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Learn the foundations of graphic design with a beginner short course

A mock up design by Miran Jurisevic showing what the business cards for 'Bold' would look like. The dominant colours are black, white, beige and turquoise
  • Written byYusuf Tamanna
  • Published date 21 March 2021
A mock up design by Miran Jurisevic showing what the business cards for 'Bold' would look like. The dominant colours are black, white, beige and turquoise

Like most people who found themselves with an abundance of free time due to the pandemic and subsequent ‘stay at home’ mandate, Katie Herbst - an abstract artist based in Dublin – wanted to make sure she used the time effectively.

A Fine Art graduate, Katie currently works for the website building platform Wix and dabbles in working as a freelance artist when she has the time. Speaking specifically about her practice, Katie says she works primarily with watercolour and ink, but over the last year she explains she’s begun delving into more experimental approaches. Many of which consist of painting manipulation through Adobe Photoshop and other collage techniques.

This shift in her creative practice is what spurred her on to do the Graphic Design for Beginners Online Short Course offered by Central Saint Martins.

A photo of Katie Herbst smiling directly at the camera

“I wanted to upskill during lockdown and gain a further insight to the world of Graphic Design!”, Katie tells me. “Having a background in Fine Art, I wanted to learn the basics of graphic design to see if it was something I wanted to pursue in the future,” Katie explains.

“Of course, I have heard so much about University of the Arts London and the high quality of their courses, so I decided this was the best place to do a short course to get a high standard education, in a small amount of time.”

Work by Katie Herbst showing different colours clashing together

A solid foundation in graphic design is also what Abbie David was looking for when she booked on to the Graphic Design for Beginners Online Short Course. A recent graduate in Art and English Literature, Abbie says doing the short course was a way of making up for the lack of knowledge she had in a field that she wants to pursue as a career.

“I felt that I needed to expand on my graphic design skills as my university course did not focus on this aspect of art,” Abbie explains. Immediately after graduating from university, Abbie says she worked in recruitment but soon found that was not the right path for her. As such, doing the short course was Abbie’s way of course correcting her career trajectory.

A photo of Abbie David looking directly at the camera

“The course seemed like a great foundation course to introduce me into graphic design. I knew I needed to up my skill base and this course ticked all the boxes for that. Plus, it was online so I could complete it during lockdown!”

Meanwhile, Miran Jurisevic, a Brand Identity Designer at  a consultancy firm based in London, came to the Graphic Design for Beginners Online Short Course already well versed in various facets of design. His day-to-day work includes making sure all visual aspects of the business stay true to brand values and overall vision. So, he's aware of how important getting a message across via visual cues can be.

With a BA in Design Management from the Faculty of Design in Ljubljana, Miran also knows plenty about the design processes and unique approaches to design thinking. But he still believed it was worthwhile attending the course, if only for his personal and creative development.

A photo of Miran Jurisevic smiling at the camera

“I am aware that it is important to constantly learn and develop your creativity, so I attended a short course taught by Ruth Sykes,” Miran explains. “UAL is a reputable institution with some of the top professors in the creative field, so being able to attend a high-level course from the comfort of my own home during lockdown was an invaluable opportunity.”

When asked what they enjoyed most about the course, all three students credited the professional and efficient set up of the course itself. Katie says she appreciated being able to catch up on the classes in her own time via the recorded sessions, while Abbie says she was able to track her own progress on the course every week clearly – which  inspired her further.

Work by Katie Herbst showing dark colours clashing together in a fluid like motion

Work by Katie Herbst with mixed colours clashing together in a fluid like motion

Miran adds: “The course was very well structured and provided me with a platform to express myself freely. Communication with my tutor was effortless. I also enjoyed being surrounded by likeminded creatives, of whom I could discuss my ideas with. Being able to share creative challenges and receiving feedback from a variety of points of view made the learning process even more effective.”

With Abbie attending the short course as a way to help her pursue a career in graphic design, she said being able to speak to the tutor Ruth Sykes about this was the most gratifying aspect of her time on the course.

A piece of work by Abbie David with the word 'Inquisitive' jumbled up against a blue background

Work by Abbie David titled 'Playful' showing a little girl playing with bubbles in black and white

“Ruth Sykes has worked in the industry and also teaches. She was able to give clear advice on jobs and further courses I could take. It filled me with a lot of hope about my future in graphic design!”

Abbie’s experience was so worthwhile that since finishing the course, she’s made some big decisions in her life to support her end goal of working in graphic design. “I signed up to the short course during the first lockdown. Now with the second lockdown, I'm spending my time exploring graphic design, crocheting, drawing. I am also currently working on a portfolio to do a diploma course with UAL!”

Work by Miran Jurisevic showing a mock-up poster for 'Bold

A magazine spread mock-up by Miran Jurisevic for 'Bold

While both Abbie and Katie left the short course with new, transferrable skills they were excited to put into practice, for Miran the course was a great way to refresh and update his existing skillset.

“Even though I have experience and knowledge in graphic design, I wanted to revisit and reaffirm the foundations of the subject. The theory, basics of layouts, grids and typography are key to bringing one's ideas to life. The course gave me the confidence to approach any graphic design task from a point of knowledge.”

After having such fruitful experiences on the short course, all three students would wholeheartedly recommend others to consider doing a short course for themselves.

Work by Miran Jurisevic showing a magazine spread mock-up for 'Bold' in black and white

“Doing a short course opens up a world of opportunity!” Katie says. “These courses are great if you want to gain new skills or brush up on old ones. I found it easy to take part in the course while working full time. Having the freedom to catch up on videos in the archive online and have easy communication with the tutor, made this a smooth process to learn.”

Likewise, Miran says the short courses are perfect for people of all abilities. “I would highly recommend the short courses to anyone. Either a professional who is looking to expand and develop their range of skills or a beginner who wants to learn more about the basics.”

Work by Abbie David showing a magazine spread titled 'You Do You' detailing the importance of doing what makes you happy

Praising the personable and meaningful interactions she had with the short course tutor, Abbie is happy to recommend the short courses to any of her peers. “The confidence it built in me has been hugely useful. It was a great motivator and learning experience, and perfect to keep you creative!”


If you need advice on how to develop a knock-out portfolio of work, our How to create a graphic design portfolio article is full of tips and tricks to help you put together your best pieces of work to show off your skills for university applications or freelance commissions!

Beyond graphic design, our short courses cover a wide range of challenging and creative topics, each designed to equip you with practical and transferable skills that you can use in your career or educational journey.

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