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No, but it does help.
No, but it is a good idea to have a mentor to guide you for the best steps to take and the skills you should acquire.
Need? Not particularly. Helpful? Almost invaluably so.
The value you get from it is the knowledge of what has come before - and why. Why do we design things certain ways and not others?
To be a good designer, degree or not, you need to learn:
-What has been tried and worked in the past, and why
-What has been tried but did not work in the past, and why
-What has not been tried in the past, (and perhaps why, if there is a reason)
Designing is a form of problem solving. In order to solve problems, we need to know what tools and ideas we can use to solve them. This is why we study what others do and have done in the area we are designing.
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Is this in reference to job hunting? When applying for jobs, recruiters and hiring managers like that educational degree. If you do art and design on the side as a personal pursuit, then a degree would not be needed, but it does help polish those fundamentals when going through a strong program. Honestly, it's a totally a judgment call on the artist's end