It should always be a goal to improve your graphic design talents. It’s always possible to improve in any career, but technology, tactics, and approaches are always evolving, so staying on top of developments is critical to prevent falling behind.
It’s easy to become stuck as a graphic designer, especially if you’ve established a reputation for a specific style or area in which you specialize. You create a distinct style rapidly, and your portfolio begins to resemble one another. There’s something to be said for that if it’s a style that consumers like, but fads come and go, and the risk is that demand for that style may dwindle at some point, leaving you with a portfolio that doesn’t display a diverse enough range of work to attract new clients.
So, how can you get out of your graphic design rut and enhance your skills? Here are some practical, doable techniques to keep your graphic design abilities up to date. Looking for additional tips on how to advance your design career? Check out our guide to starting a design firm, our suggestions for writing the ideal creative résumé, and our compilation of the finest business card templates:
1. Begin a side project:
If you spend your nine-to-five work developing the same kind of things over and over, your graphic design talents will rapidly get stale, not to mention the effect on your personal excitement and passion for the subject. One way to keep your drive to learn new things alive is to start your own side project.
It’s often simpler to pick up a new design talent if you need it to do something specific, especially if it’s something personal to you. As a result, a personal project might lead to you learning new talents you’d never considered before, without the type of self-discipline required for formal education.
2. Study design theory:
If you’ve read thus far, you already know that graphic design talents entail much more than just putting things together and seeing what looks good. Even so, it’s always good to go back to the basics — and there’s virtually always more to learn. Graphic design is a profession, and while there is a lot you can learn by doing and many ways to get into the field without a degree, the first step to developing your graphic design abilities is to have a solid grasp of the principles.
Grid theory, color theory, typography, and the golden ratio are examples of these basics. For many designers, a formal design education proves to be quite valuable in this situation. There are several options, ranging from full university degrees to intense short courses to distance learning settings, and there are even some excellent free graphic design schools if money is tight. If you can’t commit to formal study, this list of the finest graphic design books might help you learn more about the subject.
3. Talk to other designers:
One of the best ways to develop as a designer is to interact with a variety of other designers. This, though, can be difficult at times. You may be the sole designer in a major organization, a home-based freelancer, or part of a two- or three-person firm.
Attend gatherings, lectures, and activities. Make touch with people via social media. Look into message boards. Make some new friends. Let’s speak about design for a moment. All difficulties, problems, and questions should be discussed. Collaborate on a project. Send a thank-you email to a designer whose work you admire. Make a request for them to be your mentor. Participate in their podcast or start your own to do interviews with your heroes.
Simply put, make an effort to go out there. You’ll meet some fascinating people and learn more than you ever dreamed possible.
4. Get the most from feedback:
A graphic designer needs feedback, yet dealing with criticism is one of the most emotionally demanding aspects of the work. It’s all too easy to dismiss client input and believes they don’t understand what they’re talking about (which might certainly be the case, but keep in mind that they’re the customer). How you handle feedback is a skill that is just as crucial – if not more important – than your design abilities. It can affect how long projects take and whether or not a consumer returns to you.
Listening to feedback, particularly critical or constructive criticism, can help you develop your graphic design talents. It can boost your capacity to perceive things from new perspectives and interpretations, as well as make you more attentive to little nuances that you may have noticed previously. This doesn’t only relate to client feedback. Feedback from coworkers or even the general public via social media or platforms like Dribbble and Behance might help you open up to new ideas.
5. Try changing your software:
When many designers change their programs, it becomes a watershed event in their progress as graphic designers. The design application you choose may have a significant impact on your productivity and the options available to you. Every piece of software, no matter how simple, has a learning curve, but even if you’re currently using industry-standard software, you can discover that another application sparks fresh ideas. For ideas, check out our lists of the best graphic design software and the best digital art software. You should also ensure that you have one of the most capable laptops or the finest laptops for graphic design.
In the world of digital startups, there’s a motto that goes something like this: fail quickly. In other words, the only way to figure out what works best and what you’re strong at is to test out a lot of different experimental design concepts and put them into reality. It’s a strategy that graphic designers may use to avoid becoming caught in a rut by experimenting with different media, skills, and approaches (see our collection of experimental design projects).
Mix things up a little and try something new instead of utilizing the same free vector icons, fonts, colors, layouts, or software for every design you work on. Include a wild new font. Instead of 2D, try 3D. Instead of using a pencil, sketch using a ballpoint pen or charcoal. See what happens if you break a rule. Consider how this design might have been addressed in the past. Instead of pictures, use illustrations. Increase the quantity of whitespace by twofold. In other words, toss tradition out the window and see what happens.
7. Read a book:
Brushing up on your theory was the first suggestion on our list of ways to enhance your design talents. This usually entails formal study, but you may also expand your knowledge through reading. There are a plethora of publications on graphic design theory, graphic design skills, and how to thrive in the profession, and they may give inspirational insights not just into theoretical issues but also from the real-world experience of great designers.
Put your phone on quiet and sit down with a nice graphic design book the next time you have a long train journey. It will undoubtedly be a more productive use of your time than growling at trolls on Twitter or scrolling through Instagram’s food photos. There are hundreds of educational and inspirational books to choose from, but our comprehensive selection of the greatest graphic design books is a great place to start.
As a designer, you should not limit yourself to the limits of traditional methodologies; instead, you should break new ground. The methods listed above are excellent strategies to do this and prepare the path for a bright future.
Re-energizing your graphic design abilities, researching what’s new or trendy in the industry, learning new methods, practicing your designs, and communicating with the experts are all excellent ways to strengthen your knowledge and prepare for the jobs ahead.
Overall, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran, it’s always a good idea to continue pushing your limitations in order to dynamically learn something new.