When most people think of the tech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area, they think of research and software jobs with tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. But any company with an online presence needs the expert talents of a computer graphic artist, such as those employed at Bay Area graphics/animation firms such as Lucas Arts and Pixar.
It doesn’t matter if computer graphics are performed in-house or through an outside source, a stylish website plays a valuable role in publicizing a company’s brand. This is especially true now that many high-profile companies have reduced marketing expenditures by reducing printed promotional material in favor of online advertising.
As the tech industry continues to lead the Bay Area in job creation, there also comes a continued demand for talented graphic artists. With the demand comes increased competition from others vying for the same job, while a degree in computer graphics isn’t always necessary to obtain some of the best graphics jobs, many hiring departments require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and significant proficiency in a wide array of digital publishing software.
Chris Carothers, founder and creative director of Informationgraphics.biz, has spent decades in the computer graphics industry. Among his many clients have been a number of Silicon Valley companies, including Intuit, Symantec and NetApp, as well as the San Francisco Examiner and the San Jose Mercury.
What is your background in computer graphics?
“I began using computers to render art when I worked for Gannett News Service as the graphics editor for The Salinas Californian. I used McDraw on the first apple Macintosh in 1984. I have used computers to render art ever since, utilizing the industry-prominent programs. I now am the creative director at www.informationgraphics.biz where I create information and business graphics for print, web and presentation.”
What type of education is necessary to enter a career in your field?
“You need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or illustration emphasizing a solid background in all of the major digital media programs – Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, etc. In addition to training in graphic design, creativity, communication and problem-solving skills are crucial. Graphic designers must be creative and able to communicate their ideas visually, verbally and in writing.”
What advice can you offer to individuals interested in a career in digital media?
“Find a good school and choose an area that really interests you. My particular interest is in information and business graphics as they are interpreted in presentations. Whether you are interested in mobile, print, web or presentation, find out who’s doing it well and study their process. Utilize the internet to support your education.”
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.