Any Dopers who are graphic designers? Please post your experiences!

So my nephew wants to get into graphic design. He’s pretty good at art (IMHO not as naturally talented as his father was), and gets A’s in his graphic designs classes.

However, my nephew wants to find out more about the field.

Basic stuff like what kind of pay he can expect, but also about the experiences of graphic designers in general. What the work is like, how long the hours are, what kind of promotions you can get, does it still interest you after so-and-so many years of working in the field, what are the most interesting types of work you have got, and what kind of skills you felt were essential in carrying out your duties.

Obviously the little bug is trying to find out as much as he can by himself, but it got me really interested, and the nut that I am - I figured I’d ask on the SD.

So, calling on the experiences of all members who are/have been involved in graphic design…

What’s it like?

I’ve been doing graphic design professionally for about 2 years, albeit in conjunction with web designing and marketing as part of my official duties.

I really just stumbled into it. I work for a very small company that just happened to be looking for a webmaster/graphic designer when I was starting my job hunt. Career-wise, I’d consider it more of a starter job if I wanted to concentrate soley on graphic design.

If he really loves what he does, he should be able to go pretty far, as long as he keeps up on the latest technology and continually hones his skills. In graphic design, like most other “artistic” professions, the talent you bring to the table can outweigh your credentials and you can still land a good job.

The other side of that coin is the dual factors of location and luck. Where you live can mean a plethora of job opportunities or none at all. And there are a lot of talented designers out there - much more talented than I - who can’t find work. I fall squarely into the “luck” designation.

I’ll leave it to more educated Dopers to describe the whole graphic design/art school experience, since I never had the opportunity, nor the desire, to delve into that level of artistic education. (I visited a few but just…couldn’t…see myself fitting into that scene.)

My last bit of personal advice is: the luckiest people are those who get to do what they love for a living. I’ll take my low paying graphic design job over a job I hate at thrice the salary.

I sort of fell into my current marketing-web design job because of my computer skills. However, he’ll need to know about the computer programs associated with graphic design. Stuff like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Quark. I know several talented artists that could excel in a graphic design job, but they lack the computer skills needed in today’s world.

He needs to learn these programs (esp. Quark and Adobe Indesign, Illustrator and Photoshop). Any middling to large community college should be offering courses in all of these. Learning this stuff will also tell him a lot about what he would be doing every day, and give him a bit of an idea whether he would like it or not.