Package Design Degree Outlook

The next time you walk into a retail store, look around at all the packages you see. Which packages call out to you? Why? Is it the color? Or, is it the typography or the shape of the package? Package designers must take all these attributes into consideration and more when they design packaging for commercial products.

In another situation, a graphic design student may experience a class on three-dimensional forms in college. If that student becomes enamored with this class, he or she may decide to specialize in package design. Package designers create the package that protects products in transit or in storage. But, they also produce the packages for products that sit on the shelves at your local retail stores. These designers work with retail as well as wholesale packaging, and they also may develop prototypes for shows and exhibitions. A package design career might be the perfect fit for you if all of these things excite you. 

Package designers must learn about the materials that are commonly used for packaging so that they don't reinvent the wheel. With that said, many package designers today are setting the pace in green' design as they create packages that are made from biodegradable, recyclable, or reusable materials. These designers also need knowledge about consumer psychology, logistics, and marketing to understand why certain package designs won't work, why certain colors do work, and why some typography is impossible to use while other typefaces have become standards in this field.

Package designers also learn about government regulations, as many products must carry labels that warn handlers or the general public about the product inside the package. These warning labels must stand out, but they also must become part of the overall design. So, this field has its creative limitations, but overcoming the challenges can be rewarding.

A two- to four year graphic design degree with a focus on package design will serve well for the student who wants to enter this field. A focus on typography, color theory, three-dimensional forms, layout and design, photography, illustration, and marketing and business courses should mesh to form a well-rounded base for studies.

An internship at an advertising studio might help to validate a student's decision to become a package designer. Also, attend many trade shows to learn more about how package design is used at the wholesale level as opposed to retail. For the latter, you can use your local grocery store as a classroom as you study various packages!

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Fashion Retailing (D)
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
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BSBA - Retail Management
  • Established in 1888 with the mission to prepare global citizens with broad knowledge, marketable professional skills, and the ability to make decisions with integrity and international perspective.
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