One of the consistent conversations I have in DM’s is answering the question “I’m in high school, how do i get paid for my work?”

It’s a great question and a great aspiration.
I never want to dishearten people, but without tertiary education, most employers aren’t looking to hire someone without the knowledge that graphic designer can achieve the industry standard. That being said, you can still get paid doing what you do, yet I feel you are less qualified and hence, less hire-able.

If your in high school there are a few key things i would be doing to set my self up to dominate the industry at age 21.

1. Time and tutorials:
If I was in high school i would be spending time watching tutorials and learning everything i could about photoshop.  I would watch 3 a week and spend time learning and equipping myself with new skill sets. Just like athletes train multiple times a week, I would take the same approach.

2. Grow your toolbox:
I find a lot of artists will find their style and not grow from it for a number of reasons. This may have worked in the 1800’s and the painters of their time, but as a sports designer I need to be flexible and understand my role is to communicate in a creative way (and in that order). Ive found the majority of clients weight the communication above the creativity. As a high schooler, i would take that into consideration as i grow my skill set. It is an essential lens to look through.

Sports design styles change over time. But below are 5 styles i would want to master to help speed up my process.


Game Day / Team Templates:

Surrealism (Introducing landscapes / fantasy vibes):




3. Learn After effects.
If you can get your hands on after effects, I would start to learn how to use it. If you think photoshop is a big program, AE is a beast. Motion, Animation and Video are growing neccessities in content creation for videos. Again, like graphic design, motion design takes time to learn and there are plenty of tutorals on youtube.

Below is a list of examples of motion and graphics combined.

4. Get a mentor.
Find someone who you can allow to speak directly and specifically without getting your feelings hurt. This would be one of the best ways to fast track your growth as honest, constructive feedback can’t be beat. You need to find someone you can trust as receiving feedback can sometimes be a sensitive thing.

5. Internship.
But shouldn’t I be getting paid? Yes, but it is a process of proving you should get paid. My first internship was with the Brisbane Bandits and I calculated that I received around $2500 for $30,000 worth of work and brought in around $80,000 of direct value for the business. Im now in my 4 season with the Bandits and have also worked for some of the biggest sports organizations in Australia and that is because i took the time to learn what it means to be in a professional work environment. You won’t intern forever and interning could be your foot in the door.

I don’t believe you should ever work for free. But value isn’t always in dollars and cents. Experiences, contacts and proving your creative ability are also essential for getting paid for a long time.