Stuck in graphic design hell, how do you get out?

I was in a Wacom interview with Rod Maxwell and Rayce Bird earlier this week. When a question came in from Vince Collier that kind of hit home with me because, I’ve been there myself … In fact, I’ll bet every designer has.

I’m currently stuck in Graphic Design Hell and I’m trying to get back to my first love of illustration and character design. I already LIVE in Photoshop and Illustrator. Two questions, 1. What OTHER Software do you recommend learning? 2. Where do you recommend frequenting to try and break in to the Character Design world? – Vince Collier


Rayce answers the question extremely well … It’s not about the apps that you use, it’s all about the art/design that you’re aiming to create. At the end of the day Photoshop isn’t art, Illustrator isn’t art, a tool is just a tool but, what you’ve made is art.

For uh, digital illustration? I do like sketchbook pro, I think that it’s a good app I think it’s kind of a simple layout”
“It’s important to not get caught in the tool, if photoshop or illustrator define what you can do as an artist then, that’s gonna hurt ya . You have to know what you want to do as an artist, and use the tool -Rayce Bird

Now, I might not be a creature developer, or even want to be but, it seems like Vince would like to be. I love layouts, mostly for print advertisements, big layouts, small layouts and nearly everything in between. I get stuck in graphic design hell quite often … loading up InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator to create yet another effective, yet monotonous advertisement.

I find myself loving pencil and paper and jumping back and forth in my art, taking photos of scribbles and then trying to vectorize them for my silly illustrations at 1dollarimages but currently, I’m having a rekindling of interest in web design. Brushing off the css rust and dusting off some books so that I can get the look and feel that I’m after for my latest hairballed idea has brought some passion back into my day, or maybe given me a new sense of purpose.

How do you get out of “Graphic Design Hell”? Leave your comments below or on any of my social channels and as always like, favorite, share, retweet, +1 or whatever if you enjoyed this post and follow me for more.


415 Replies to “Stuck in graphic design hell, how do you get out?”

  1. Quick summary to what lead up to that question. I grew up with a pencil in my hand and graduated with an art Degree from UGA with an idea that I might some day work in comics or even in movie concept work. Got the first job I could find in “Graphic Design” to be in the art world and pay the bills thinking I would eventually get to do what I really loved. I have gotten really good at what I do and I’m one of the best in the industry that I have become a specialist in and have kind of made a name for myself in that but it’s not what I really have a passion for. Thanks to that, I’ve become really good at adapting and learning new software for being creative and an expert at Photoshop and Illustrator and all the Graphic Design industry standards. So, I have at least learned how to use that and traditional art to create.

    Well, 20 years later I’ve kept on “making a living” and realized how much time went by without me really doing what I wanted to do. I have started making time to draw again and I’ve started pursuing freelance in illustration more so that page layout and packaging design. I would love to get in to Character design and other illustration geared more towards and animated, cartoon, fun vein but finding someone to break in with is almost impossible when you haven’t built up a portfolio. The “freelance” boards are worthless because they are smothered with lowballing international art factories or people that want to pay $20 to illustrate a full kids book. I am trying to keep my pencil going and practice, practice, practice while trying to come up with “my style”.
    All that to say, the question I asked was really a 2-part one. The first was about the software, just to see what they liked using. I know nothing remotely replaces talent and good ol’ pencil and paper but I was more wondering what they liked to use and if there is anything other than Adobe stuff (which I’ve got down) that the character design industry seems to like. The other part was more about where good places are to network and make connections to try and get good illustration/character art opportunities. Like I said, the freelance sites seem to be pretty worthless. If anyone has any suggestions it would be so much appreciated.

  2. I hear ya about the “making a living”, hell I can barely do that. 😉 I’ve mostly steered clear of the freelance boards for that same reason. I love to design and all but, when you’re being undercut to the point that your time is worthless then it takes pride out of your work.

    I don’t have any answers on how to advance into illustration and creature design. Where I live I’m probably just lucky to be doing what I am. I network mostly online and by leaving business cards all over town.

    Thanks for visiting Vince, hopefully someone’s got a better answer for you. 🙂

  3. Thanks for hosting the discussion. I am blessed that I have been able to make a living in an artistic field of some kind, just the creative side of me is screaming to get out now after being bottled up so long. That 10 year old boy with a pencil drawing out of comic books. Trying to get back to him!

  4. Sure! This blog is kind of a way for me to reflect on recent projects and things. Usually a week or so after they publish I’ll take a few hours to kind of review my advertisements or whatever. (Though, I have kind of fallen short the past little while)

    Hopefully I didn’t just spam you to death on g+, I shared this with a couple handfuls of communities to hopefully get a discussion going.