How to Become a Graphic Designer Without Going to Design School

graphics designer designing on a computer

Although graphic designing is a lucrative job, not everyone can afford to go to school to acquire such skills. That can be because of the high cost of acquiring degrees which also takes time to finish. However, one can be the best graphic designer without stepping into any school for such skills. You’ll realize that most junior designers are hired based on their portfolio or years of experience and not much qualification. 

Do you know how to become the best graphic designer without going to any design school? Read on and get more explanations on how to achieve this. 

1. Understand the Basics Of how to become a graphic designer

If you want to be the best graphic designer without going to school, take your time to learn all the basics. 

  • Would you mind not rushing to do things like photoshop as it won’t make you a designer? Instead, learn how to draw, which doesn’t necessarily need you to be in any class. You also don’t need to draw the first best picture as this is a learning process that will advance with time. But ensure whatever you draw, you’re able to sketch without much pressure comfortably. You can learn how to draw using YouTube or different books as You Can Draw in 30 Days. Do this every day for a month and see some improvements.
  • You should also understand the graphic design theory using books such as picture this, a storybook with all the foundations of graphic design. For example, learn more about colors, how to design with a grid, and topography. Also, understand how user experience works on The Design of Everyday Things or don’t make me think.  
  • Also, learn how to write to avoid having mockups with many placeholder text. Instead, be a good designer who can also communicate effectively using the right words. Remember, while you’re writing, your audience are humans, so write for them. Avoid writing in an academic tone, which seems more serious. Instead, look for Voice and Tone to understand the best ways to communicate and relate with your audience. 

2. Understand How to Use Photoshop and Illustrator

Another thing you should know how to use is photoshop or illustrator to become a self-taught designer. You can start learning how to use illustrator as that’s what you’ll use mostly for designing logos or icons. You can use various books or online on YouTube. Go for the style that best suits you from different books like adobe illustrator classroom in a book or vector basic training. 

After that, you can learn how to use photoshop to design your works and earn good money without going to school. You can spare some hours daily to go through different tutorials and see how you’ll improve within no time. 


After knowing all the basics and now understanding how to use various tools, it’s time to invest. These investments are what will push you to achieve your dreams with ease.  You first need a computer which will not disappoint you during the course. Then invest in the best software like photoshop, which will need enough space from an OS and great speed. So, it’s advisable to check on the specification of the software before buying your computer to avoid inconveniences. 

Also, it would help if you went for the latest models of computers which are compatible with the graphic design software. For example, you can work with a Mac computer which most graphic designers use. But don’t forget to work within your budget to avoid hurting your pocket. You can even go for the cheaper computers with the correct specifications. 

4. Know More About Specialties; HOW TO BECOME A GRAPHIC DESIGNER

You should also have specialties like if it’s designing a mobile app, website, or infographics. You can even try each out and go for the one that suits you better. After that, learn how to design a good logo and develop it into a brand by creating business cards. To understand how to design mobile apps, you can use a tutorial and become a pro. You can also read Tapworthy, which is a book on iPhone design, and see some improvements. Finally, if you specialize in designing infographics, don’t shy away from printing the designed materials to widen your business. 

Don’t forget learning how to design a web is an integral part of your career. You can know this on Don’t Make Me Think or The Principles of Beautiful Web Design and make your web impressive. You can even take your time and go through some of the websites with great designs and take some tricks from them.


The most important thing that will sell you as a graphic designer without going to school is your portfolio. Because of this, you should strive to build your portfolio even without having much experience. The best thing about creating this portfolio is that you don’t need to have real clients to build your portfolio. Instead, do your projects using the following ideas;

  • Create silly t-shirt designs
  • Look for poorly designed websites and redesign them
  • Search for some ideas for an iPhone app and try it out. 
  • You can also join any team at startup weekend and work on some projects over the weekend.
  • If you can, design for some non-profit organizations free of charge and attract other clients through them. 

But avoid including all your projects in your portfolio and only use your best designs. You can also steal designs and use them on your portfolio to attract clients. You’ll later use yours when you’re comfortable and confident with your crafts. 

6. Look for First Job as a Graphic Designer

After doing all the above steps, your next move should be how to get a job. Be confident in yourself and go to different workshops for designers and try your luck. Suppose you’re lucky to get one to learn how to work with other designers. If you do so, you’ll increase your chances of getting employment opportunities. During your interactions with developers, learn how to use HTML or CSS, which are currently the best-paying design jobs on demand. 

But don’t forget to work on your portfolio during this period and ask for other jobs from friends and relatives. You can also look for jobs on LinkedIn and ask for introductions from the people working in the big companies. But never stop learning, as this is what will sell you out to the best employers and, if possible, look for side jobs to keep you going. 

Tips To Make You a Successful Self-Taught Designer

If you want to be a successful graphic designer, some tips will make that easier. Do the following;

Be creative

If you want to beat competition from those who went to school to learn graphic design, you’ve got to be ahead of the rest. Be creative to attract employers without much hustle. Use your free time to perfect your art and change some tricks. You can use tutorials, do different projects and design lots of quantity works and be ahead of the rest.

Be unique

If you want to sell yourself in the graphic designing world, offer something unique. You can identify your niche and create a different idea from the rest that will sell you. For example, you can specialize in hand lettering if the designers around you aren’t in this niche and make good money. Through this, you’ll build a name quickly and beat the competition. 

Understand the business of design

You should also learn the business tricks, especially if you’re expecting to be a freelancer. Know how to negotiate with different clients, make a business proposal, and charge on various designs. You should also know how to write a contract, time yourself, and invoice your clients. 

Work close with good communities

If you want to excel in this career, be part of an active community with different activities and dynamics. You can either work with an online community or offline communities. If you’re a member of an online community, be ready to abide by their ethics and avoid being irrelevant. 

You can make good use of archives to avoid asking unnecessary questions that will make you be considered a spammer. Also, be active during group discussions where relevant questions are being asked and share where possible. 

Be dedicated

You should also be ready to commit to this journey which may seem complicated if you’re not serious. To achieve this, be careful with things that might interfere with your concentration, like Facebook, WhatsApp, or email. You can also avoid some companies like being around your girlfriend, friends who might want your attention most of the time. 

If you can create your workspace in some cool room, the better. Remember, you’re out to compete with those who went to school, so some seriousness, as you train, is essential. You can have your time for everything to avoid losing your social touch.

Keep focus

Staying on track can be challenging if you don’t have the determination and the right attitude to achieve your goals. To avoid abandoning your graphic design dream, stay on board. You can do this by choosing what works for you and also what you understand. You should also know what you want to achieve after dedicating your time to learn how to be the best graphic designer. 

Know the kind of work you want to do, how much you intend to earn from it, and your business status. It would help if you also had clear guidelines on what you want to learn, your social status, and the designs you want to create. Having this will make this journey easy and achievable. You’ll also not lose focus easily with such aims. 

Make Google your friend

If you want to learn how to be a graphic designer without going to school but with fewer challenges, let google your best friend. Through Google, you’ll get a lot of helpful resources that will make this an easy thing. You’ll get free articles, tutorials, software, and books talking about graphic design online. Getting a solution to a problem online is also easy as google has most of the answers. 

All you need is a good laptop or phone and network coverage, then key in your question and get answers within no time. You’ll realize that this will save you time, unlike looking for a friend who might be busy elsewhere when you’re in dire need. Since you can also watch videos online, you should make good use of and advance your career. 

Things That Will Make You a Successful Graphic Designer Without Going to School

Although you may not have the credentials to prove that you’re a graphic designer, some things can make you successful. Remember, it’s how you handle your customers and relate with other stakeholders in the field that can sell you to the world. 

To be successful, do;

Network widely

You can go beyond your boundaries if you network correctly with the right people. Connect with other designers and professionals in the industry to learn survival tactics. Through the connections, you can be lucky and get a better position that will see you rising. Networking can also get you new customers, which is good for your venture.

Work on your online reputation

It’s easier to land a client online in this digital era than through the traditional ways. That is because most people spend much time on various social media platforms doing different works. Take advantage of that and grow your online reputation by being active on your social media accounts. You can post your designs regularly and earn a following, and also get trustworthy customers. Gaining a huge following will make people trust your work, helping you get jobs effortlessly. 

Market yourself

You can’t invest your time without expecting something good in return. But then, to get the promising returns, you must make your clients know about your services. Market yourself in all the possible manners you can. You can deliver better work to get referrals, use social media to sell your services, or ask friends to tell their friends. If you market your new venture, you’ll get promising returns and realize your dreams in the long run. But ensure you understand how to relate with your customers to maintain a healthy relationship. 

Be patient

For you to make it in the graphic designing industry, you need to be patient. Be patient while learning how to be a graphic designer without going to school as it’s involving. Also, it would help if you had patience while pushing through the market looking for clients. Remember, you’ll be competing with professionals who at times have better connections from their classmates. 

Don’t forget it might take you time to get your first client after completing the learning, so be patient, for they’ll eventually come. Another area where you need patience is when using the tools, which can at times disappoint. With patience, you’re sure when your time comes, you’ll eventually make it.


Graphic designing is a good job that can earn you a lot of money if you’re serious about it. However, you don’t need to go to school to learn how to be a graphic designer. That is because of several tutorials, books, and other resources to be a better designer. To succeed in this journey, though, you’ve got to get some things right. Also, you need some tips that will enable you to beat the competition and earn reasonable amounts without investing much money.