Skip to main content

Your creative future starts here:


Can graphic design skills support your job?

  • Written byYusuf Tamanna
  • Published date 05 March 2021

Short courses at UAL are designed to provide students with exactly what they need. What that is exactly can vary depending on each student’s personal circumstance or situation when starting a course. It may be that they need help planning their next big career change or realising they could benefit from a skills refresher so they can be more effective at work. It can also be that you’ve found yourself with some time on your hands and want to dip your toes into art again or simply curious about a topic and want to know more.

For User Experience Designer Tina Li, her decision to study the Graphic Design for Beginners Online Short Course at Central Saint Martins was a mix of wanting to finesse her skills at work, but also craving a creative outlet. Growing up, Tina didn’t have access to art classes. Instead she taught herself how to draw and has worked to keep that artistic fire burning.

“Sixteen years later, I’m a User Experience Designer by day, and an avid illustrator at night! I chose the course because I wanted to strengthen my graphic design skills and knowledge. Moreover, I graduated from design school not too long ago, and I was yearning to be in a creative community again. Taking the course definitely got my creative juices flowing again!”

A portrait photo of Tina Li smiling to the camera

Similarly, Hollie Turner works for a small charity where she’s responsible for communicating with the wider public, designing infographics for social media, drafting newsletters and promotional materials. Hollie said she wanted to do the Graphic Design for Beginners Online Short Course because it would give her the opportunity to strengthen the skills she uses daily as part of her job.

“After some research into online graphic design courses, the one provided by Central Saint Martins seemed the perfect fit because it offered an in-depth introduction to key graphic design principles, with varied projects to complete over the course of four weeks,” Hollie says.

While both Tina and Hollie’s reasons for doing the course stemmed from wanting to improve their skills for work, Emma Hill was in the process of changing careers and thought the Graphic Design for Beginners Online Short Course would help her get started.

Prior to the course, Emma graduated from university with a degree in Spanish and English Literature and continued her love for languages by completed her Level 2 certificate in Chinese. However, after all that she admits feeling uninspired creatively and felt she was floundering career-wise.

“It wasn’t until I randomly came across an art competition that challenged me to really go in depth on my design skills. That was the turning point for me, and my interest was sparked. So, I did a few other competition designs and fell in love with designing and the process as well as the accomplishment of finishing a piece of artwork. I thought to myself ‘why can't I incorporate my passion for art and language?’”

  • 35840.1.1-Scan_20200406-2_edited-4_edited-1_LI.jpg
  • 35926.2.1-Week_2_Impact_II-01_csm.png
  • 35840.2.2-logo-final-redo-3.2-trademarked-with-initals.jpg
  • 35840.3.3-Annotation-2020-06-27-151817-homework-week-2.jpg

After looking at a range of graphic design courses offered elsewhere, Emma says the UAL short course was the one that fit best because of the balance between practical and theory that would help Emma’s career change go as smooth as possible. “I didn’t feel like the course was going to throw all kinds of information at me and make everything complicated. The course was also set out in such a way that made it seem fun and not intimidating at all.”

Even though all 3 students had very different reasons for doing the short course, they all say it was exactly what they hoped for. Tina tells me that a personal highlight for her was seeing her fellow classmate’s work, especially as the course was made up of students from all over the world. Seeing how each person’s culture impacted their perception of graphic design was extremely gratifying for Tina.

Emma credits the tutor, Ruth Sykes, for creating a comfortable learning environment where she could really stretch herself creatively without fear of being told she was wrong. “Ruth was extremely helpful! Any feedback on my work came in a way that you wouldn't misunderstand and didn't make you feel embarrassed but encouraged and happy to try again. Ruth was also always open for questions, so I never felt self-conscious about asking a question.”

Speaking specifically to the experience of learning in a virtual environment, Hollie says the course really opened her eyes up to the boundless potential of studying remotely. With people staying at home more because of the pandemic, Hollie believes being able to study anywhere in the world, without it disrupting your daily life is invaluable to anyone’s personal and professional development.

A photo of Sophie Turner holding her sketch book opened out and smiling to the camera

Since completing the course, Emma’s plan to change careers has gotten off to a strong start. “A few months after the course I had the opportunity to design a logo for a company who are creating a new product. It was my first logo that has been trademarked, I've also had the opportunity to design a few pictures that were used in a presentation that revolved around A.I technology!” Emma adds that she doesn’t think she would have felt as confident or produced such a high standard of work without the help of both the short course and the tutor.

“This course has helped me to get a good jump into the world of design and I'm looking forward to continue using those skills within painting and graphic design,” Emma says.

For Tina, she was able to let her creative spirit thrive while on the short course and has picked up a good number of skills she easily transferred over to her work as a User Experience Designer. “Learning about font treatment, leading, kerning, and the four basic principles of graphic design has helped improve my design decisions as a UX Designer. I plan on learning motion design as well, and I think having the foundations of graphic design from this course will help guide me through that journey.”

Hollie, who initially attended the course to better the skills she used at work, tells me that after the course, she was inspired to take her understanding of graphic design even further. “I have a lot to thank this short course for! Following its completion, I decided I wanted to take my education to the next level with the view to begin a career directly in the design industry, and so I am currently studying online towards an MA in Graphic Design with Falmouth University alongside my current role at the charity!”

An image of Tina Li's magazine spread about Patagonia Chile

With each of them now using their new-found graphic design skills and confidence to progress at work, change careers or even consider heading back into education, they all agree that doing a short course at UAL is something they’d recommend others to do as well.

“You’re challenged to think outside the box and every week the tutor provides fun projects for students to do in their own time,” Tina says. “I woke up at 2 in the morning every weekend to attend the class because I was in a different time zone! But I looked forward to it and it was the highlight of my weekend. It was a very enriching and positive experience.”

Both Emma and Hollie think everyone should take a short course for themselves, even if just for the experience of learning a new skill. “A short course will help you with your confidence. It will give you the knowledge and skills you need to be able to pursue a career in graphic design like I have.”

Hollie adds, “The knowledge, experience and skills that you will gain will be invaluable to you and your future goals. I am so pleased that I decided to undertake this short course because it transformed my career prospects and made a huge difference to my personal development.”


Your graphic design journey doesn’t have to start and finish with our Graphic Design for Beginners Online Short Course. We have loads more short courses that focus on all facets of design including our Graphic Design Principles Online Short Course and Digital Graphic Design Online Short Course.

Maybe you need help developing a strong portfolio that really show off your abilities. Our article How to create a graphic design portfolio has words of wisdom from tutors and graphic designers on how you build a truly knock-out body of work.

If Tina, Hollie and Emma’s experience has inspired you to find out what a short course can do for you, take a look at our upcoming online short courses to get started.

Related courses