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Passion Projects for Aspiring Graphic Designers

3 minute read

For the high school student with a personal interest in creative and technical fields, graphic design is an incredibly valuable skill set with a range of practical applications. In translating messages to the visual medium, designers can inform and engage with audiences in ways that are unique to the genre. Moreover, adding graphic designs to an existing research paper, website, or other Polygence project can clarify, underscore, or add nuance to your work. 

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Brainstorming design project ideas for high school students can help aspiring designers jumpstart their careers. For the high schooler interested in graphic design, here are some project ideas and resources that may help your college admission and career journey.

#1 Start with Canva

If you use any form of social media, chances are that you have encountered a post made on Canva – a free web and phone application that allows anyone to quickly and seamlessly produce graphics for a range of purposes, from a pamphlet to an Instagram post. Canva’s beginner’s guide makes it easy for aspiring graphic designers to begin creating their passion project idea.

#2 Integrate StoryMaps

Storymaps is an accessible multimedia platform that can make any high schooler feel like a computer science pro. It incorporates traditional mapping technology, with textual narrative, oral and video formats, and – you guessed it – graphics. While the core of StoryMaps capabilities are its interactive mapping features, the templates allow users to incorporate visuals in interactive and responsive ways. A potential passion project for Polygencers would be to create a research project and accompanying infographics, and integrate both mediums on the StoryMaps platform. Here is a set of project ideas that you can begin to explore now. 

#3 Design a font

Most of us often forget that each of the typefaces that we use in our everyday writing were created by other people – graphic designers. While creating a font is typically a laborious and meticulous new skill for an extracurricular activity, it offers designers a unique challenge to produce an entirely new mode of written expression from scratch. You’ll need Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, and a font-creation program like Fontself Maker, which connects seamlessly with Adobe Suite products. Here is a helpful guide to get started.


#4 Design for an existing organization

While it’s often difficult for many of us to create a passion project idea for a design purely “from scratch,” it tends to be easier to join a team working towards a collective vision. Searching social impact job boards like Idealist can be a great way to connect, locally or virtually, with organizations in need of a graphic designer. Look for a summer program where you can make a positive impact with your independent project and learn valuable skills in the process. If you find a group with shared values and interests, you’ll have a (potentially paid) opportunity to learn more about design and work towards a shared goal. 

#5 Collaborate with a mentor

If you don’t already have an idea of something to design, or how to incorporate design into an existing project or idea, it can be helpful to discuss your interests with a mentor. If you’ve submitted to art and design competitions before, consider reaching out to organizations or professionals who have judged your work. Polygence mentors have a vast range of experience, and working directly with a mentor with a background in graphic design or similar fields is an excellent opportunity to clarify and execute your vision. Check out this article on what sets Polygence apart from other research programs here.

These are, of course, just a handful of places to start if you are thinking about starting a research project in graphic design. This skillset is increasingly valuable in a social media-driven culture, and, in addition to providing a sense of creative expression and personal fulfillment, can lead to tangible business opportunities and collaborations down the road. Even if you don’t have a background in the arts, graphic design is an incredibly accessible medium that anyone can learn and grow at. 

Interested in more art forms beyond graphic design, like studio art? Look into the best art and design colleges and art competitions for high school students to ensure you’re on a path to artistic greatness. Or, if you’re more into apparel design, check out our fashion project ideas. Good luck with designing your future, and remember, Polygence is here to help!

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