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The Blank Slate: Your First Design Job

The Blank Slate: Your First Design Job

When I first graduated from art school, just over 10 years ago, the bottom had fallen out of the “dot com” bubble and finding work in the digital design world was next to impossible. I was able to land a few freelance gigs here and there, but that was difficult for a student with basically no professional experience. After months of searching I finally landed my first full-time gig.

Accepting the job meant moving from Austin, Texas to Tulsa, Ok (which I had absolutely no desire to do), but it was a REAL design job. Of course looking back on it now it hardly seems “real” at all. My first job was for a small 5 person agency/print house designing and authoring interactive CD-ROMs using Macromedia Director and Authorware… both programs don’t exist anymore, to the best of my knowledge. You have to realize this was early 2000-2001 when CD-ROMs were a big deal and DVDs were just coming into play.

I learned a lot about CD-ROM development, which I haven’t put into use since, but luckily the the small firm was also a print house, so I did learn some valuable lessons in print working along side a veteran designer who had been working in print back while I was still playing with GI Joes.

Thinking back to my experience, it brings up a good question…

What was your first design job?

Tell the community about your first real design job. What was it doing? Was it good or bad? What did you learn from it?


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Nathan Brown

Nathan Brown is a graphic designer who loves working with various media. He combines traditional art styles with a little experimentation and digital flare. Nathan's works have contained everything from ink and paint to leaves and a box of dirt. Everything is fare game when it comes to his approach to art. Nathan lives in Austin, Texas where he has been working as a designer for 10 years.

7 Comments

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  1. Macromedia Director still exists! :D we were using it for our Game Authoring class 2 years ago. (we use flash now though).

    I’ve just actually graduated from my Multimedia Arts Course (4 days ago :P) and I am searching for a full time job. I’ve been freelancing since I was in 2nd year college which is quite of an advantage these days.

    I guess design graduates are facing the same dilemma. I, for one, would be willing to relocate and work on a full time and ‘real’ job that might have lower pay than to continue freelancing and working from home.

    My ideal first design job would basically be like yours :D

  2. Christopher Smith

    My first design job was at a trophy shop. My main job was to vectorize lo-res logo so they could be used in various places from laser etching to high-quality prints on trophy plates. I did this for 4 years and I saw a lot of logos over that time. It inspired me to really enjoy logos and understand what makes for great logo design.

    Now as a design studio, I offer quality logo design from my experience at my first design job.

    4 years there was probably too long though as it was pretty dead-end :)

  3. Where is the time!? Director was forced down our throats at school. Haven’t used it since then though.

    Anyway, my first job was at a small 5 person marketing & communications agency in Belgium. They mostly did BtoB work which wasn’t always as interesting, but it provided me with a lot of experience and a solid base to build my future career on. All in all a great experience.

  4. I did my first design job in 1996 while I was in my last year university. It was a set of posters and a wallet/holder for the university’s art and design departement. My mate George did the illustrations and we used images of work from each course, it looks a bit dated now but I am still very proud of it. They even let me borrow a syquest drive to take the files home to work on lol.

  5. Sergei Tatarinov

    My first design job was in 2006, when I made some graphic goodies for a Warcraft 3 gaming clan. Yeah, I was an avid RTS gamer myself. I designed their website, some banners, clan stationery and even made a gaming video! They didn’t pay me any money (I wasn’t asking in the first place) but they did send me lots and lots of stuff via post, and that I consider a payment. :)

  6. My first design job was at a photo studio. I’m working as a graphic artist and photographer. there was my first try on lay-outing in tarpaulin, especially for special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, etc. It really a good start because it really helps me to land a job as a designer at a printing press. because most of the time we working on print ads for small to large businesses.

  7. My first job in Design was at a Law Enforcement Calendar company designing ad’s and headers for the Calendars. It’s a seasonal Job and has grown dramatically since the last 3 years I’ve worked here. I love it and sure it’s small but we are like a family and hope to keep these people in my life. Going to Full Sail this year to come and hoping to expand my design into the 3D realm. Wish me Luck!

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