t be applicable if it fails to appeal to the target audience. For instance, if you are creating a design pamphlet for a children’s library, but you have used mild and earthy tones, your target audience would not be impressed. Keeping this in mind, it is essential for you to develop research skills that allow you to gather specific information about the likes and dislikes of your audience demographic. The more information you have, the better you can cater to their needs. As a result, having strong research skills is important for a graphic designer.

Proficiency in Interactive Media

In order to keep up with the demands of the modern world, you would also need to have proficiency in the use of interactive media. Interactive media includes content that involves audience engagement using sources, such as animation, motion pictures, videos, audio and video games.

The first step to becoming a Graphic Designer- Turn into a Guru

To start a career in Graphic Design, without formal education or prior experience, it is imperative for you to establish your expertise in the field. To achieve this objective you can depict yoruself as a Graphic Design Guru.

A Graphic Design Guru is an individual who passes off their wisdom to an audience, using online platforms.  Gurus discuss the requirements of the field, the latest trends in the industry, while also offering their followers with sagacious advice regarding the job. To become a Graphic Desing Guru, you can consider working on the ensuing platforms.

Start a blog

Graphic Designers can establish a rapport with relevant individuals in the industry by promulgating a blog, dedicated to the field. Your blog could include a wide range of entities, related to the profession. For instance, you can write about different design elements that improve the experience of the audience. You may also discuss the latest design trends and feature some illustrations to inspire the followers. If you are unsure about what topics to incorporate in your blogs, you can gauge an understanding from different Graphic Design blogs, such as  Noupe, Identity Designed and Adobe Creative Magazine.

Start a YouTube channel

You can also establish your authority in the filed by promoting yourself on YouTube. Creating interactive videos for the audience can showcase your talent, along with your creative skills. The type of content you create for your followers can vary. You can identify the area in which you excel at, and subsequently, create videos in that domain. For instance, you may also speak on your channel to give your viewers relevant advice on Graphic Design, or you can create tutorial videos on how to use Adobe software programs. In doing so, you can build a reputation for yourself in the online community.

Create a LinkedIn page

In today’s world, having a LinkedIn page is essential. Creating a profile on this platform can allow you to connect with people in the industry, who are in the search of Graphic Designers. LinkedIn allows you to interact and present your talents on a professional platform, so you can connect with potential clients and employers.

Do your own branding

Branding is an essential part of being aa Graphic Designer. Hence, in order to gain recognition in the industry, you must brand your skillset. You can promote your business online, using various social media platforms, as well as offline, by using more creative approaches.

Use social media to your advantage

In this contemporary era, social media platforms are the primary source of branding. Considering this, you must create a page on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter. If you hold expertise in interactive design, you can even promote your business on modern platforms, such as TikTok. Your name would be present on different platforms, all across the digital eco-system.

Design business cards

In addition to promoting your business online, it is imperative to apply a similar dedication in reaching out to an audience who is not active on social media. This may include traditional businesses, who prefer the old-school method of recruitment and partnership.

To captivate their attention, you can creatively design business cards, that represent your work. You can hand them out to local businesses, who are in the search for a Graphic Designer.

Attend conferences

Physically connecting and interacting with industry professionals can open up employment opportunities. Therefore, it is essential to keep yourself updated on the latest conferences being held, related to Graphic Design. In addition to just attending the conferences, you must also interact and engage with the fellow participants. You can also hand out your business cards, with the intention of being remembered.

Build a powerful portfolio

As a fresh Graphic Designer, your portfolio is your best asset. Keeping this in mind, you must take all the time you need to pick out some of your best work, to showcase to potential clients and employers.

Previously, Graphic Design portfolios were printed out images that you could place in a folder. Now, you can get a bit more creative and build your portfolio, using digital means. For instance, you can create an interactive video that features some of your best work, or you can create a slide show presentation. Your goal should be to make your work, as well as your individual creativity, stand out!

When you are working on your portfolio, take the following elements into account:

Include your best work

Your portfolio gives the impression of who you are, as a designer. Therefore, it should be inclusive of some of your best work. You must take the time to go through each and every one of your designs, so you can feature the work that can impress the clients.

Focus on quality, not quantity

Most fresh Graphic Designers make the mistake of adding too many pieces to showcase their talents. However, a portfolio featuring an excessive number of designs can become overwhelming for the viewer. Therefore, it is imperative to edit your final choices to make sure that you are presenting a superior quality of work.

Feature the type of work you enjoyed doing

It is important to build your portfolio with masterpieces that you enjoyed working on. This will ensure that your future projects would also require a similar type of work. Hence, it is recommended that you include pieces of your work that you wish to perform again, in the future.

Create customised portfolios for each requirement

When you reach out to a client, you must do a little bit of research to understand what they want from you. On the basis of this information, you can create a customised portfolio that caters to their needs. For instance, if you are applying to a newspaper agency, you can add a combination of formal and informal pieces to match with their requirements.

Ask for feedback

In order to assess the success rate of your portfolio, you can ask for feedback from an industry professional. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a client. You can ask a colleague, or another Graphic Designer to take a look at your work, and offer genuine and honest critiques. Consequently, you can take their advice into consideration to make the required alterations.

Target clients

Without much professional experience, finding clients can be a little tricky. However, with the right amount of branding and self-management, you can build a base for regular and loyal clients. Consider the following approaches.

Finding clients

Build a strong and versatile portfolio

Before reaching out to clients, you must have a strong portfolio in hand. This means that you would have to complete a few jobs, without a formal requirement. Your initial portfolio should represent your aesthetics, your range and your style of design. With a cogent portfolio, you can invite a few clients to work with you, even if you do not have a formal experience.

Offer a deal

People cannot resist deals. When you are starting out, you can use this to your advantage and offer a deal for your work. For instance, you can offer free design for the first collaboration with the client. This way, you would gain clients who can offer you referrals, and return to you in the future. Additionally, taking this initiative can also add formal jobs to your portfolio.

Make yourself readily available

In modern times, businesses enjoy a fast-paced solution. Therefore, it is imperative to always be available for the clients. You must include means of communication on your social media pages, such as your phone number, and email address, so clients can contact you at any time.

Use SEO to improve your online visibility

Additionally, you can also work on your online presence by incorporating search engine optimisation. SEO strategies can boost your rankings on the search engine results, page, thus making your page more visible to a wider range of audience.

Retaining clients

Sign a contract

As a Graphic Designer, you must learn to retain our clients. Most of the firms that you may work for would require your expertise int he future. Therefore, you can plan ahead and sign a contract with a facility to cater to their business’s needs in the future.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Once you start getting a flow of work, it is essential to not get carried away with the orders. Only take the orders that you are confident about completing the given time frame. If you fail to meet deadlines, you can damage your reputation and earn a negative image in the industry.

Show professionalism in your work

Your clients would only return to you if you exhibit professionalism in your work. Therefore, you must cater to the client’s individual needs, meet deadlines and remain civil in all transactions.

Conclusion – Is it right for you?

The role of a Graphic Designer can be very versatile. Your main focus should be to create an interactive and high-quality content that is appealing for the target audience. Although working in this profession does not require formal education, you must hold the technical and creative skills that are associated with the requirements of the job. To get your career started as a Graphic Designer, you can consider the foregoing tips and brand yourself through online and offline means. You can create a strong portfolio and target clients in different industries!

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