Do you want to be a seriously great graphic designer? It’s easy! There’s plenty of information available that will help you to grow your skillset and become a master of your craft. In this article we share 10 Fantastic Tips to Help You Be a Kick-Ass Graphic Designer
Except that’s part of the problem. There’s so much information on how to perfect your design skills that finding the right guidance gets overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help. We believe that it’s about starting with the basics. From here, you can put your skills and talents to good use to create unique and captivating designs every time.
Becoming a truly great graphic designer certainly depends on your creativity and diligence to a degree. But there are plenty of other tips and tricks to help you and your work stand out from the crowd. They range from applying the right colours to choosing optimal layouts and using design best practices for awesome results.
Ready to become the best in the business?
Here are our top 10 tips for becoming a kick-ass graphic designer!
Table of Contents
Understanding What a Graphic Designer Does
Before you aspire to become a kick-ass graphic designer, you need to know exactly what a graphic designer does. These designers are tasked with coming up with creative ideas and designs for visual advertising and marketing materials. These materials include digital marketing graphics, brochures, logos, posters, and flyers.
These professionals use computers and a variety of different drafting tools to create their works of art. Some graphic designers work on their own terms by freelancing, and others work in larger firms as part of teams who specialise in graphic design. They may also work in specialised fields like book design, web design, advertising, packaging, typography, and more.
The primary goal of any accomplished graphic designer is to convey a brand’s key messages to its customers in a captivating and memorable way.
Your 10 Best Tips to Perfect Your Graphic Design Skills
Get ready to take your career to the next level with our top tips for sharpening your graphic design prowess…
1. Familiarise Yourself with the Basics
You don’t need a formal degree or qualification to become a successful graphic designer. However, what you do need is a keen understanding of the core principles of this profession.
The first step you can take towards becoming a great designer is to familiarise yourself with key graphic design concepts and how to apply them appropriately to your work.
Read up on concepts like contrast, colour, hierarchy, balance and proportion in your work. When you design a logo for a client, for example, you need to understand how to apply these principles to your client’s brief and expectations. Brush up on your skills by taking a free graphic design course online and expanding your knowledge base. There are plenty of courses available, including specialised tutorials for creating logos, flyers, posters, digital marketing media and more. You can always refer back to these courses whenever you need a refresher.
2. Join the Right Communities
In this day and age, a large percentage of graphic designers work from home, either part-time or full time. If you work on your own or as a freelancer, you may not have the same exposure to other design professionals that your office-working peers do. However, that shouldn’t stop you from finding your tribe and gaining inspiration and advice from experienced designers!
Online forums are one of the best ways to help you meet other passionate designers from around the world. Sharing ideas with them will take your (and their) work to a whole new level.
Collaboration is one of the keys to becoming a great graphic designer. Forums provide a great source of inspiration and collective knowledge to draw from. Some of the best graphic design forums to consider joining include the Graphic Design Forum, Smashing Magazine Forum, and Designate Online.
3. Doing Some Throwaway Work
Are you a perfectionist who pays close attention to every tiny pixel and minor design element?
Perfectionism is never a bad thing when it comes to design. But your less polished work can be just as valuable to your career. You need to embrace imperfect work just as you do your best pieces. Since they are essential in the process of learning how to improve your graphic design skills.
Work on your abilities in between your perfect pieces by creating experimental and throwaway pieces that improve your abilities. These need not be added to your portfolio or shown to anyone else. Unless you would like to do so, of course. Their purpose is to sharpen your graphic design skills and to help you build a signature design approach that helps to set your work apart in this highly saturated industry.
4. Develop Your Own Unique Style
Creating spontaneous, throwaway design pieces is just one way that you can start to develop your own signature style as a graphic designer. Every great graphic designer or artist has their own unique and distinctive style. This signature look allows viewers to recognise their work immediately.
You can build your own style according to the design principles, colour schemes, visual elements and artistic inspirations that resonate the most with you. Many graphic designers tailor their styles according to the tastes and interests of their primary target markets and age demographics.
Some of the most popular design styles to draw inspiration from include minimalism, maximalism, photorealism, expressionism, and grunge, among many others. You can find references for your design style of choice in the thousands of design collections and forums on the web.
5. Learn New Skills and Tools
If you want to be a kick-ass graphic designer, one of the most straightforward ways to achieve this is to pick up as many new skills as possible. And to learn how to use as many new tools as you can.
Choose tools and skills that are relevant to your profession and your work. In doing this, you’ll expand your repertoire and your abilities in no time.
If you’re a beginner, you could start by dedicating yourself to learning how to use the tool or platform you have started with.
Programs like Adobe XD and Adobe Illustrator have hundreds of different tools and features to choose from. It can take plenty of time to master them all, but it’s worth it. The best time to start learning them was yesterday—and the second best time is today!
If you’re ready to master a new tool, consider trying your hand at Figma, Axure, Framer, InVision Studio, Affinity Designer, AnteType or Mockflow.
6. Immerse Yourself in Design Culture
It’s no secret that the best designers are those who always have their fingers on the pulse of the latest design trends, developments, tools, and masters. Immersing yourself in design culture is a fantastic way to stay up to date with the latest news and developments in your industry. All while drawing valuable inspiration from the work of other graphic designers you admire.
Diving into design culture means reading up on the subject as much as you possibly can. Delve into design articles, tutorials, free and paid courses, and even designer conversations on social media.
The more you can learn, the better equipped you are to create designs that captivate your audiences time after time. You will also start to learn more vernacular and important terminology as you go. This will stand you in good stead in the industry in the future.
7. Be a Conscious Copycat
Let’s be clear, we definitely don’t advocate for stealing the work or techniques of other designers. Accomplished designers always create unique and original work. Even if they do take inspiration from the work of others. However, copying others’ work in your spare time (without intending to profit from it, of course) is a great way to sharpen your design skills.
You can learn by following step-by-step tutorials. Copying designs relieves your brain from a wide variety of pressures. Including the burden of coming up with a unique design, a colour scheme, spacing and dummy data.
Copying allows you to learn how to use a tool with no distractions. Think of it as making a pre-prepared meal for dinner. You do the cooking, but the hard work has already been done for you. All you need to do is master using the oven or stove until you are confident enough to prepare your own meals (or, in this case, designs) from scratch.
8. Listen to What Your Customers Want
A big part of being a successful graphic designer is having excellent communication skills when handling clients. You need to understand exactly what each client wants to develop and create a product that they will love. In today’s digital era, it isn’t always easy to communicate clearly. Especially if you work remotely and communicate with your clients exclusively online.
Finding a way to determine exactly what your customers want is essential to helping you stand out from the competition. Use platforms like instant messaging and video conferencing to listen attentively to your clients’ needs, understand their criticisms and suggestions. Communicate design concepts to them in a way that they can easily understand.
If your clients offer constructive criticism, take it on board, learn from it, and apply what you have learned to your future projects to improve your work even further.
9. Asking for Feedback
Showing your work to the world is an unmissable step in your quest to become a great designer. You might not have shown your work to anyone except for your clients yet, and now might be the time to start doing so. Receiving honest feedback can be difficult at times. But it’s essential if you genuinely want to improve your skills and techniques.
There are many people you can ask for authentic feedback on your work.
You can ask your past clients what they think of your projects and what you can improve on. You can also ask your team members and colleagues, members of your favourite design forums, and even your family and friends. Everyone will have an opinion you can learn from.
Bear in mind that any criticisms are valuable learning opportunities and should not get taken to heart.
10. Write About Your Design Skills and Experience
If you’re an experienced designer with a penchant for writing, you could consider writing about design on a blog or an established publication in your spare time. Even the most seasoned graphic designers have picked up plenty of new skills and concepts from writing about their profession.
Breaking down design processes for other people to understand helps to deepen your own knowledge of the topic at hand.
Your writing doesn’t have to be particularly elaborate or philosophical to make an impact either. Even the simplest, most honest tutorials that break down design processes and explain how to use different types of printers and software are helpful to designers of all levels of skill. Simple, easy-to-understand articles are always in demand in the industry.
You could use your design writing to establish yourself as an expert in your field. This can attract more clients to your graphic design business as a result, which is definitely a plus.
Some designers have even set up monetised design blogs that allow them to profit from the large volumes of traffic that their informative articles attract. All while steering new clients towards their online portfolios at the same time.
Graphic design is a rich and dynamic profession to venture into. The great news is that you don’t even need any formal qualifications to do so. With that said, you will need to dedicate yourself to constant learning, training and upskilling to stay at the top of your game and become a truly great designer.
You also need to seek constant inspiration from forums, online design portals and portfolios, and the work of other designers who you admire. Furthermore, you should seek honest feedback from your clients and peers about your work. Always be ready and willing to take their criticisms on board in a constructive way.
Master a couple of popular graphic design tools, and you will be well on your way to becoming the best designer you can be!
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