Professional artists throughout the state of Alabama seek employment in graphic design. With a population of 4.8 million and many commercial businesses, Alabama appeals to aspiring artists earning degrees as well as skilled graphic designers looking for work.
Alabama Schools and Training Programs for Graphic Design
Alabama residents seeking local degrees in graphic design typically attend Virginia College, Samford University, Birmingham Southern College and University of Alabama in Birmingham, Spring Hill College and Bishop State Community College in Mobile or Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Other schools offer similar training and degree programs online. The largest of these are The Art Institutes, University of Phoenix, DeVry and ITT Tech.
Graphic designers usually major in visual communications or fine arts. Students learn computer science, website design, digital art, technical drawing, typography, animation, mass media, commercial marketing and printmaking techniques, as well as the use of professional graphic design software like Adobe and Corel.
Working as a Graphic Designer in Alabama
Graphic designers in Alabama are in relatively high demand. Opportunities for Alabama designers include creating logos for branding, promotional materials for marketing firms, cover art and page layout for books and magazines, “look & feel” factors for websites, blueprints for architectural firms, product packaging for advertisers, print patterns for textile manufacturers and visual instructions for product assembly, to name a few.
Some local graphic artists are employed by top Alabama ad agencies. These include AT&T Advertising Solutions, O2 Ideas, Eastside Ventures or Luckie Strategic in Birmingham, Berry Company, Lewis Communications, MDI Media or Red Square in Mobile and Cunningham Group or Logo Loft in Montgomery. Other Alabama designers contract with local movie producers like Haights Cross, Trans Media Music and Vazda Studios in Birmingham, Bas Productions, Digital Solutions and Magic Motion in Mobile or Dan Black Studios and Blue Horizons Pictures in Montgomery. Alabama graphic designers can also work for software companies, educational institutions, publishers, manufacturers, construction contractors, architects, real estate offices, consulting firms and numerous other commercial businesses.
Today, more than a quarter-million graphic designers are employed in the U.S. Roughly half of them earn between $30,000 and $60,000 per year. Two key factors determining the starting salary of a graphic designer are related experience and educational background. Potential employers scan design portfolios in deciding which applicants to hire and how much to pay them. The portfolio is a representation of the designer's best professional efforts and reveals much about an artist's point of view.
Employers select graphic designers from a large pool of qualified applicants. A degree and related experience are typically required for corporate work, although many graphic designers earn comfortable livings as freelance professionals.
Skills of a Graphic Designer
Graphic design is a way of communicating through the use of visual symbols. A graphic designer creates and manipulates these symbols to send particular messages to a target market. Most graphic designers focus on page layout, which deals with the size, color, placement and orientation of images on a page.
Professional graphic designers intuitively understand subtle visual realities like how colors affect mood, or how the human eye automatically views a space from left-to-right, light-to-dark, top-to-bottom and large-to-small. Graphic designers use this knowledge in choosing appropriate color schemes and in arranging page layouts. Graphic design is all about how we feel about what we see. Those who say looks and size don't matter are probably not graphic designers.