Pursuing a graphic design career


File Photo/The Lion's Roar

Near the end of every semester, art students can display their art projects such as graphic design at the senior exhibition in the Contemporary Art Gallery. The effect of graphic design in the world can be seen in movie posters, T-shirts and advertisements.

Nearly every corner of the modern world features graphic designs on movie posters, T-shirts, websites and advertisements.

Graphic design garners attention worldwide, and Gary Keown, professor of graphic design, has been watching it evolve for the last 20 years. Keown said his interest in the field began in early childhood, thanks in part to his father.

“Even at a young age, I was fascinated with signage and began building signage and advertising,” recalled Keown. “Also, my father was in advertising, and that certainly had some influence as well.”

In 1996, Keown joined the visual art and design department and began developing the university’s graphic design curriculum. The department now offers a bachelor of arts with a concentration in graphic design. According to the program’s website, course studies are built on professional practices, which emphasize creative problem solving and industry standard procedures to prepare students for the graphic design industry.

Keown described the four-year program as one that explores various types of graphic design including publication, packaging, brochures and corporate identity.

Keown explained, “Students also gain experience in motion design for movie and television application, web design and environmental design that includes physical projects such as signage, point-of-purchase, interior retail environments and ‘wayfinding’ or directional signage applications.”

Once a student graduates from the graphic design program, they may face stiff competition for job opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, employment for graphic designers is expected to grow four percent from 2016 to 2026. This rate is slower than the average for all occupations.

Opportunities for employment exist both within Louisiana and around the world.

Keown said, “There are alumni students from our graphic design program who are working in various advertising agencies, print companies, television stations and other venues in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mandeville, Covington Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Seattle, Washington DC, Vietnam, New York City, London and so on.”

Keown noted the existence of 160 types of specialty work that a graphic designer might produce as technology changes.

“It is an exciting field that continues to change through technology and conceptual base,” explained Keown. “It will continue to evolve. It has been suggested by large firms in New York City, for example, that Times Square in the future will have 3D figure projections greet you on 7th Avenue promoting some product.”

The responsibilities that modern graphic designers face are not spared from the field’s continued evolution.

Keown shared his experience with the more recent changes to accountability.

“The graphic designer is responsible for more things than in the past,” stated Keown. “Not only is that person responsible for the creation of the design work but is also responsible for the technical aspects of creating the publication, ad, package design, etc. through the pre-press and production aspects.”

According to Keown, research and creativity are not the only important aspects of graphic design.

“The most important advice for a student pursuing a career in graphic design is to persevere,” shared Keown.