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How to get started as a Graphic Designer in Malta! (2019)

Get started as a Graphic Designer in Malta – All the necessary steps you MUST know!

My path was kind of a strange one when compared to others; as I started studying and working within accounting but ended up finally following what my heart really desires. It was a kind of black hole going into this, but finally I can call myself a graphic designer and working as one in Malta. It was no straightforward task, but now I can point out what could be done and what not. 

Following, you’ll find all the data compiled. This took a lot of time and experience; however, things are always subject to change. Still though, this should be enough to get you started! We’re always here to help you, we’re always trying our best to create the best outcome of work for our society.  

Having said that, I will be providing a context of what this article consists of, part-by-part. Furthermore, if anyone has got a feedback regarding the article and its layout, we will be more than happy to hear, we’re always open to suggestions. 

 

Part 1: Understanding 

  • What is Graphic Design?  
  • What Does Graphic Design consist of? 
  • Is there a future for a Graphic Designer in Malta? 
  • Is there any potential for a Graphic Designer in Malta? 

 

Part 2: Steps to take 

  • Part-time vs Full-time studying in Malta. 
  • How and from where should you start? – What do you need to become a Graphic Designer in Malta? 
    • Entry Level – Get starting in Design in Malta without any knowledge in Design 
    • After learning the basic essentials, what are the requirements into moving forward? 
      • Taking different scenarios. 
  • How long does studying Graphic Design in Malta take? Which path is the best for you? 

 

Having given you the context behind my motivation to share this information with you, it gives you an insight of who I am. I never settle. Never settle when you are uncertain. Try to understand what needs doing and what not; how to do it and most importantly, THE WHY. Why did I want to start studying graphic design; when I knew nothing? What aspired me to become a Graphic Designer? Everything will be discussed as per follows. 

 

Part 1: Understanding

 

What is Graphic Design? 

 

As Stated in http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/accounting.html 

Graphic design is the craft of creating visual content to communicate messages. Applying visual hierarchy and page layout techniques, graphic designers use typography and pictures to meet users’ specific needs and focus on the logic of displaying elements in interactive designs to optimize the user experience. 

 

In simple terms, the art or skill of combining text and pictures as a visual for advertisements, magazines, or books. A process that helps anyone communicate a message in a perhaps simpler manner. This mean of communication has been used for years and years, all the way as primates, from painting in caves to evolving as today’s humans and creating all of this digital art.  This form of expression is unlimited. As any other skill, it is only limited to your level of knowledge. As much as you widen your spectrum and specialise, you will become better and better. You never know what you don’t know, so expose yourself to different forms of art, you would know when you would find your niche. 

 

What Does Graphic Design consist of? 

 

There are A LOT of forms of expressions in Graphic Design. Numerous disciplines to choose from. The beautiful thing about this is that nearly all of the disciplines tie in together. Having said that, I have compiled an outline of approximately all the main different forms and thus making it slightly easier to understand. Keep in mind that art is a variable within itself, meaning that it always evolves. It might be that tomorrow or even today, that a new form of art is being developed and evolved. So, this consists as per follows: 

 

  • 2D – 2 dimensional: Illustrations, photo manipulations, Vectors etc. 
  • 3D – 3 Dimensional: 3D models, Scenes, Characters, etc. 
  • Video & Animation: Video Direction, Animation, gifs, etc. 

 

Is there a future for a Graphic Designer in Malta? 

 

As a designer there is always a future. A creative skill is one of the mostly sought after. Not only in Malta but everywhere. If someone is needing to communicate anything visually, you as a Graphic Designer are going to be required. So, yes, there is a future for Graphic Design. It could be you that develops that new form; so don’t be scared to take the leap and explore.  

To further back-up this claim, any advertising agency needs a graphic designer. They need you to evoke their message. Not only that, any marketing team needs one, because it is nearly impossible for a marketing strategy to work without a designer on board. If someone is opening any business, big or small, they need you to structure their brand, their identity. So, YES! There is a future, for you, as a graphic designer in Malta. 

 

Is there any potential for a Graphic Designer in Malta? And what are the options?

 

There is huge potential for the simple reason that art is always evolving. There is always room to progress. Always room to grow bigger. It’s up to you to search (like you’re doing) and have some kind of interest. It’s up to you to invest time, work and dedication for this ultimate goal. There is no magic formula for this, if you believe in your goals and ambitions, I am sure you will find a way. 

Having said that, you’ll need to seek what drives towards your goal, what is in line with your ambition. It takes time and even some hits on some of your characteristics. These will drive you. Potential lives within us; so, it is up to you to chase it.  

We are lucky as well as becoming a Graphic Designer in Malta is something that is possible. With the influx of the economy and constant business openings, these are all good signs for us. If you’re just starting and you’re into gaining some experience and establishing your name, there are a lot of companies which offer internships and you could grow from there if you’re in that early stage. Having said that, you might be searching for something higher after some experience, thus there are a lot of companies which offer different kind of Graphic Design jobs in different sectors – from Senior Designer, to Marketing Advisor to anything within the marketing and design sector, the list could go on, however, I will be going over some jobs within the following steps. 

 

Part 2: Steps to take 

 

To limit duplicate content, all the explanation for part-time vs full-time could be found in another blog post, being, How to get started into Accounting in Malta 

 

How and from where should you start? – What do you need to become a Graphic Designer in Malta?

 

According to how you look at it, this might differ. Becoming a Graphic Designer in Malta or anywhere for that matter could be split up into different manners.  

  • Learning and studying on your own. 
  • Join an institution and take a structured course. 
  • We will be going through these further down within this blog. 

This is due to a lot of factors. First of all, mastering a skill takes a lot of time, however, graphic design is slightly different. A skill where you could showcase your work within the form of a portfolio. Yes, it is true that you could do that with any other skill, but with graphic design it is something particular.  

It is good to have a CV, but having a portfolio is something else. Never underestimate the power of a portfolio. So, having said that, I’ll be going over the step-by-step of what needs to be accounted for to get started as a Graphic Designer in Malta: 

  • What type of Graphic Designer are you? 
    • Trying different Forms and styles of design. 
    • The right tools to work with – pc, software, etc. 
    • Getting some kind of education 
    • Build a portfolio. 
    • Specialise  
    • Some kind of experience with a client.  

The Main 3 checklist pillars to keep in mind are the following: – We will go into depth within the blog. 

  • Education 
  • Portfolio 
  • Experience 

 

Having pointed out these outlines, it is good to plan out and plot down paths to structure your mission. How will you become a Graphic Designer? First, however, you need to do your homework and assess your current situation – the time you have got and how do you think it is best to execute these given outlines.  

 

How do you get started? – Getting the right tools.

 

I knew I couldn’t work with my old PC, so I invested in a mid-range Laptop – good enough to run programs for 2D execution and for maybe occasional 3D rendering(Blender 3D is a huge tool which is for free!). After buying my pc, I subscribed to the Adobe creative cloud program so I could get hold of the 3 main programs.  I searched for a lot of beginner guides on YouTube to get myself started and knowing what goes where. In the meantimeI watched a lot of speed paintings and learned a lot from just watching. 

For 2D art:

Furthermore, we will be going over the two main Graphic Design study structures. 

 

Structure 1 – Learning and studying on your own(2 years – Any) 

 

I am an advocate of this style. I was studying to become an accountant but totally changed my route to become a graphic designer. However, I was at a delicate point of my career, where I couldn’t stop working because of financial responsibilities but wanting to change my careers direction.  

 

I knew absolutely nothing about graphic design and what it meant. After a countless amount of time searching and learning what the term actually meant, I embarked on a series of website surfing on the search of ideas of what I kind of art really attracted my interest. I marked my starting point, that 3D infused with 2D art is what I wanted to learn.  

 

Getting some kind of education

 

I was still working at this point but I needed to study and get actually qualified as designer. But how do you become qualified as a designer (in 2D) and what are the steps? 

  • Graphic Designer Associate (level 5) 
  • Adobe Certified Expert (Level 6) 

 

Graphic Designer Associate (3-6 months) 

 

There are plenty of ways to get started into becoming a Graphic Designer Associate. You could join an institute here in Malta or you could do the exams online. To become certified, you would need to do 3 exams consisting of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Finishing these 3 exams would give you some credibility and it would give you a huge boost in a successful career.  

 

  • We suggest Ice Malta for this specific course as they guide you and make it easy to follow through. Constant help and very flexible options available. 

 

I myself started on this route. It took me a bit of time to get used to studying, working and extra activities in between. But as yourself, I never shy away from a challenge. Doing just this however, was not enough. I needed to work on a decent portfolio and as important, I needed study for the Adobe Certified Expert. 

 

Seek for the style you prefer, prior to specialising and moving on to the Adobe Certified Expert. 

 

This is a massive part before taking the next step. As you’re still getting started, it’s not wise to tackle and trying to master different disciplines, as mastering each program takes a good couple of years each. It is good to know a couple, but it’s crucial to find out what you prefer – Techniques, styles and software you prefer to use.  

 

So, how will find out what style you prefer?(3-6 months) 

  • Start tackling small and different projects. 
  • This will allow you to broaden your understanding. By dipping your finger in different styles, you will find out what you prefer most, thus, making it easier in what you should target to specialise.  
  • Surf the web. 
  • Give attention to what attracts your eye. Each branding campaign – different styles, vector vs raster, illustrator vs photoshop etc. 

 

After doing so, it would be a very wise idea if you start mastering the skill that you have chosen to master first.  

 

Start building your portfolio.(5-9 months) – This counts for any study structure. 

 

Your portfolio is all your showcased hard work. The skills that you love mostall in one place. Building your portfolio is the best tip we could give you. As a designer, it’s absolutely essential to have a portfolio. As you’ll do the research on other designers, you’ll find out that the one thing in common between all designers is that we have all got a portfolio.  

 

So, what are the benefits of building a portfolio? 

  • Getting the relevant experience within the program you’ve chosen – as you need a couple of years to understand the program inside out. 
  • This will help you set up nicely when doing the certified expert. 
  • Press all the buttons! 
  • You’re building experience to showcase it to your future employers. 
  • You’ll be constantly refining, getting better at your set skill.  
  • You’ve got something to show, something to back up as a vote of confidence with your certifications.   

Adobe Certified Expert (Level 6) (2-4 months) 

 

At this stage you should be at a good level and stage. You’re feeling confident with the program and pressed all the buttons. It is always a great idea to specialise, even more so if you’re trying to endorse your word against others. 

By doing so, you will show that you know the program inside out, and you know what you’re talking about when speaking about your artworks, thus here where the exam comes in.  

It is quite something this exam, where you’ll be needing to know everything about the program and why it works that way. It consists of a 1 exam as you’re specialising in 1 discipline at a time. You could study the Adobe Certified Expert alone or with an institution.  

  • Ice Malta provide this course according to demand.  

If you’re studying alone, this is mainly what you would be needing. 

  • We suggest getting these notes – as we think it prepares you best for the exam. 
  • Mock tests – We suggest the following. It’s crucially important to learn them inside out, as they’ve got some really good exams to test your skill. They prepare you for the right exam format and for even potential questions.  
  • Buying the Exam – After you feel totally confident and ready, you just need to go to the following link, buy and schedule the exam. Examination sessions takes place at the provided institutes on the adobe site. Usually, Computer Domain and ICE Malta offer this kind of service. 

 

Structure 2 – Joining an institution/school(3 -7 years) 

 

I personally have not gone through this path way, but I know fellow designers who have done so. I personally had my reasons on why, due to timing, financial stability and maybe work happiness. So, I’ll go through all the Pros and Cons of joining an institution and studying as such. 

 

Pros 

  • A structured format 
  • Knowing the outcome – getting a degree, more stable career as you know where you’re heading and what the next step 
  • Touching up on different forms and practices 
  •  Building a portfolio while studying 
  • Looks good on the CV 
  • Guidance from teachers and fellow members.  

 

Cons 

  • Time Consuming – Sort of 
  • It all depends if you’re full-time or not, the responsibilities as per stage, etc. 
  • If you’ve got certain certifications you could slingshot to a higher course which the minimum would still be of 3 years. 
  • The fulltime vs part-time debate 
  • Might not specialise on what you really like and touch up on a lot of things but not what you really love.  
  • Ending up focusing on different things when in reality it is best to do what you love. 

Having said that, I’ll be discussing the two main institutions that provide you with this kind of format.  

  • MCAST 
  • University of Malta 

 

If you’re a total beginner like I was, it is good to start from the basics. I will guide you through the path, step by step regarding what should you being expecting. 

 

MCAST – Fulltime 

    • Nothing is required 
    • 1 Year 
    • MCAST Foundation Certificate or
      2 SEC/O-Level/SSC&P (Level 3) passes
      Compulsory: Art, or Art and Design, or Textiles and Design 
    • 1 Year 
    • MCAST Diploma in Art and Design or
      4 SEC/O-Level /SSC&P (Level 3) passes
      Compulsory: Art or Art and Design or Textiles and Design or Design & Technology 
    • 2 Years 
    • MCAST Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design and Interactive Media or
      MCAST Advanced Diploma in Art and Design or
      MCAST Advanced Diploma in Photography or
      MCAST Advanced Diploma in Creative Media Production or
      2 A-Level passes and 2 I-Level passes
      Compulsory A-Level: Art, or Art and Design, or Graphical Communication, or equivalent 
    • 3 Years 

 

University of Malta – Part-time & Fulltime available. 

If you’re a mature student the following are to differ.  

    • (level 3) First you would need to do your O-levels – for that matter, having Art, English, Maths as compulsory.  
    • Time depends but we think that in 2 Years these exams should be viable. We estimate this process takes from (1-3 years) 
    • (Level 4) Then you would need to join or Junior College or Higher Secondary. They are both excellent schools, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Here you would need to get 2 A-level Subjects – Art (grade C) being compulsory and 4 Intermediates. 
    • 2 years 
    • To be registered as regular students in the Course applicants shall:Either(a) satisfy the general requirements for admission as specified in the Admission Regulations of the University and be in possession of a pass at Advanced Level in Art

      Or

      (b) be in possession of the Diploma in Design Foundation Studies from the University of Malta 

      Or

      (c) be in possession of the MCAST Advanced Diploma (Level 4) in Art and Design or Creative Media Production or Graphic Design and Interactive Media or Photography or Fashion and Retail, together with an Advanced Level pass at grade C or better in one of the following subjects English, Graphical Communication, History, Information Technology, Marketing, Philosophy, Sociology, or a subject (other than Art) deemed comparable by the Board, together with passes at SEC Level at Grade 5 or better in English Language, Mathematics and Maltese or

      Or

      (d) be in possession of a transcript showing passes in 120 ECTS credits in respect of the first two years of study in a three-year MCAST Bachelor’s degree course in an Art and Design related subject, together with passes at SEC Level at Grade 5 or better in English Language, Mathematics and Maltese. 

    • 3 years  

 

Some kind of experience with a client

 

Experience is priceless when meeting a client and even when going to an interview. Having experience would mean that you’re a trustworthy source, that you know how to abide to a brief within an established timeline. Now you’re wondering, from where will you get experience if you’re getting started? 

  • NGOs – Go ask them if they need any design work and do it for free. Not only you’re gaining experience, you’re even building up your portfolio & exposure. 
  • Post your online portfolio on certain Facebook groups and write that you’re willing to work for free to broaden your profile. Be honest, with and about your work. Always. 

 

Why should you work for free? – What could you do with Design in Malta?

 

You’re only getting started. You need to start from somewhere. Time will tell. It will pay dividends in the future, rest assured.  You’ll be building a huge network. A more detailed explanation can be found in the Freelancing Guide in Malta, as we explain how to get started and how to kickstart your career and your sidekick. If you believe in your craft, you’ll sky rocket in no time. Learning Graphic Design is a business within itself. 

 

Conclusion – Which path is best for you? 

 

We believe that this is not up to us to decide, as you’re living your own life and you know what fits best and what doesn’t. You know what fits and what not, what is deemed best for you in accordance to your time. We have supplied you with all the essential points to not only get you started but to hopefully help guide you in the right direction. Follow your heart and not what people imply. They might want what they want to happen. So, follow your vision not theirs. At any age, be assertive, live your dream not what other people dream. So, if you think that one path fits yourself best, stick to it. Be decisive, execute and be yourself. 

 

To conclude with, here is our take on the discussed paths: 

 

  • MCAST:  If you’re still very young, MCAST is the best place to go for a creative.  
  • University of Malta: We understand the level that you expect, but I don’t think it’s the way to go for a creative tuition. I don’t believe it equips its creative students as good as MCAST. 
  • Studying on your own path (My pick): This is what I went with. It worked for me. It requires fullon faith in yourself and your capabilities. Learn to listen and watch other people paint; admire their art and follow their footsteps. Having said that, for myself, this prepares you to start working in a whilst using what you have specialised in. For me, I specialised in Photoshop so I work in photo-manipulation within the iGaming sector. I do a lot of different stuff, from videos to posters, so I am not really limited to one thing. 
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Its your craft that you’ve invested in! It would be a wise idea to start freelancing today, we suggest to join us on tminta, as we offer a platform, who like me a tool like this would have helped me a whole lot, if it was available in the past.

 

I am an advocate for this as I am a graphic designer myself. I don’t regret my past actions, because if it wasn’t for some events, I wouldn’t have been who I am today. I believe that I always worked for what I wanted to be, so for that reason I am who am I today. Believe in your mission and vision. Input time and love to your work, and mark my words that you will succeed. 

 

KEEP IN MIND TO TICK ALL THE CHECKLIST  

 

  • Education 
  • Portfolio 
  • Experience 

 

Last top tips we suggest: 

 

  • ALWAYS consult! School, mentors, guides, anyone. If you’re joining an institution, set up a meeting and consult. It’s extremely important to do so as they’ll help you shape up your vision in a clearer manner! 

 

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