Jumping from product to packaging

In my current job about 10% of my job is packaging design vs. 80% product & 10% design potpourri.
I really like packaging design, I find it fun, challenging, and a great mix of 3D development with graphics. I would like to move onto a packaging design position at some point so I want to know if there is anything special I can do to help bridge the gap between product and packaging? What the most commonly used software in the packaging world?


Being a package designer is not much different than a product designer. The process is the same, the skills are pretty much the same, and the software we use is not much different that what you use (AI, PS, SW, Rhino, etc…). The only difference in packaging v/s product is that you have to be able to live in two different worlds. By this I mean that you need to have a strong understanding of structure, but you also have to have a strong understanding of graphics. This is the biggest issue I find when Graphic Designers try to be structural designers as well as when structural try to be graphic designers. We think differently and it takes a lot of training to think on both sides of the fence.

I personally work mostly in structure, but manage the graphic side of things. I pass off a concept to the graphic guys that I feel works with the package or tells the story that I want to tell. I then work with them as an art director to guide them in the right direction.

Another thing I would suggest is start to understand branding. How do brands effect how people shop? If a brand is changed, what does that do to the product? How do brands evolve? How do they effect people’s emotions? These are just a few questions you can start asking yourself while walking do the aisle in a store. A great packaging design does not just create a nice structure and nice graphics, but understands the consumer needs and how is product and package fits into those needs. A lot of this is carried by the brand.

I also would encourage you to do your homework on the packaging firm you want to join before you jump ship where you are. Firms like Product Ventures, 4Sight, Dragon Rouge, and many others hire ID guys and do real ID work in packaging. There are many others that look at packaging as a Graphic Designers job and do not run through the traditional
ID process.

Thanks. I’m not ready to jump ship but I want to plan my future (as much as possible). Right now I do a lot of the structure and then work with our art team for graphics but I figured going into a full time packaging position would require a hybrid of ID and Graphic design, which is why I think it’s so appealing to me.