I was never good nor interested in math and programming, and I have poor logic-mathematical skills. Ironically I graduated as an "Information Systems Engineer" mainly for the fame and money. I switched several jobs and even tried doing an advanced degree but found them all boring, dull, uninspiring, and I was not very good at it.

On the other hand, I do consider myself having strong spatial and visual skills, which made my thinking about becoming a Graphic Designer. Unfortunately, I can't leave my job and go to a design school for I need income to sustain myself (no family to support me) and that my portfolio is empty for I have almost no skills, yet.

I assume the best thing will be to start learning on my own and create a portfolio, maybe even to take a less demanding job to have more time, and if I see good progress, than to consider becoming a poor student once again and enroll into a design school.

Have I devised a good plan? Any improvements you can suggest which will make my progress better and save me time?

  • Very interesting. . . I feel like I work very hard and achieve very little in engineering. However, when it comes to visual stuff I make a way better progress.
    – user117958
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 18:07
  • Well, you can work very hard as a designer and not achieve much too :) For me, the work has been more satisfying on a personal level though. I never got much satisfaction out of solving engineering issues.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 18:11
  • Question is really simple do you have any clients. Thats it, once you do your a graphic designer. So now you need to find people willing to pay you for your skills. Note: designing a machine to others is not really all that different from designing a graphic to others. The process is just slightly more understandable and shorter. But same problems apply, the more guarantees you need to give to your client the more it feels like you don't achieve anything.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 6:48

1 Answer 1


This question is a bit board and probably opinion based. But here are some tips.

  1. Focus.

Do not think on "I want to be a graphic designer" Think about "I want to do 2D Infographics" or I want to do "3D motion graphics that look like this".

  1. Find time.

I doubt you are a slave. Use extra time. Sacrifice that Netflix show you are watching or 20 mins of sleep.

  1. You are living in the youtube era.

That is a blessing and a curse. Similar to point 1. If you find an objective. Doing a 2D infographic, DO IT!. Do not just look for a tutorial.

  1. Find some specific courses.

Similar to point 1. A course about infographics. Two courses about color, another course about flat design.

If they have some certification that would be good in case you need some documentation, but use them to get a nice portafolio.

  1. About studying a degree

That is a possibility if you really like it. But that is a personal choice. But probably... the sooner the better.

I do not know if there are affordable degrees on the place you live in. You need to balance that. But in this profession, talent is more valuable than a degree. If you find yourself in a job where you are appreciated by your talent, there is a chance that you can negotiate time to get a degree.

But this is totally opinion based.

Probably one difference between studying a degree vs studying by yourself is that a degree starts to form the general to particular. You study general design methodology, visual language, syntaxis, semiotics, etc, and then you specialize yourself in whatever you want.

Studying by yourself cannot be the same process, because you need more focused motivation. In a degree, one motivation is finishing the degree. When learning by yourself you need to find rewards by doing cool stuff.

And by studying a degree later you will find a methodology and fundamentals to your "style" and point of view.

In a real-life portfolio, staying focused is also a good idea. It is better to promote yourself as a specialist in something. Vector Illustration, motion graphics artist, editorial designer, rather than scattered products.

A wide variety of products is better if you are a design firm.

Think of a Photography studio.

"Product photography studio" vs "We shoot whatever we have in front of us"

Of course, the second one could work if it is a studio that creates visual effects and has a production crew, 3D department, etc. But as a person, the first one will work better.

One kid that is 18 years old needs more time to define what he wants to do, so the general-to-particular is excellent.

As you are 30, you probably know what do you want and like more.

  • Very interesting point about focus. Is it only for the first learning steps or focusing on a specialization? I ask because many places say graphic designers should cover as many fields as possible.
    – user117958
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 18:05
  • 1
    I second "talent is more valuable than a degree" Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 18:19
  • 1
    I commented a bit about the "focusing" part.
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 19:19