If you’re new to the design industry or just looking to better yourself then here’s 5 key skills that you should develop as a graphic designer (or any designer). These skills will hold you in good stead to become a better designer but that’s not the only reward. You’ll find that the end result will likely get you a better job or get you more clients. If anything it will make you a better person all round.
Here’s 5 skills every graphic designer should try and develop.
Improve your Drawing
A lot of designers can’t draw but drawing does helps to build a visual database in your brain so the more you draw, the more visual notes it will take. It doesn’t matter whether your drawing still life or typography, portraits or scenery, the fact is that if you keep harnessing your drawing skills, your design skills and ability to design will also improve.
Mock-ups and concepts will be easier to create and final digital pieces will also become original pieces rather than imitations.
No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist.
— Salvador Dali
As a child I drew pictures not type and the truth is that all designers kind of start out as artists because of this. Until you’re a professional designer you may not even look at type so closely but typography plays a powerful role in graphic design. You don’t need fancy photos or complex compositions to make good artwork. Good typography can do it on its own.
If you can improve your typography skills in anyway at all then you’ll find your versatility as a designer will increase greatly.
Typography is probably one of the most difficult and tedious design disciplines related to graphic design and my hat goes off to all typographers because of that.
How can there be too many typefaces in the world? Are there too many songs, too many books, too many places to go?
— Rian Hughes
When it comes down to it, 99% of paid graphic design work spawns from a piece of text. It could be a design brief, content copy or maybe just a strapline. In any case text compliments or inspires graphic design in some way or another.
Seeing as text has such a great impact on our work, it helps if you personally as a designer could also mould and shape that text as well.
I find that having the skill of copywriting is a great help when it comes to web designing. Clients will give you text which could be too long, too short or just plain rubbish. As graphic designers the associated copy affects our final outcome because its apart of the final piece so being a skilled copywriter (or editor) will help tenfold to produce a final piece that works coherently from text to visuals but most importantly , to get results for the client.
To sum up……
A good designer finds an elegant way to put everything you need on a page. A great designer convinces you half that shit is unnecessary. — Mike Monteiro
Once upon a time designers were admired in society, seen as innovative and high class citizens. In today’s commercial world it’s pretty much the opposite. The discipline itself is often mocked and on a whole it does have an effect on a designer’s morale.
As a result doubts arise: “Am I any good?,” “Am I charging too much?,” “Should I do a freebie in a chance to get more work?”
Whether you’re a freelancer or employee, having confidence in yourself as a designer will only help you answer those questions and become a better designer. It will raise the bar for making sales, attracting clients, increasing your fees and your own expertise.
Having confidence as a designer is a great attribute which is needed to succeed.
Preparation gives birth to self-confidence.
— Denise Harman
The most important skill that a designer needs is the ability to do good research because there is no such thing as an original idea. Everything you do, say, draw or design was in fact inspired by something else. That something else is in fact a memory of something you saw, heard, tasted, touched or found. Whether you created that memory years ago or 2 seconds ago on google, it doesn’t matter, it still had an affect on your brain and that’s what affects your design work…..research.
For me good research, is good design. It encapsulates all of the above tips and more. So to be honest the greatest skill you can develop as a designer is your ability to research or your ability to just educate yourself.
You will be a better designer for doing so.
Copying one person is stealing. Copying ten is research.
— Chet Atkins
Programming & CSS
If you’re a graphic designer then the sheer idea of “programming” may be a sheer nightmare. We are after all visual people but we are also creative and believe me when I say that coding is highly creative and enjoyable as a graphic designer.
Coding and graphic design are pretty much step brothers now and in todays world one will struggle without the other so learning any form of coding is a great bonus to add to any designers arsenal, particularly CSS which happens to be design driven.
Web design is art wrapped in technology.
— James Weaver
If you don’t believe the tips above will help you become a better designer then prove me wrong. Give it a go, start drawing, writing and researching and see whether you become a better designer for doing it.
7. Sleep and rest
I am a better designer when I sleep. All of my design work is done in an office but I’m a better designer when I spend time out of the office and come back in. Admitidly it’s hard to do (spend time out of the office) but it is true.
They say that sleep effects everyone in different ways and its claimed that Albert Einstein slept long hours to work better and be more creative.
I don’t know if it’s a “design thing”? Maybe its the way that designers use our brains but I’m personally more calm, more creative, more productive and more focused when I’ve had a good sleep which makes me a better designer.