To learn graphic design is to gain insight into how human beings use visual experiences to make sense of the world. As exciting as that sounds, the question of where to find the best graphic design classes in Houston can be an obstacle to ever getting started, especially since the city is so vast and bustling.
To state the problem bluntly, the field of graphic design is almost as sprawling and diverse as Houston itself. With so many options at your fingertips, it’s hard to know how to invest your time and money wisely.
Well, Houston, we have a solution. In this quick overview, we’ll first survey the major categories that graphic design classes fall into, and then we’ll suggest where in the Houston area you can go to turn your artistic talents into a career in graphic design.
Ready to influence how others see the world? Then let’s get started.
Types of Graphic Design Classes
The easiest way to narrow your options is to clarify exactly what type of knowledge you’re hoping to get. Almost all graphic design classes focus on one of three areas: fundamentals, real-world applications, or training with specific tools.
Any graphic design course worth its salt will incorporate aspects of all three, but knowing the emphasis of a given course will tell you a lot about how you’ll be spending your time.
Fundamentals of 2D and 3D Design
An “Intro to Graphic Design” class explores the theory behind why we respond the way we do to various visual stimuli, in either two-dimensional or three-dimensional space. Students will learn how to use form, medium, shape, color, and negative space to create designs that will elicit a desired response from the viewer.
If you’ve already studied the core elements of visual art, you may be tempted to skip the basics.
That’s an understandable impulse. But if you’re serious about using graphic design to advance your career, you may want to re-familiarize yourself with foundational concepts.
Though graphic design is an old discipline, most aspiring graphic designers in our increasingly digitized world will be eager to move on to specific topics related to web design and user interfaces.
It is here that the line separating graphic design from other functions of web development starts to blur, but we should try to keep these terms straight. Web design involves enhancing both user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). In a web development context, graphic designers focus mainly on the latter.
That is to say, graphic designers are the people who come between the underlying UX structure of a web-based product and the user’s eye, making the user experience visually appealing and more accessible.
To build these skills, you need to learn the principles of visual communication and digital communication. It is one thing to understand the design of something on its own terms, but on a deeper, more practical level, a design only exists in relation to the user.
A class on digital imaging, visual communication, or digital publishing will walk through the process of creating a dynamic interaction between viewer and design.
Training with Specific Tools
Digital applications of graphic design require software to do the job. And honestly, the quality of many of the available products is high enough to make even a novice feel like a pro.
But graphic design software can also be hard to master. If all you’re looking for is a training course for learning how to make a piece of design software work for you, those are available, too. And if you’re in too much of a hurry to study the fundamentals, many crash courses will review at least some of the basics along the way.
The Best Graphic Design Classes in Houston
If you want to fill gaps in your knowledge at the lowest possible cost, the three most important things to consider are quality of instruction, convenience, and affordability.
With those criteria in mind, below are the best options we could find for graphic design courses in Houston.
Community Colleges in the Houston Area
Where: Houston, TX; Pasadena, TX; and Online
What: Individual Courses and Certificate Programs
If you’re interested in the fundamentals and real-world applications of graphic design, the Art and Design specialization at San Jacinto College, the Visual Communication curriculum at Lone Star College, and the Digital Communication program at Houston Community College are all excellent places to shop around for classes.
At each of these colleges, individual courses could also count toward professional certification in graphic design. You would simply need to declare a certificate program in order to continue taking classes in that curriculum.
University of Houston-Clear Lake
Where: Houston, TX and Online
What: Graphic Arts training programs
Cost: $1,995 – $2,595
These comprehensive career training courses are instructor-led and structured around specific graphic design software. Refresh on the basics as you learn how Photoshop or the Adobe Creative Suite can accommodate your skills and talents.
Where: Online due to COVID-19
This smart and adaptive course is always evolving to meet the latest industry standards. General Assembly provides a welcoming environment for beginners without skimping on content. Learn all about UX and UI design from experts in the field, and use the latest design software to complete a capstone project that will impress future employers.
University of Houston (Ed2Go)
Sponsored by the most acclaimed university in the Houston area, these accelerated courses will only take only 72 hours to complete. Improve your fluency in Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop with the help of an instructor, and do it for a fraction of the cost of the Clear Lake courses. If you’re strapped for time and money, check this one out.
ONLC Training Center
Where: Houston, TX
Hosted at the ONLC Training Center in the Uptown district, this bootcamp covers the same three Adobe products as the University of Houston class. You pay a premium for classroom learning stretched out over five days, and don’t expect to get many of the basics here. Beginners are welcome, but previous experience with Creative Cloud is preferred.
Which Graphic Design Classes in Houston Are Right for You?
On the one hand, it makes sense for artistic people to lean on their natural abilities to make a difference in the world. On the other hand, the more formal education you can get, the better you can to signal to employers that you can keep up with an ever-changing workforce.
And since the median salary for a graphic designer is over $50,000, it may just be worth it to enroll in that extra class. If you’re not quite ready to shell out for one of the courses on this list, consider exploring TECHLink at the Houston Public Library, where a library card and a brief assessment will get you free access to select graphic design software.
The great news is that Houston has tons of resources to help you design the next phase of your career.