6 Tips To Improve Your Design Skills
Graphic design is a constant learning process and, at times, can be a bit overwhelming for any designer, even those with lots of experience. If you’re looking to improve your design skills or just getting started in graphic design, these 6 tips are just for you!
1. Sketch, Sketch and Sketch Some More
Your sketchbook should be your best friend and first step in the design process. It’s important to develop your concept ideas before moving to the computer so you don’t waste time creating “cool” design that doesn’t clearly communicate what you need it to say. What do you want to say with your design? Who’s attention do you need to capture? These are just the first of many questions that can be answered during the sketch process. Also, try to embrace all your ideas…even the bad ones! You never know when a bad idea can lead you to something great.
2. Learn Adobe Shortcuts
Shortcuts are great tools to help you become a faster and more efficient designer. Think about typing an 8-page paper: even without knowing how to type, you could manage typing the assignment; but the time difference between someone who can type without looking and someone who has to find each letter, is obvious. Shortcuts help you design swiftly, which in turn can help you quickly finish projects. And as a designer, I’m sure you know, time is definitely of the essence.
3. Get Inspired
Looking at other designers’ work can help you get a sense of what you like and don’t like. Find an artist you really admire and look at their work to pinpoint what attracts you to their style. Follow a type blog or read up on your favorite designer; figure out what their process is like and how they approach design. Use other designers and their work as inspiration to push and develop your own style.
4. Trust the Process
No one just wakes up one day and becomes a graphic designer…at least not a good one anyway. You’re going to make stuff that you feel looks like crap and probably get really frustrated. Just keep in mind that your mistakes are part of the process and they serve as a stepping stone in the learning process. The only way to get better is to keep going, until one day you can look back at those mistakes and laugh with delight at how far you’ve come.
5. Broaden Your Horizons
One of the things I wish I’d learned while in school is how broad the graphic design field can be! We were taught all about graphic design agencies but it wasn’t until I graduated that I realized there are so many other design jobs. Agencies are great, but there are other places where designers can work. Designers can be skilled in a variety of specialties: from blog design and menu lettering to greeting card and billboard design. Design is everywhere, and with that, so is opportunity! Don’t limit yourself to thinking you can only be a graphic designer if you work at an agency. Figure out which area of design you want to focus on, and then strengthen those skills with lots of practice.
6. Balance is Key
If you’re working towards becoming a better graphic designer, you’ve probably been designing lots of projects. And that’s great! Having a wide range of projects can reflect how much you’re improving. On the other hand, when it comes to your portfolio, you want to showcase your best work in your area of design. For example, a print designer probably doesn’t have a portfolio full of web design projects. However, a designer can still achieve a successful portfolio with a variety of projects, but balance is important. Aim for projects that show off your design experience and versatility but still compliment your area of design.