Career Corner: How to Be a Graphic Designer

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Career Corner: How to Be a Graphic Designer

Michal Tucker interviews Kevin Gomes, a local graphic designer and animator

This fall, the Teen Council will be interviewing local professionals for a series called "Career Corner". The goal of this series is to give teens the inside scoop on what it takes to get different jobs. Check out Michal Tucker’s interview with Kevin Gomes, a graphic designer.

Meet Kevin Gomes, a senior graphic designer at Lockheed Martin. He shares a day in his life, what he loves most about graphic design, some tips for breaking into the field and more!

Introduce yourself.

My name is Kevin Gomes. I was born in New Delhi, India and moved to Silver Spring, Maryland in 2004. I went to college at The University of Maryland, where I was initially majoring in Architecture but switched to Studio Art and eventually ended up in the graphic design program. I started my career in graphic design interning at Discovery Channel in Downtown Silver Spring, MD. After graduating from college, I worked as a graphic artist for a small t-shirt printing company, then I became a junior graphic designer at a management consulting company called ICF, and finally, I landed at my current position with Lockheed.

I currently work as a senior graphic designer at Lockheed Martin. I am also working towards becoming a motion graphics designer as part of the next step in my graphic design career path.

What does your role as a Graphic Designer entail? Describe a work day in your life!

My role as a graphic designer entails handling a ton of various types of design requests every day. Some days I will have to deal with ads that have to be designed and prepared for printing in magazines, journals and digital displays, or I might be working on creating illustrated infographics to help our internal clients disseminate data that can be easily processed by our employees. Sometimes I get to design logos or layout reports or create graphics for emails and our websites. And if I’m lucky, I get the chance to work on a motion graphics project, which is currently my favorite thing to work on!

What sparked your interest in graphic design and what do you love most about the field?

Since childhood, I have always been artistically inclined. Throughout middle and high school, my favorite class was art, so I’ve always wanted to have a job in the creative field. I initially was going to college for a degree in architecture, but I ended up not liking it and switched to studio art, which is where I discovered graphic design. 

What I love about design the most is that it’s forever changing and evolving - there’s always something new to learn and there are so many cool people doing so many cool new things. There's no limit to people’s creativity and being able to experience that and make something interestingly satisfying of my own is what makes me want to do this for a long time.

What do you believe to be the best project you’ve done as a graphic designer so far?

The best project I have worked on as a graphic designer would be when I got to illustrate and design the graphics for an animated video for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) promoting one of their new websites. I got the chance to work with animators and motion graphic designers, which introduced me to the fascinating world of motion design. That project is where my journey into also becoming a motion graphics designer began. Another reason I like that project so much is because we won a Silver Addy Award for Illustration. The award was a huge validation and appreciation for all the hard work and effort we put together working overtime and sleepless nights. 

See a few stills of Kevin’s graphics and links to view his animated video below:

CDC Human

CDC Youtube

What is your favorite graphic design tool or app?

It’s very hard for me to pick a single favorite design app as there are different apps that I use in conjunction to create most of my work. But I can rank my top 3 design apps currently, which are: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects. I rely on any of the two out of the three for most of my work so it would be unfair to say that I have one particular favorite. For me, it's like asking a parent to pick their favorite child - I love them all equally!

What advice or resources would you give to someone who is looking to develop their graphic design skills?

If you haven't already, immediately start learning how to use any of the design apps you’re interested in most. In college, you’ll be taught principles of graphic design but not how to use the software to create your design. If you learn how to use the tools effectively now, then you can spend less time trying to figure out operating something and just execute on your creative ideas. I self-learned Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects by clicking all the buttons/keys and by trial and error (and I'm still finding out new things to learn to this day).

As for developing your design skills, just keep making stuff for fun. The more you just make stuff, the more knowledge and experience you gain that can be applied to future projects. I like to do free design work for my friends in my spare time or just make up fun projects for myself so that I’m not just designing for work all day (doing the same kind of work over and over can get repetitive and boring very fast!). There are a ton of youtube videos that can help you with learning how to use these design software/applications. Piximperfect is a great youtube channel for people wanting to learn how to use Adobe Photoshop. Also, check with your high school or university if they have a higher education program with Adobe that gives students and teachers free or heavily discounted access to all their design programs for a limited time.

If you weren’t a graphic designer, what career would you have?

I would probably stick with something in the creative field, so most likely I would be an artist. I loved doing printmaking classes in college, and still plan to someday continue doing screen-printing, woodcut and intaglio and keep making art.

What are your interests outside of work?

I enjoy being outdoors. I go on bike rides and on hikes every chance I get. Recently, I’ve also started to enjoy kayaking/canoeing. When I’m indoors (especially now due to Covid-19), I enjoy watching indie movies, making digital art for friends and family or self-learning motion design in After Effects.

If you don’t mind sharing, where can someone go to see more of your work?

My graphic design work/portfolio can be viewed at www.kgomesdesign.com