Things Young Designers Need to Know
You’ve learned the software, practiced and studied. But turning your passion into a long-term, successful career, takes more than ambition and talent.
Balancing creativity with career planning and business management is a crucial part for graphic designers – and one that can take time to master. While some things you can only learn through experience, there is no reason why you shouldn’t benefit from expert advice.
Here are 12 excellent tips to help you jumpstart your career divided into two sections
Six tips to help maximize your creativity
1. Master (and we mean master!) Photoshop
You will use a plethora of different tools in your design process, and every designer has their favorite go-to apps. But there’s one program you must know like the palm of your hand if you want to succeed – Adobe Photoshop. This digital imaging program is so powerful and versatile that you not only can perform most of your work with it but you will most likely be asked to do so. If you’re not comfortable with Photoshop, self-taught, or learned on another platform, you should make a point of getting up to speed through practice, and online courses, workshops, or video tutorials. Do everything it takes to stay up-to-date and improve your Photoshop skills continually.
2. Seek inspiration (not imitation)
While of course you can be inspired by the world around you, as a professional designer there are tried and true methods to stay inspired. There are many online resources with powerful and insightful coverage of the creative world. Adobe Create magazine, Medium platform, and 99designs blog are just a few great sources for inspiration. The Internet is full of creative resources awaiting to be discovered by avid young people like yourself.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but in graphic design that only leads to unoriginal and borderline plagiarised work. It can be difficult for young designers to be inspired by other’s work without inadvertently copycatting. Instead of copying the result, analyze the piece or style that caught your attention and identify the factors that make it so appealing to you. The key is not to do exactly what others did, but to do your own thing in a similar fashion.
3. Be aware of trends, but be you
In our tech-driven world, visual content evolves at increasing speed, making the designer’s job as exciting as it is demanding. To prevail in this business, you need to stay current. Using your library of inspiration sources to stay up to date with visual trends is a wise, creative move.
However, don’t sacrifice your design style merely to follow the latest trends. Your individuality as an artist and your integrity as a designer is what will make you unique in a pool of young designers. The secret is in adapting (not only adopting) trends that complement your personal style – and your client’s needs – in an individual, signature way.
4. Keep it simple
When you’re fresh out of design school or in your first days of freelancing, it is normal to be excited to show off your skills and want to create mind-blowing visuals. And you can totally do that without throwing every technique you’ve learned and every idea you’ve come up with into one single design.
Trust your instinct and the word of experienced designers that say the strongest designs are those with a clear and coherent concept, defined subject, and only one or few techniques efficiently executed. In other words: do, don’t overdo. Keep it simple.
5. Always aspire to achieve visual harmony
To accomplish the great designs you need (and want), you must keep visual harmony as your north. Your project not only needs to be concise and neatly designed, but you should also want it to provoke a pleasant experience for the viewers.
How do you achieve that? It’s a lot simpler than you’d think – with “simple” being the keyword. For example, work with your color palette choosing complimentary or low contrast tones, pick for no more than two typefaces, and make sure the font styles complement each other fluidly.
The most important thing is to utilize content hierarchy: don’t overshadow crucial copy with noisy backgrounds or crazy fonts, don’t wash out your main subject with multiple accessory graphics, etc. Identifying the relevance of each element in your design and working with them according to that importance helps you ensure you’re respecting the hierarchy.
6. Say yes to stock media resources
Stock media is a real lifesaver for creative work: the sooner you embrace it, the better. Royalty-free stock media including photos, vector illustrations, templates, and more can be the perfect addition to your graphic designs.
Stock graphics are an excellent resource for inspiration and creativity. For example, did you know some of the most viral memes are actually repurposed stock photos?
There are more concrete benefits too: stock media files are available immediately, speeding your turnaround times. You can customize them as much as you wish, to give them your original touch. Plus they are high resolution, suitable for any professional use, and the Royalty Free license grants you, you’re respecting usage rights. Add the fact their cost fits most budgets, and it’s a great deal!
You’re ready to start your design career and to turn your passion into your livelihood.