Does anyone have advice on a lost soul?

I'm currently studying Civil Engineer already finished my second year. I hate it but I want to finish this degree. I've found myself interested in Graphic Design though I have no experience apart from an A* in A-level Art.

Would I have to start a whole new degree? Or is there another way, such as taking a foundation year? Is that enough to make me employable?

I just don't want to graduate at 25 as I'm already 20.

  • This is not a question stackexhange will handle very well because it is very personal and very subjective. Thus opinionated. Anyway were you comfortable in CAD class? Because its very similar to the day job a graphic designer. Remember graphic design is NOT art. Also turning graphic designer means self employed in most parts of the world so then all that matters is your ability to attract customers.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 7:29
  • 1
    Hi Amy, to be a Graphic Designer you need a very good visual qualities, to see what others are not able to see. And you start badly: in your question it does not appear anywhere where you are or where you plan to carry out those studies. I would recommend leaving everything and go to IED Milan, Istituto Europeo di Design, or to Central Saint Martins, London, University of the Arts London, or to ELISAVA, University School of Design and Engineering of Barcelona, or The School of Visual Arts of NY, or...
    – user120647
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 7:57
  • 2
    Graphic design is mainly a craft and it takes a lot of practice to gain the skills needed. If I were you I wouldn't think "What is the fastest way I can get a degree?" but rather "How can I get to spend as much time as possible learning graphic design?". I really do recommend that you "start over" with a new degree so you can learn everything from the top. Not because of the degree itself, but because of the skills, knowledge and network you will gain. Your two years of studying Civil Engineer is NOT wasted. BTW you make me feel like an old turtle. I was 27 when I started my formal education.
    – Wolff
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 8:29
  • 1
    Hi Amy, Welcome to Graphic Design StackExchange. Please do be aware that Graphic Design is not about self-expression, or Art, per se. It is a means of communication, visually, using principles of visual perception to communicate a sponsored message to a defined audience.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 0:03
  • 1
    I have been helping with the data visualisation programme and the attitude towards mathematics in graphics designers is often poor. Often people have self selected themselves based on their personal belief in lack of mathematical skill. This is a huge problem, so much so that we are now experimenting with reqruiting from engineering instead of graphic design. Being a craft does not excluude the need for higher order knowledge.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 4:35

3 Answers 3


This question and answer will surely be closed, but here I go.

I studied 2 years of mechanical engineering. I changed to graphic design. In my opinion, if you really want to do graphic design, do not waste time studying something else just "because". But be sure you want to actually change.

My enlightenment moment was when I realized that all my notes about mathematics were drawn over cartoons explaining concepts, formulas, happy characters, etc.

But this is a personal decision.

  • 1
    upvoted because I went through the exact same path.
    – Luciano
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 8:21


For myself I can say: I spent many years working as a graphic designer, both as a freelancer and working for agencies... during that time I was also working as a technical illustrator and technical writer; later I went back to school yet again and moved into what I had always really wanted to do but thought I couldn't break into: architecture.

I've now spent a bit over a decade in the architectural and BIM field, and love it; I still do work in graphic design, technical illustration and writing, I do a fair amount of architectural illustration and rendering, and am now learning new skills in Unity game development to further my ability to handle real-time rendering Arch-Viz work.

Graphic design, as already said in another reply, is a discipline, an art of sorts, and a method of creating graphic languages: it's also a communicative field and a creative field.

It's not for the most part a fine art, albeit true that many graphic designers are also artists in their own right, and many well-known artists have pursued a "day-job" of graphic design to pay the bills.

That said, coming as I do from the intersection space of architecture, graphic design, technical illustration, 3D modeling, rendering and animation, having no degree in most of the fields in which I've practised successfully for years, my answer is: the best thing about graphic design is that it's portfolio (results) based.

If on top of great results, you can demonstrate a good, client-focussed process, you can easily overcome most objections. Conversely, if you now burn 3 more years of Uni and yet have no appreciable skills, talent or portfolio at the end, you'll have sharply limited success.

I'd say start pursuing design work now, do it as a sideline, and see if it's really your cup of tea.


Try looking at moving into Industrial Design/Engineering

Stick with engineering, Graphic Design on its own is becoming a dead-end with a lower salary cap. Go make your money and do GD as a hobby.

Design has become trend-driven and with the accessibility of tools and resources being at an all-time high, that going into straight design, unless you are amazingly talented, isn't the smartest option.

Designers are being overlooked for jobs now unless you have more than just design skills to bring to the table. Coding, understanding of web development and other skills are much more marketable and almost necessary now versus 5 years ago.

Industrial Design, however, has a lot of crossover with traditional engineering courses and allows you to keep a lot of your credits and skills but also gives you the freedom of being able to also design and create. Even better would be Industrial Engineering because it would share most of the core requirements you have completed already for your Civil Engineering.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.