The easy answer is to start when you’re young or as soon as possible because you’ll never be as young as you are right now. – waiting won’t help you. I have had an interest in Graphic Design for as long as I can remember and I began to really dive into methodologies and building up my skills around the age of 11. By the time I graduated from high school, I already had a few years of freelancing under my belt and got a full-time design & marketing job by age 19.
Graphic Design is a mixture of experience, skill and your taste. To develop these you require patience, good practice and most importantly mindfulness.
Developing your taste or commonly referred to as your “eye for design” and is easily the most difficult piece in this (unless you’re impatient) and that’s why you need to be mindful of your surroundings, current trends and yourself.
Being mindful of design around you is like working out your design “muscles” – you are essentially studying throughout the day and picking up cues here and there. Additionally, you should watch TED talks, Keynotes (my favorites include those of Google I/O and Apple’s WWDC) and listen to podcasts to understand what the experienced members in the industry are doing and allows you to ponder how you can improve to more like them – or even on how you can eventually improve what they are doing (but for now, just listen and learn)
Surrounding yourself with more design and being mindful is so important because it leads to “good practice” – you’ll start to see what you’ll want to learn and know when it looks right! Practice is crucial. Like with most things, it let’s you improve try new things you’ve learned, acquire new skills and apply them in a real world scenario.
Lastly, the catalyst in all of this is time. You need time to make mistakes, learn, get critique, and practice. You may not be able to jump into a project for a big company in the first year of working with graphic or visual design, but if you’re patient and continue to focus on learning and applying that, you’ll be on the right path.
Here’s a video that I really like called “Nobody Tells This to Beginners”
If all of this sounds good to you, jump in to the technical skills, and once again, surround yourself! If you want to get started right away, for beginners, I suggestfor Windows users and GIMP for Windows, Mac and Linux users. If you know this is what you want to do for your career you may want to look into a Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, but that’s a little more expensive than the free alternatives above.
Start doing everything to “develop your eye” and continue to improve your technical skills by doing online tutorials for the graphic program of your choice.