The Guide to Vector Design
Develop your edge as an artist and designer with CorelDRAW’s Guide to Vector Design. Learn the basics of vector graphics and design, and feel empowered to tackle any challenge that comes your way.
We see vector art everywhere — on billboards, posters, packages, and more. Professionals create these vector designs — graphic designers and vector artists.
Effectively communicating a message or idea through the visual medium of vector art is a unique skill used across a wide range of jobs. Learn how to become a graphic designer, what types of jobs are available, and how much you can expect to earn as a vector artist.
There are several paths leading to becoming a graphic designer. Whether you’re a student interested in building a career in vector illustration, a professional curious about pivoting into the design field, or an aspiring digital art hobbyist, consider the following steps along your journey.
There are many ways to learn graphic design and improve your skills, and there are pros and cons to each path.
Traditional Education Programs
Enrolling in a graphic design certificate or degree program at a university or community college gives you access to trained instructors, course materials, and equipment. This route gives you a degree to prove your skills and networking opportunities with peers and instructors. However, design degrees can be expensive.
Learning with Online Courses and Workshops
Many designers are self-taught with the help of online courses and workshops. These resources cost much less than a formal design degree but can still provide a practical learning experience. This affordable option allows students to work at their own pace. This choice also accommodates those who may work a full-time job and need to learn graphic design in their free time.
Jumping in the Deep End
Some designers and vector artists learn by simply jumping into design software and figuring it out themselves as they go. Rather than a formal design program or online course, they prefer learning through trial and error and free tutorials. Major design software brands typically have robust catalogs of free tutorials, and YouTube is full of free design tutorials and other instructional content. Some design software can have a steep learning curve, but ambitious self-starters may enjoy the challenge.
Design software is a graphic artist’s most valuable tool. There are many different design software options for aspiring graphic artists and vector designers, but you’ll need to spend time learning its tools and features no matter which software you choose. Check out our guide to choosing the right vector design software, and seek out software-specific resources, tutorials, and guides for support.
Like any skill, becoming a graphic designer requires plenty of practice. As you learn the particulars of your chosen design software, flex your vector art skills with different types of projects and designs. Also, explore design history and art theory material to become a strong, well-rounded digital artist. Topics include:
Look at designs from other artists as well. Inspiration will help you grow and define your style as a designer.
Before you start applying for graphic design jobs, you’ll need to create a portfolio showcasing your best work. Hiring managers need to see examples to evaluate your skills and see if you’re a good fit for their team. An online portfolio is standard, and there are many free and cheap website builders for aspiring vector designers to use for their portfolios. Check out this in-depth guide and inspiration for creating a portfolio highlighting your talents.
Once you’ve studied, practiced, grown your skills, and created a stellar portfolio to show off your work, it’s time to find a job. There are many different tools and resources for finding work as a vector artist. Here are a few options:
Most job boards have a specific category for graphic design jobs, and many of them include additional resources, like this guide to finding a job as a graphic artist. For those interested in working from home, there are now job boards explicitly dedicated to fully remote companies and opportunities — We Work Remotely is one example.
Company “Careers” Pages
If you have a basic idea of where you want to work, keep an eye on those companies’ job listings. Check frequently for open roles with your favorite brands, and be ready to apply when a job becomes available. Some company job boards also have a general application available for people interested in a job but don’t see the right role listed. It’s worth applying so they have your resume on file if an opportunity pops up.
Freelance Job Boards
Becoming a graphic designer doesn’t mean you need to quit your day job right away — or ever, for that matter. You could start freelancing and earn some extra income on the side. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork are great for finding short-term, project-based work. Dribbble Jobs is a curated job board focused on full-time and fully remote jobs. And sites like Solidgigs send customized opportunities straight to your inbox for an affordable monthly fee. Freelancing gives you complete control over your schedule and rates, and it can give you a feel for life as a professional vector designer — without a full-time commitment.
The following are examples of jobs relying on the competencies in vector graphics:
Many vector artists pursue a role as graphic designers at a creative agency or within a company’s internal team. While graphic designers must have a broad artistic skill set, proficiency in vector graphics is essential. Graphic designers use their vector design skills to create crisp, scalable designs for various situations and applications.
With some added knowledge of web design and development, a budding vector designer could pursue a career in designing web pages. Web/UX design requires a solid working knowledge of graphic design and vector art. Vector graphics files, known as SVGs, are foundational for responsive web design.
Experience with graphic design and vector art is important in the print industry. Vector artists working in print shops need a strong understanding of image file formats, as they’ll be reproducing art across various formats, from small postcards and flyers to large billboards. With vector files, printers can scale graphics to enormous sizes without losing quality.
Some vector designers may decide to focus on the illustration side of graphic design, using vector illustration tools and techniques to create stunning art for publications, advertisements, books, and more. While traditional illustrators created art with paints, pencils, and other materials, modern illustrators often use digital tools — or a combination of both.
Many general marketing roles call for various advertising, social media, business, and design skills. Marketing professionals with graphic design experience tend to be in high demand in the job marketplace.
There are many career options for vector artists and graphic designers, as outlined above. Salary expectations for graphic design jobs can vary significantly based on the role, your level of experience, and the job’s location. For example, according to Glassdoor, the average UX Designer in New York City earns a salary of $103,148, with plenty of room for growth.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals several common graphic design jobs and their average mean wage in the United States in 2021. Explore more compensation data on the BLS website.
With learning, practice, hard work, and dedication, you can earn a competitive salary working with vector graphics in various jobs. Regardless of your career path, your vector design skills will enable you to create stunning, scalable art that can go anywhere.
For those in the very beginnings of their journey to becoming a graphic artist, try CorelDRAW. With a full set of vector design tools and a beginner-friendly learning curve, CorelDRAW is powerful software for new designers and seasoned professionals alike.
Next up, find out what it takes to transition from traditional illustration to vector-based illustration and design.