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Design career guide

So, you want to be a designer?

Talented designers have been in demand for centuries, and while the tools and mediums they work with has changed drastically over the years, careers in this field continue to be prevalent.

The arrival of computers has helped accelerate techniques and processes, allowing for more elaborate designs and models, and coupled with the internet, a career as a freelance designer has never been more accessible.

Whether you want to work as a freelancer, in-house or client-facing designer, it’s important to focus on one aspect of design and master it, as opposed to spreading your talents too thinly.

We’ve put together guides around five popular careers in design, outlining useful traits, day-to-day tasks, career progression, useful resources and more.

Interior Designer

As the name might suggest, an interior designer focuses on the design and aesthetics of the inside of a building. Whether it’s a living space or an office environment, interior designers must have a firm grasp on how to craft spaces that suit our needs. Regular communication with architects, engineers, contractors, craftsmen, business and home owners are all part of day-to-day activities, meaning communication skills are vital when it comes to portraying their ideas.

Average salary

  • £18,000 – £45,000 per year

Entry requirements

  • Higher education course in art or design-related subjects
  • Experience as a design assistant

Useful traits

  • Creativity – 30
  • Attention to detail – 20
  • Organisational skills – 15
  • Communication skills – 15
  • Commercially minded – 10
  • Flexibility – 10

Interior Designer Traits

Day-to-day tasks

  • Liaising with clients or colleagues to discuss ideas and requirements
  • Setting project schedules and timelines
  • Working within a budget to formulate designs to suit their needs
  • A keen eye for colour, materials, fittings and furniture is an absolute must
  • Creating in-depth drawings, first as sketches and then using computer software to formulate realistic layouts
  • Supervising any work being carried out

Career progression

  • Theatre set design
  • Visual merchandising
  • Exhibition design

Famous examples

Kelly Hoppen Learn to look not just with your eyes but with your heart. The truth is that style and taste are all relative.

Useful resources

Who to follow

What to read

Textile Designer

Textile Designers are experts at creating two-dimensional designs that can be used, often in a repetitive manner, for woven, printed or knitted materials, whether that’s clothing or furniture. The methods of doing so have changed drastically over the years, particularly with the arrival of computers, with the majority of textile designers relying on software packages to create designs.

Average salary

  • £15,000 – £40,000 per year

Entry requirements

  • Relevant degree in fashion, art & design, textiles, or surface design

Useful traits

  • Creativity – 30
  • Sketching – 30
  • Knowledge of materials – 10
  • Attention to detail – 10
  • Communication skills – 10
  • CAD software – 10

Textile Designer Traits

Day-to-day tasks

  • Liaising with clients or colleagues to discuss ideas and requirements
  • Sketching or using computer software to create designs
  • Refining designs based on feedback
  • Creating samples and refining based on feedback
  • Understanding manufacturing methods, trends and developments in the industry

Career progression

  • Senior Textile Designer
  • Product/Project Manager

Famous examples

William Morris Ornamental pattern work, to be raised above the contempt of reasonable men, must possess three qualities: beauty, imagination and order.

Useful resources

Who to follow

What to read

Product Designer

Almost everything you encounter in our day to day lives has been designed by a product designer. Whether it’s the keyboard you’re using to type, or the chair you are sitting on, hours upon hours of thought has been invested into the way they look and work.

Product designers call upon their skills and technical knowledge to solve problems and improve existing designs.

Average salary

  • £19,000 – £50,000 per year

Entry requirements

  • Degree in engineering, design, product design, or general industrial design (not mandatory)

Useful traits

  • Creativity – 20
  • Logical thinking – 20
  • Problem solving – 20
  • Technical drawing – 20
  • CAD software – 20

Product Designer Traits

Day-to-day tasks

  • Liaising with clients or colleagues to formulate and discuss the design brief
  • Coming up with ways to create a product that meets a need, investigating existing solutions in depth
  • Working with other designers, engineers and model makers throughout the design process
  • Exploring different materials and manufacturing processes
  • Using CAD software to create renders and designs
  • Making and honing prototypes

Career progression

  • Senior Product Designer
  • Creative Director

Famous examples

Philippe Starck Providing a real way to deal with the urgent needs of environmental issues that is accessible to everyone is the new fight for the democratization of design.

Useful resources

Who to follow

What to read

Fashion Designer

A widely-recognised career, fashion designers create designs for clothing and fashion. Generally speaking, they focus on one area of design, such as men or women’s clothing, sports clothing or footwear. A fashion designer may have a strict brief to follow when it comes to fabric, colour and most importantly, budget.

Average salary

  • £20,000 – £80,000 per year

Entry requirements

  • Higher education qualification
  • Experience as a design assistant
  • Portfolio of work, including mood boards, designs, and technical drawings

Useful traits

  • Creativity – 25
  • Communication – 20
  • Sketching – 20
  • Textile skills (sewing) – 20
  • Commercially minded – 10
  • Attention to detail – 5

Fashion Designer Traits

Day-to-day tasks

  • Liaising with clients or colleagues to formulate and discuss the design brief
  • Keeping up to date with trends in the industry, particularly in regards to materials
  • Producing mood boards with accompany sketches or CAD designs
  • Working with suppliers and buyers
  • Supervising manufacturing of items

Career progression

  • Senior Fashion Designer
  • Design Director
  • Head of Department

Famous examples

Karl Lagerfeld Fashion is a language that creates itself in clothes to interpret reality.

Useful resources

Who to follow

What to read

Graphic Designer

A graphic designer may work in a variety of different industries, helping companies create and maintain their important brand image. Areas of design may include websites, print, video games, product packaging, displays and more.

Average salary

  • £18,000 – £50,000 per year

Entry requirements

  • Higher education qualification in a visual art subject
  • Portfolio

Useful traits

  • Creativity – 30
  • Design software packages – 30
  • Communication – 15
  • Organisational – 15
  • Commercially minded – 10

Graphic Designer Traits

Day-to-day tasks

  • Liaising with clients or colleagues to formulate and discuss the design brief
  • Creating a variety of initial designs and sketches
  • Understanding trends in design, including colour and typography
  • Creating designs within computer design packages
  • Revising designs based on feedback
  • Exporting work in a format that adheres to specific types of media
  • Working to budgets and deadlines

Career progression

  • Senior Fashion Designer
  • Design Director
  • Head of Department
  • Freelance

Famous examples

Michael Bierut If you do good work for good clients, it will lead to other good work for other good clients. If you do bad work for bad clients, it will lead to other bad work for other bad clients.

Useful resources

Who to follow

What to read

Sources

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