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Most Committed Mistakes often Missed by Blog Writers

Grammar and spelling is probably the top of anyone’s list in this department, but ironically, because grammar and spelling are the most common errors–they are also the most commonly searched for error. This article deals with the errors that blog posters commit and often miss.

The Silly Similar Word

Most people use some form of writing software to create their blog posts. The mostly commonly used writing software is one created by Microsoft, which will underline any spelling mistakes with a red line. The spelling and grammar checker however, is not able to pick up on words that have been mistyped but that are still correctly spelt. These are often the shorter words that break down to form connecting words – words such as “form” that turns in to “for” or “hand” that turns into “and”.

Troubling Typos

This one works on a similar principal to the paragraph above. The list of potential typos is massive, especially since some words have letters with suitable replacements besides them. O and P are close together, meaning that “oat” may easily become “pat” and “path” becomes “oath”.

The problem with many typos and similar words is that they look so similar, that they are very hard to recognize. They are often only spotted by a fresh pair of eyes–by people who are reading it for the first time.

The Stupid Sentence Fragment

Sometimes a sentence fragment is picked up by the grammar checker, but otherwise they are often missed because they fit into the flow of the piece so well. A sentence should have a subject and a predicate; a sentence fragment does not have both.

Annoying Capitalization

You will notice that your spellchecker allows the word “internet” even though it is wrong. The “Internet” is a name–just like a Land Rover or Dallas. Therefore it should always have a capital letter. The worse ones are fancy made-up names such as eBay, iPhone and YouTube. They are easy to miss because they are not part of the British-Queens-American English that you are taught at school.

The Damnable Quote

Quotes and speech grammar differs from usual grammatical rules. At the beginning of each quote, you should put a capital letter, “Like that”, even if you are quoting a person from the middle of their sentence. Furthermore, you should put all sentence ending punctuation within the quote, such as, “never again.”

It looks better like this, “never again”. However, that is incorrect and a commonly missed mistake.

Switching Perspective

Many people switch from first, to second, to third person at the drop of a hat, and if you have a chunk of text that is more than four hundred words, it is very difficult to keep track of.

Most people will miss this mistake; we often miss them–as do I.

There was an example of doing all three in one sentence. Granted–that is easy to spot but if the first paragraph has references to the writer and the rest is in third person, you may find it difficult to spot.

Opinions

An opinion is something that is expressed by the writer, or relayed via the writer. Here are some examples:

  • I found the movie Prometheus to be drawn out and poorly paced. – That is the writer’s opinion
  • The Muslim community leaders were angry at [insert comment here] and found it to be in poor taste. – That is an opinion relayed via the writer.

Opinions are fine and are very welcome on any blog, but expressing an opinion as a fact is an error. Removing the ethical side of voicing an opinion as a fact, you should remember that no matter how much reason is given to an opinion–it is only conjecture and not fact. Therefore any opinion that is stated as fact is inherently incorrect. Here are some examples:

  • Mexicans are mostly lazy
  • Prometheus was a great film, and nobody will fall asleep half way through
  • Summers in Texas are better than those in California

Whether you agree or disagree with the comments above, they are inherently wrong, not because they may/may not be true, because they are opinions. They should be written like this:

  • Fox News directors feel that Mexicans are mostly lazy.
  • Larry the cable guy thinks that Prometheus was a great film, and that nobody will fall asleep half way through.
  • I think summers in Texas are better than those in California.

Thank you for reading.

Featured Image: The Courtyard of Old Factory Building on Shutterstock

31 Sexy Search Boxes

Perhaps the most useful element in a website is often the most overlooked from a design perspective. The humble search box, tucked up in the top corner or hidden away down the side bar, is often forgotten about.

Yet with a little care and attention, your search box can truly become part of your design, and can feel like a proper feature instead of an after-thought. This collection of sexy search boxes show just how you can make a search feature that people will be drawn to and will use, making your site many times more useable.


Hopefully this collection has ended your search (pun intended!) for beautiful search box designs, and has inspired you to put a little more thought in your next search feature.

Please share your favorite search boxes in the comments below.

Looking for freelance graphic design work? Find graphic and web design contests at DesignCrowd.

How to Test your Website for Mobile Devices with Emulators

Nowadays, it has become obvious that ignoring people who are connected to the Internet through handheld device is a mistake and the number of visitors will lower considerably. The predictions related to the growth of mobile visitors are amazing and this is clearly another reason to consider a “mobile website.” Web designers have noticed this fact and have already prepared various methods of making the websites more mobile friendly. We now have the responsive design that seems to offer the proper solution not to neglect mobile users.

Even though it hurts some experts, meaning web designers, still don’t have full control over everything when making websites. Some challenging aspects require specific solutions and the solutions for everything are not clearly defined. Surely, in short time the community will find solutions and other issues will appear that will ask for other solutions and so on.

The clients are aware that making websites isn’t an easy job but they can’t afford mistakes when creating their websites. The responsive approach isn’t very different from the old best practices but there are new ideas that must be implemented. Therefore, creating websites that are well rendered no matter the devices from where they are accessed is difficult and any mistake isn’t tolerated. Fortunately, across time the website creators have developed solutions that help them in removing any mistakes; some are complicated while others are very simple. I considered that it will be a real help to share with you two very powerful methods to check your websites, the great advantage is that both of them are for free or almost free.

1. The feedback of relatives and friends

Yep, it sounds as a stupid piece of advice but reality has proved the validity of this statement. In fact, you create the website for everyone, therefore a very good subject to test your website is a common user of Internet. It won’t be a mistake to test by using folks not very attached to the Internet and the latest technologies.

Testing in the latest phases of creation isn’t necessarily a very good solution, you may notice a very important mistake before uploading it online…definitely, it will take more time and resources to correct than testing in the initial cases. The specialists say that even a single tester is much better than none; and once again, he/she shouldn’t be a super talented designer. Do you agree with them or do you have another opinion?

2. Use mobile browsers emulators


The smartphones & tablets market exploded and nowadays we have many different displays sizes. A web designer should test his websites for all these devices…so he must buy all these to have at his hand…? If he really likes all of them, yes it’s Ok…but these are expensive so it will be impossible to buy new and new smartphones and tablets. Don’t worry; there is a handy solution that is free! Yep. It’s true these aren’t necessarily the most high-quality solutions, but these may give precious hints about the deficiencies of your websites. The specialists call these mobile browsers emulators, in fact these reveal how your website is rendered by various mobile devices. Here are some of the best, feels free to test your websites with these and let me know which your favorite is:

  1. Mobile Phone Emulator


    This is one of the best emulators and it is highly recommended to visit it yourself. Another great advantage is the large pallet of smartphones for simulation, from iPhone to Samsung or BlackBerry.

  2. iPhone Tester


    The name is self-explicatory, if you want to see how your website is displayed on an iPhone you should enter the address in order to admire it.

  3. Opera Mini Simulator


    Even if Opera hasn’t a big market share when it comes to “normal” browsers, in the mobile universe it is an important name. A web designer can’t forget Opera when testing his latest website. This website lets you to correct your works by rendering websites in the same way as your smartphones does with by using Opera.

  4. Screenfly by QuirkTools


    This is a real wonderful application. It lets you visualize how your website is rendered by a desktop, a tablet, a mobile or a TV set. There is some more good news; each category has different variants depending on the size of the displays. This application should be in the bookmarks of any web designer.

  5. iPad Peek


    iPad is, quite probable, the best tablet on the market and no designer can’t neglect it. It’s mandatory to have a website that may be successfully used via iPad. This application is perfect to test your websites before launching.

  6. Responsivepx


    Responsive design is a very trendy expression, it consists in the way of making websites that are fully rendered no matter the devices that access it. Responsivepx is another application that significantly helps a web designer; it lets you decide the display size and then to test the new website.

  7. Mobile Phone Emulator


    Mobile moxie is different from the previous tools because it has a special feature. By using this application you may compare up to three smartphones to see which one renders your websites the best. Definitely, you may use to see how your website is rendered by a multitude of websites.

  8. TestiPhone


    If you aren’t satisfied with the previous mobile emulators for iPhones, then you should check Test iPhone, it won’t be disappointing!

  9. Orange


    This is another emulator ready to help you to test your websites. The idea is simple: add the URL and instantly your website will be rendered.

Conclusion
I hope that you enjoyed this list and it was useful to test your websites. It will be great to know which one is your favorite, use the comment form to share your opinion.

Choosing the Right Typography for Your Website

Choosing typography for your website is almost as essential as the design itself. It not only helps your visitor have a clear understanding of your websites content the type also sets a mood for your website. Since this kind of consideration can be very subjective, there are a lot of “right” answers. But the answer is easier than you think!

Tech Context

Since the mid-nineties, when Netscape introduced the font tag for changing the typeface of text (now obsolete), web masters have been trying to use custom fonts on their websites to certain success.

Throughout the history of the web and as new technologies emerge; different types of solutions were being used at several stages. These workarounds could go from using actual images instead of text, to CSS or Flash based image replacement or JavaScript.

Nowadays there are several tools and technology available, like Google Fonts (free), or Adobe Typekit (premium) that makes using custom fonts very easy. Even more, online website builder an editor tools such as Breezi, Squarespace, Moonfruit and others take care of the whole process, so you don’t have to worry about code and workarounds.

Readability First

The first thing you should focus on is readability. You may be tempted to choose a font by its appearance, and it is of course something important, but you must always remember the main reason you present some text on your site: so that people can read it.

So if an image lacks readability, there’s no point presenting it. The idea of a publication that contains text is to deliver a message. If there’s interference on the way, the message won’t be delivered. It’s better to avoid a stylish but unreadable typography than to risk your visitors not being able to understand what you are trying to state.

Start with the Type for the Body

It’s probable that the part that visitors will focus the most would be the body text. It will be where they spend more time reading your content, simply because it will be the most abundant text on your site.

For this reason, it is recommended that you don’t use a complicated custom font. Any of the sans serif “web safe” fonts (you’ll learn more about this term below) will do. In the body text is where the previous point makes most sense: readability.

Font size is something relevant to think about too. Each different design can have different implications and variations of sizes, so there’s no “one-size-fits-all” statement that we can issue regarding it, but something around 14 and even up to 16 pixels can work right.

Type for Titles

Titles are also important, because they will be the starting/introductory point to the larger blocks of text. This is due to the fact that people scan pages on the web, instead of reading them linearly from start to finish.

And in titles, since they usually feature a larger font size and in smaller blocks of text, you can have more flexibility on the typography. You can allow your title to have a more elaborated or complex font.

Again, the larger the type the easier it is to read, this is why you can have more type options for the headings of your site, if you present these in a larger size.

Furthermore, if you use custom typography, you may need some kind of method to present the right font for your headings. And for example, if you’re using a solution that uses JavaScript to display a font on your website (like Google Fonts, Adobe Typekit, or Cufon), it will add to the loading time. And the more the script is needed to render text, the slower the page can get. This is also another reason that you may want to avoid using custom fonts for the body/paragraph text.

As mentioned above, there is not a set standard about sizes, but if you want a suggestion, you can try using 32/34 pixels for the level one heading (h1), and start dropping from there, since there shouldn’t be any text larger than the top heading.

The one thing to mention is that you should emphasize hierarchies, so that headings stand out from normal text. This can be done in several ways, but the easiest, most used and recommended way, is to make them bigger than normal text. You can also make them bold, of different color, have a background, a bullet, etc.

2 Type Faces are Enough

If you use too many fonts, you will make your site inconsistent. It can be chaotic and create tension. Perhaps this is intended, but unless managed properly, it should be avoided.
Of course, “rules are made to be broken”, and you could try using 3 or more fonts, and still have good results. But generally speaking, using two different types of fonts can be enough for almost any purpose.

For example: one can be for the general blocks of text (body) and the other one for titles (headings) and other emphasized elements.

Style Categories

The most widely known and used categories for fonts are Serif and Sans Serif. Serif fonts have small details or adornments on the ending of letters, whilst sans serif don’t.

There are other categories like “Script”, “Blackletter” or “Mono”, but those are not used as widely as the former ones.

Web Safe fonts

“Web Safe” is a term used to describe elements that are available, or otherwise “safe” to use on the web. It doesn’t only apply to fonts, but in this context specifically, it refers to fonts that are universally installed on most computers (Macs or PCs).

They can be safely invoked in your site without any type of hack, replacement method, script or repercussion, and they will be displayed as expected on all computers (at least on the ones that have an Internet connection available).

Here’s a quick list of serif and sans serif “safe” fonts:

Serif Web Safe Fonts

  • Helvetica
  • Arial
  • Tahoma
  • Impact
  • Lucida Sans
  • Verdana
  • Geneva

Sans Serif Web Safe Fonts

  • Times New Roman
  • Georgia
  • Garamond
  • Palatino Linotype
  • Book Antiqua
  • Courier
  • Monaco

Other Notes

There are other formatting options that you should take into account when adjusting type. Even if you have a very good font, that’s readable and goes along with your design, it can still be messed if it doesn’t have the right letter spacing or line height.

These two characteristics can help make text more readable. They can also be used to achieve certain effect, like having letters too cramped and close to each other, which can add to the design you are trying to achieve. As long as they remain readable, it’s acceptable.

A note on the length of lines for your blocks of text: it is recommended (though not a strict rule) to employ 45-75 characters for each line. If the line is too short, it can affect the pace at which the visitor is reading. If you use a line of too many characters, it will be very easy to get lost when going to the next line.

Sum Up

Of all the rules stated above, perhaps the most important one should be readability. As stated all along, none of the other ones should be treated as unbreakable or fixed. You can try experimenting, and having some feedback from a designer, or from any normal or random visitor(s).

Tips for Finding Inspiration and Sparking Creativity

Whether you are looking for new business ideas, looking to write that next chapter in your book or trying to optimize your marketing campaign, you will need to generate creative ideas.

Don’t believe in the myth of writer’s block, or in any idea which only promotes your blocks to creativity. These limiting beliefs and low energy ideas cripple your creativity. By following the tips below you will be able to generate creative ideas on command. Remember, as you flex your mental muscles these faculties become stronger. You become more and more creative each day as you express yourself creatively on a persistent basis.

How can you spark creativity on a persistent basis?

Study Inspirational Figures

By studying inspirational figures you can generate a steady flow of inspirational, creative ideas. People who have reached prominent positions within their niche provide you with many creative ideas: it’s these ideas which made the individuals successful.

You can either use similar creative ideas or even better, a creative spark of genius grows in your own mind, and you can launch out on a creative campaign of your own, blazing your own trail.

Meditate

Meditation helps you dissolve blocks to creativity. The flow of inspirational, creative ideas never ends. You can tap into this flow of brilliance on command. Why do most people never realize this great truth? They carry blocks to creativity, or limiting beliefs which simply rarely allows these individuals to generate and implement truly creative, unique ideas.

Sit in a quiet room. Relax your body. Focus on your breathing. If you attention wanders from your breathing note the distraction and move your focus back to your breathing. This practice helps you to become more aware of your blocks.

When you become more aware of your limiting ideas, hearing the actual chatter in your head, such as “I can’t find any creative ideas,”, or, “I am suffering from writer’s block,” you can sit patiently, release these ideas which block your creativity, and simply attract creative ideas.

If you do one thing each day to foster creativity, or to grow your business, or to write your book, meditate for 20 minutes. This simple practice expands your awareness and encourages a steady flow of creative ideas to find you.

Decide to Create

By creating things daily you literally become magnetic to inspirational, creative ideas. When you focus your attention and energy on some idea, that idea grows in your mind. By moving into specific, directed actions each day you naturally make these acts a habit.

Have you noticed how some bloggers churn out post after post of relevant, helpful content on a daily basis? Or how some authors publish best sellers at a steady clip? Or how some business mavericks always seem to generate innovative, out of the box entrepreneurial ideas, to expand their ventures?

These individuals simply committed to creating on a persistent basis. They sit in a quiet room, working their way through mental blocks, or objections, and wait patiently until the idea they have been searching for, hits them.

Or this crowd simply starts writing, brainstorming all forms of creative ideas, until they are struck with the one business or life-changing inspiration which can help shape the lives of so many people around them.

Commit

By committing to your creative craft, you will generate more inspirational, creative ideas than you could possibly dream of. Make creating a habit. Take the time to set aside at least 1 hour to creating daily, and you will never run out of creative ideas to grow your opportunity.

Follow these tips religiously to tap into creative ideas on a consistent basis.

Featured Image: Young Artist Painting on Shutterstock

10 Tutorials for Manipulating Faces in Photoshop

About the Author: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint and Facebook.

Even the most masterful Photoshoppers can struggle with face editing. How do you remove imperfections without losing the essence of the portrait subject? How do you morph animal faces with human faces? There’s a photoshop tutorial for morphing animal and human faces. Anyway, the following 10 Photoshop tutorials offer excellent tips and tricks for Photoshopping picture-perfect faces.

1. Lighten and Brighten Eyes in Photoshop

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. Here’s a way to lighten and brighten eyes to make them really stand out.

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2. Reducing Wrinkles in Photoshop

Wrinkles can add character, but sometimes you want to reduce them so your subject looks their best. This Photoshop tutorial shows you how to subtly erase lines and wrinkles without making your subject look artificially altered.

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Bonus Tutorial: How to Slim a Face in Photoshop

Ever hear the phrase “the camera adds ten pounds?” Any number of things can go wrong during a photo shoot and make the subject look heavier than they actually are. Maybe the lighting was off, the angle was bad, or the subject’s posture was unflattering. But there’s a simple way to fix those mistakes and bring out your subject’s natural beauty.

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3. Removing Blemishes and Acne in Photoshop

Acne is a fact of life for many teens, but there’s a quick and easy way to eliminate them and give your subject a fresh, new look!

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4. Smooth and Soften Skin in Photoshop

Sometimes the wrong lighting can make skin look sharp and harsh. Here’s a great tip on making skin look its best under bad lighting conditions.

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5. Changing Skin Tone in Photoshop

Shadows and bad lighting can make people’s skin look darker than it really is. This Photoshop tutorial details how to change skin tone to make it look more natural and balanced.

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6. Applying Virtual Makeup in Photoshop

If you want to make your subject appear exotic, this Photoshop tutorial will show you how to add virtual makeup.

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7. Digital Nose Job in Photoshop

When plastic surgery isn’t an option, you can always give your subject a nose job in Photoshop. In this lesson, you can learn how to make a nose more symmetrical with a subject’s overall facial features.

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8. Whiten Teeth in Photoshop

Learn how to use Photoshop to polish pearly whites fast and easy in this excellent tutorial.

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9. Airbrushing Skin in Photoshop

Many people want to minimize the appearance of freckles and skin blemishes. This Photoshop tutorial shows you how to do it with just a few clicks.

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10. Sultry Eyes in Photoshop

Turn red eyes into sultry eyes with this outstanding Photoshop eye correction and enhancement tutorial.

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30 Stunning Examples of Spot UV Printed Business Cards

About the author: This post was written by Alexa Garthwaite, Business Development Manager at Executive Offices Group.

Business Cards still reign supreme when it comes to physically exchanging contact details, despite the wide range of overly technical mobile phone apps and gadgets that are constantly claiming to be the next big thing. Thanks to the rapid advancement of today’s technology, there really are no limitations when it comes to business card creativity, allowing you to dream up a wide range of sizes, shapes, textures and effects.

Die cutting, letter pressing and embossing are all highly accessible techniques in this day and age, but one effect that can really help your business card stand out from the crowd is Spot UV Printing. Spot UV is a high gloss finish that is only applied to certain areas of the card, and is a great way to define text or accentuate a pattern. A well thought out design can result in a stunning end product, and we’ve done the hard work of scouring the internet for 30 great examples of well executed Spot UV Printed Business cards.

Conclusion
We hope you enjoyed this assortment of fantastic business card examples. Have you ever experimented with spot UV printing, or own a set of glossy business cards yourself? Get involved in the comments.

10 Beautiful BestInDesign Templates

There are freebies and then there are freebies. The free templates we discovered at www.BestInDesignTemplates.com surely qualify for a ‘Best of the Web’ badge. See if you agree with our assessment . . . .

Templates not only are a time-saver, they’re a ‘creativity liberator’. You neither need to do the nitty-gritty of creating a graphics design document from scratch nor do you have to be well-versed in the technical aspects of layout design – those parts of the job are already done for you. This means that you can start realizing your vision as step one.

Your vision may include text/image layouts, fonts, paragraph/character styles, table/cell styles, block quotes, colour swatches, ‘bleed’, vector shadow, layers, and more. A few mouse clicks, several minutes of typing, some drag-and-drops, and presto! you’ve gone from template to advertising leaflet, or from template to annual report.

Talk about leaflets and reports, check out BestInDesign’s free tri-fold leaflet template and company report template. The latter allows you to concentrate on your figures and arithmetic; actual creation of an attractive report is a snap with this template.

They are far from the only free templates this site offers. We don’t know how they do it but they’ve got templates for Media Software Catalogue, Interactive Portfolio Resume, Estate Brochure, and several more; all available for free download!

With so many excellent free templates we wonder if anyone buys a template from these generous folks. If you’re wanting to start up the next IKEA, make a beeline for the inexpensive and professional Product Grid Catalogue. This 16-page, half-fold magazine template is ideal for creating a product catalogue with multiple image styles and anything from two to nine products per page. This is achieved by numerous layout styles pre-configured in the template – use one, use all.

The technically minded among you will be glad to know that most templates come with a PDF preview plus a CS2 interexchange .INX file. This means you can work with the templates even If you don’t have the latest InDesign version.

Thanks for reading this post on CreativeOverflow.net but we gotta tell you, if you get your templates from BestInDesignTemplates.com, it ain’t gonna be just ‘creative overflow’ – it’s gonna be creative overload! Happy Templating!

So You Want to Be a Graphic Designer?

There are a lot of people that think being a graphic designer is easy. Sure it looks fun and is fun at times, but what they don’t see is the behind the scenes work that takes place to make a success of the chosen career field. So to everyone out there who wants to be a graphic designer, here is a short article describing what it’s about. You don’t need a marketing degree to be successful in the field and you definitely don’t have to be Einstein. Let’s dig in.

What does it take?

As with any artistic venture, your success as a graphic designer relies on more than a degree from a highly-ranked university. Art is not mathematical. It cannot be taught in formulas, and it has no set answers. Natural talent is demanded from graphic design students. Artistic imagination and a natural eye for order are instrumental to succeeding both in class and after graduation.

Good design is regulated by order, but is far from formulaic. Beyond natural talent and a grasp on the fundamentals of design, successful graphic designers have panoramic sensibilities. They are naturally in tune with large cultural movements, but are also aware of the details that comprise the trends.

Graphic designers understand white space, leading, shadow and color; and they understand the mass mentality that makes the elements marketable and attractive. A graphic designer or creative director must wield an understanding of the cultural context in which a design operates to successfully create and propel trends.

Graphic designers are at the forefront of campaign launches in marketing, government and entertainment. They structure the visual art that accompanies such cultural movements as presidential campaigns and video games. They design the logo of your newspaper and the widgets on your favorite site.
They are everywhere, and though the field is competitive in certain markets, most recent graduates (with a stellar portfolio) can easily find an entry-level job.

What types of jobs are available?

Location, location, location!

As previously mentioned, the graphic design industry is a ubiquitous field, and there is a constant demand for the skill and insight of graphic designers. To capitalize on the industry, look for jobs nationwide after graduation. Don’t limit yourself to the state from which you graduated or your hometown.

Currently, California offers the most graphic design jobs, but other states of note are Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Washington D.C. area is another forerunner in graphic design positions. (The highest paying and most competitive graphic design jobs are in the employ of the federal government.)

Find your niche.

For some, graphic design may be a foundation on which more advanced skills (such as animation) are built upon. Research requirements in your desired field before completing your education.

  • Print Media – Specialized design services for newspapers, periodicals, books and publishers.
  • Marketing – Creating advertisements, brochures, logos and other branding materials.
  • Web Design – Build templates, pages, style sheets and graphics for online media.
  • Video Game Artist – Create concepts, animate characters, illustrate character models and inanimate objects, specialize in textures.
  • Animator – 3D or 2D animation, creating special effects in films, and many of the things that video game artists do.

Start your own business

Freelancing and entrepreneurship are always an option for graphic designers. If you choose to locate to an area with a limited number of graphic designers (or a limited number of decent graphic designers), the market is prime for your domination. If you are considering being your own boss, a few courses in business will help you with the basics.

Freelancers have to hustle, and they have to be organized. Though the pay can be good, and the work can lead to entrepreneurship, if there is ever a hitch in your income, you may be back to waiting tables for a few weeks. A good test is to freelance while in college.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock