calling graphic artist/seeking sage advice

I sure I should’ve posted this somewhere else, but ya’ll are my only internet friends. Today my boss asked me if I’d like to interview for a graphic artist position because he knew that I was a …

  1. pretty good artist (pencil, watercolor)
  2. pretty bright
  3. somewhat computer savvy
  4. and have a experience with computer graphics. (designing logo’s, cd covers, etc)

They agreed to interview me because of the recommendation, but they want me to have a portfolio (no problem, I can matte plenty of art work), and to know a little about Quark, Illustrator, Page Maker. I’ve seen people work on these programs and from what I understand, they’re mostly software to lay out stuff by importing mostly. But I’m nowhere proficient. So, my questions are.

  1. Is this a good field to be in? Is it fun/rewarding. (i do customer svc for 9-5 right now)
  2. What should I expect from these programs, do I have the gist of their purpose?
    I asked a friend who knows me pretty good, and he said I’d have no problem picking them up. But I’ve never went into an interview without profiency in the field, so what if they test me?
  3. what kind of pay should I expect in this field?
  4. any misc advice that would keep me from looking stupid would be appreciated.


We live in an age that reads to much to be wise, and thinks too much to be beautiful–Oscar Wilde

It’s certainly better than customer service.

It seems you have enough computer experience making graphics, so I’ll assume that’s not the problem, and you’re wondering whether it’s worthwhile learning Quark et al. It is; you’re friend is correct that you’ll have no problem picking them up. You’re correct in saying that they’re basically layout programs for imported graphics. They also have tremendous control over the design and placement of text, like a word processor on crack (well, perhaps that’s not so good a simile). They’re made for designing pages for printers. They have some minimal graphics capabilities (lines, boxes, patterns…), but they’re basically about typesetting. The reason Macintoshes were adopted so early and thoroughly by the graphics and typesetting industries was because they were the first computers to handle these applications really well.

Illustrator is different from Quark and Pagemaker. It’s the companion to Photoshop: a drawing program, based largely around vector graphics, as opposed to bitmaps (though with the amount of crossover functions, one’s almost as good as the other). You can do page layout on Illustrator, but it’s for much more than that.

My experience in these applications comes from my web design days, so I don’t know what you could ask for a salary; it’s skilled technical work, though, as well as creative, so probably, depending on your portfolio, as much as a decent graphic artist of the more traditional variety.

Never attribute to an -ism anything more easily explained by common, human stupidity.

This sounds a lot like my experiences about ten years ago. I was hired as a tech writer, but taught myself computer graphics software (it helps if you’re good with computers). Started with Mirage and worked up to Ventura Publisher and Quark

If you can teach yourself software, you can learn how to use the programs. They’re not that complicated. And if the boss asks you to interview, you have an inside track.

The gist of the desktop publishing is to lay out the page. Graphics usually involve cropping and some designing. You can do pretty well even if you don’t know how to draw, as long as you have a talent for placing the various elements on the page.

I doubt they’ll test you. Your boss will probably let people know that you’re a good candidate, which should be enough. If you can come up with any portfolio at all, you have a good chance of getting it (people always prefer to hire people they know).

Don’t know the salary range these days, but it’s a cinch it’s better than customer service.

Finally: what have you got to lose? If you get the job (and it can be a lot of fun), you’re better off. If you don’t, you’re no worse off than you are now. Go for it.

(One of the first rules I learned when working as a graphic artist – never say “no” to anyone.) :slight_smile:

“East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Marx

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

They agreed to interview me because of the recommendation, but they want me to have a portfolio (no problem, I can matte plenty of art work), and to know a little about Quark, Illustrator, Page Maker. I’ve seen people work on these programs and from what I understand, they’re mostly software to lay out stuff by importing mostly.

If you enjoy doing art then yes.

I asked my graphics artist about those three programs and he said he heard of Illustrator and Page Maker but not Quark. He also said he wasn’t very familiar with them. In all fairness, he is a 3D modeller so those pieces of software sound like the fall outside of his area of expertise. He said that Illustrator works a lot like Adobe (?) Paintshop, but better. It has more tools to make very nice pictures.

I would say between US$24,000 and US$30,000. At least thats what most graphics artists make in the computer game business.

“Glitch … Anything.” - Bob the Guardian

I use PageMaker daily to lay out the newsletter I produce. It has some limitations but it serves my purposes well.

Learning it is like learning to play chess. You’ll probably pick up the basics within a day or two, but you’ll be learning more fine nuances every day.

And YES, you should get out of customer service so fast you leave skid marks. You will have MUCH more fun as a graphic artist.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

By the way, I hate to hijack your thread but you don’t have your email listed, and I was wondering if you know any details about Satan’s impending visit to Dallas. Are you coming? Has the where & when been established?

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

Thanks for the info and support, I appreciate it. I’m all up for satan’s visit, but haven’t heard anything. my email is, so feel free to update me. i’ve been checking his planning thread but haven’t seen anything specific.

again, thanks.

We live in an age that reads to much to be wise, and thinks too much to be beautiful–Oscar Wilde


I work in advertising, I started on the account side. Over the past two years, I’ve become expert in Photoshop and Illustrator and pretty darn good in Quark (although I’m rooting for InDesign to kick Quark’s ASS). I was able to do this because I’m fairly creative and unintimidated by computers.

These interfaces are intuitive and user-friendly in comparison to many non-artistic applications. If you are comfortable learning by using you’ll be a-ok. I would suggest hitting the library or bookstore for tutorial books: the Quick Start guides (can’t remember pubs right now)are good references and cheap (about $17 each). But the best are project oriented and more expensive, though worth the price.

You should expect to start around $28K, b/c of your low “real life” experience, but the learning curve is steep and your portfolio will fatten quickly. To a lesser extent, so will your wallet. If you pound the pavement and work connections, you can freelance in your off-time for as much as $50 per hr. I’ve been doing that for about a year now. Beats waiting tables.

If you have any specific program related questions, you can email me. I’m in your boat, I’ve just been there a little longer.

P.S…If you want to try an Illustrator-like vector art program, go to and download a tryout of Freehand. It’s a full working version for thirty days and there’s a good tutorial you can download as well. You’ll then go into the interview with at least a basic knowledge of the workings of a vector program.

P.P.S… It’s really a very cool way to make a living, beats customer service with a wet mop. Good luck!

thanks. I picking up a quark tutorial book from one of my friends tonight, and i pick up programs pretty easy. so ya’ll have given my a lot of confidence.

We live in an age that reads to much to be wise, and thinks too much to be beautiful–Oscar Wilde

Learn the graphics proggies - that’s the easy part. Traditional art technique is a plus in today’s marketplace because real artist are rare and in demand. Companies wanting original artwork, especially for online use, don’t want to pay the high royalties associated with artwork agencies. My experience is that they would rather pay someone in-house who can put out custom art work and design elements.

I personally started out in newspaper advertising. My fist interview included a test on a MAC. I had never used a MAC but was well versed in the Amiga. (Yes, the Commodore Amiga) Anyway, I aced the interview because I was confident I could do the work. I even told my boss she could fire me if I couldn’t. Since then I have been an Art Director for several top 50 TV stations. I moved over to the web world and became Art Director/Webmaster for the 3rd largest software company in the world. Today I own my own business and I’m contracting for one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world doing interface design. I even have enough time to read through this message board each day!

I am by no means bragging, far from it. I am only pointing out the diversity you can expect if you get into this business. Start of by learning Photoshop and freehand or Illustrator. I use these plus Corel and Fireworks. Also consider learning 3d design. Programs such as Truespace are inexpensive and allow you to create without limitation. Despite all the computers and software I use, I still rely heavily on my traditional fine art experience.

As for compensation, I would say to expect between $35,000 + in a good size city. Not every graphic designer they interview will have traditional art abilities.