Trends come and go, new technologies allow us to learn new things, taste increases and new design stars emerge. This is a catchup of how graphic design looks in 2016, everything from how to educate yourself, hardware and software to trends and social media.
There are undoubltly some amazing formal education options such as design academies and universities, that will ground you in graphic design but as we all know, it is not accessible to everyone. Fortunately, it’s 2016 so there are many more avenues to learn something such as graphic design. Now, graphic design isn’t like law, medicine or accountancy, meaning you don’t need a licence to practice; the wonderful thing about design is, anyone can become a designer, a granny, a 13 year old, an ex-con, literally anyone.
All you need are a few tools such as: a computer, pad, pencil, latest software, drive and dedication and, your on your way. There are many online alternatives to learning design both paid and free; like any profession, it will naturally take a while to master but the learning process may take up to a year with dedication.
In previous years, the two giants fighting for the graphic design software market share were macromedia and Adobe, if you’ve never heard of Macromedia then it is safe to say who won that battle. In 2005, Adobe bought Macromedia as well as its software and incorporated this into their own; now we have: Adobe Flash, Dreamweaver and Fireworks thus, Adobe became the design software giant that they are today.
When I started design, I certainly used all things Adobe but now there are a few alternatives that undoubtedly rival in power to Adobe software. Now, Graphic design covers a range of topics such as: photo manipulation and editing, logo design, vector illustration, print design and production. (Free alternatives will not be listed)
Photo manipulation and editing
Industry standard: Adobe Photoshop
Alternatives: Adobe Lightroom, Corel Draw, Affinity Photo, Xara Designer Pro X11/ Photo & Graphic Designer 365, Pixelmator 3.5 Canyon
Logo design and vector illustration
Industry standard: Adobe Illustrator
Alternatives: Corel Draw, Affinity Designer
Print design and production
Industry standard: Adobe InDesign
Alternatives: Quark Xpress
In the past, programs cost an awful lot with one up front cost to purchase them however, with the new cloud technology, Adobe have opted for the subscription based alternative where you can pay for a single program monthly or multiple programs monthly (forever of course). The prices range from about £16 per program to £45 for the whole suite which can be downloaded via the cloud on more than one computer (two is the max, for obvious reasons). The good news is the programmes are much more accessible and affordable than ever before.
In the early stages of what we now call Graphic design, the latest hardware was the printing press, a giant machine which used physical blocks of type with ink rolled onto them which was then printed on to paper; very cumbersome and laborious although, that style now has become a vintage style in design. Fast forward to 2016 and you have more tools at your disposal for design than Batman does on his utility belt. A designers tool kit often consists of an Apple Mac laptop or desktop, a Wacom tablet, various pens, multiple hard drives and apps.
Like any industry design has trends, to name a few popular ones this year: Flat 2.0, New Retro, bold, playful typography, Motion, Minimalism logos and Geometry. They generally come and go; even if you are not one for trends, its good to be aware of what is happening in the design stratosphere.
Social media has brought design to the forefront and more and more people are encountering great design without going far; I used to collect numerous magazines for years just to get my design fix and info. Now, there are countless Instagram profiles with a sea of great design. It has not only become an effective medium to spread your design but also to get reference points from.
With the rise of social platforms, many designers have doubled down on blogging and also vlogging; this is useful not only to drive more traffic to their sites but also to give their opinions whilst educating the community and the world.
Thats a 2016 lo down on what graphic design looks like