Today, we are joined by Harley Jackman , he is a Graphic Designer. You can view his portfolio here.

  • Tell us about your graphic design career. How did you break into graphic design, and how did you advance to where you are today?

Well, to be perfectly honest, my career has yet to even start. I graduated around 13 months ago, and still I am struggling to find full-time employment. It raises the question, is the graphic design industry over saturated? Or maybe it’s just a Melbourne thing…

  • What do you enjoy most about your career?

What I’ve enjoyed that most so far is discovering how fantastic the global design community is. I’ve gotten countless praises and comments about my work. It’s a really validating feeling to know that what you create is being noticed and inspiring to others.

  • What were the biggest inspirations for your career?

I chose graphic design as my profession because I’ve always been a creative person. I spent hours and hours as a kid playing with Lego and later on making interesting things on the computer. I like the idea that I have an opportunity to positively impact not only my own visual world, but everyone elses too.

  • What are some favorite projects you’ve completed and why?

There’s a huge list of projects I’ve done over the past few years; many of them personal or as part of my studies. Two that stand out would be the ‘MOFO Festival’ identity for 2015 and the Design Student Handbook.

For the Design Student Handbook, I was required to design a handbook for soon-to-graduate design students to help them with their journey into the real world, which in itself is kind of ironic, as I was a soon-to-graduate student myself at the time. The handbook had to be designed in the same visual style as an art or design movement as chosen by ourselves. I decided on the iconic album covers of the jazz record ‘Blue Note Records’. It was a really rewarding experience discovering all the fantastic album covers, many of them probably being out of the ordinary, design wise, when they were first released.

The MOFO Festival project is one of the few projects where I purposely tried to design something that was outside of my comfort zone. I wasn’t experienced designing in such a contemporary aesthetic before. I remember doing a lot of research on contemporary graphic design and minimalism at the time. Ultimately, it paid off, because the MOFO Festival has been my most popular and recognised university projects thus far. It was a huge confidence boost to my graphic design abilities.

  • Tell us about your graphic design education. How did you decide to study graphic design?

At first, I wanted to be an architect. Being the kid I was, all I cared about what how rich I could be when I’m older, so an architect was my choice. I get to draw pictures of houses and get paid a lot for it? Right?

I soon discovered how much math, planning and restricted, systematic and accurate drawing is required. This didn’t sound at all like what I would enjoy. A few years later, I remember being on a long road trip looking at all the signs, billboards, shop fronts, car logos etc. I wondered who are the people that ‘make’ them all? Eventually I discovered the term graphic design, and from there I was hooked.

  • In retrospect, what do you know now that you wish you knew before you pursued your graphic design education?

That a portfolio is your key to the door of the creative world. Without one, and a good one at that, you will remain locked out. When I had my first course interview after finishing high school, I thought my ‘portfolio’, a collection of messy drawing pads full of scribble sketches, glued in print outs from a crappy laser printer and annotations made with a blunt pencil, was suffice in landing a position for my desired graphic design course. Boy was I wrong. After receiving my rejection letter, I ended up doing a full time course devoted to producing and perfecting a portfolio. That year turned out to be one of the most rewarding and fun years of my life. I learn a huge amount about not only how to build a portfolio, but also a lot about my artistic and creative abilities. Armed with my supercharged weapon of a portfolio, I applied again for the next year, did my interviews and got many acceptance letters from different universities. So, my simple advice is, treat your portfolio like it’s the most important job have ever done, or will ever do. It pays off in the end.

  • Based on what you hear in the industry, what do you think are the most respected and prestigious schools, departments or programs? Does graduating from a prestigious school make a difference in landing a good job?

I think the individual is the most important factor, rather than what school they attended. Sure, some schools may have better teachers/lecturers and programs than others, but ultimately, the most important thing is the person. There are probably some extremely talented people out there that may not have any formal education at all. Treat everyone equally, I say.

  • How can prospective graphic design students assess their skill and aptitude?

Have a look at online communities, such as Behance, and compare the work students are completing with your own work. Get feedback from design professionals, a simple and polite email is all that’s needed.

  • What can students applying to graphic design schools do to increase their chances of being accepted?

As mentioned before, your portfolio is your key. A great portfolio makes for great conversation. This will increase your chances tenfold. Another tip is to know your own work, although it may sound stupid, it’s actually quite tricky to talk about your own work in an effective way. Know about the project, remember your struggles and failed concepts. This is stuff that the people interviewing you are interested in.

  • What other advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and career in graphic design?

Do it because you love it. Don’t make the mistake thinking graphic design is easy. It’s quite the opposite. Unless you are absolutely passionate about it, and live and breathe design, then it’s probably not the right thing for you. Graphic design is something you cannot definitively ‘learn’. It’s not as simple as reading a book. Rather, you are guided so that your own abilities can improve over time. You never stop learning, you are always improving and gaining more experience. However, on the flip side, I’d say it can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding careers around.

  • What are the tools of the trade that you use the most?

The Adobe Creative Suite. More specifically, Photoshop, Illustrator and In Design. If you can master these three programs, then you’re well on your way to becoming a better designer.

  • What are the hottest specialties within the graphic design field over the next decade?

I think the roles and responsibilities of a graphic designer, web designer, app developer etc will begin to merge more and more over time. Even though I dislike coding and the technical aspects of it, ultimately it will be, if not already, an important factor in landing a job or getting new clients. At the bare minimum, you should have a solid understanding of the web and emerging technologies and what they have to offer.