I’ll admit it, my education in design was a little rough having self taught most things. In doing so the importance of type in design was something I overlooked for quite a while but today I can say that type is probably one of the most important visual aspects in design.
We take it for granted.
Likewise I could say the same thing for icon design. In the graphic design world, an icon may be the most powerful and popular design that we create. Think about it, we use and see icons day in and day out, on the road, in our house, on the tv and on our computers.
They are the definition of graphic design having the ability to use a single shape to psychologically define an action, image or function for a viewer. We use more icons today then ever before and they’ve become a definitive part of our universal language.
In addition colour is obviously one of the things you’ll be using most and it helps a great deal to learn everything you can about colour. I’m not talking about what colours go together but the technology and science behind colour.
Understanding how our eyes work and the reliance of colour in our world actually defines our way of life and in retrospect gives more substance to our chosen path as a designer. We may not be saving lives with our careers but we do deal with an important element in life being colour.
The above are just three things you should start learning about as a designer if you don’t already know them because the knowledge required to be a designer is just not that simple.
To get you upto speed as a professional designer make sure you learn, understand and use the following points:
1. Learn the tools
Most designers will state that the ability to work as a professional doesn’t come from the computer or programs that you use. A PC, Mac or Photoshop are simply a means to an end and I can totally agree but as a budding designer looking for a job, your competency with software will be a selling factor.
You need to know how to use the tools that are practiced in your industry and if possible you need to know how to use them professionally. There’s more than one way to do any given task in Photoshop but as you learn the tools and trade you’ll find that they may be a best practice way of doing something particular so it not just a case of knowing a program, its ideal if you know how to use the program as a professional.
2.Learn the design principles.
Design principles are like the bible of graphic design and any work that you produce should reflect design principles to show your expertise as a designer.
3. Learn about the Fibonacci sequence
The Fibonacci sequence is more then a design rule, it’s a rule of life defining a theory and relevance to nature, science and us as human beings. It’s been used historically by designers to create everything from buildings and buttons to documents and drink bottles.
If there was ever a golden rule to good design then The Fibonacci sequence is it. Not knowing this rule would be like a brick layer not knowing bricks.
4. Learn to use grids
After learning about the Fibonacci sequence, you’ll learn about grids and the importance they play in design. Grids provide logic to an otherwise illogical discipline where gut instinct and personal preference may rule the roost. Grids bring design back down to earth for a professional and universal finish.
5. Learn about Type
Typography might be the most tedious and long-winded design discipline there is but its greatness lies in its simpicity. To design a great document you don’t need bells, whistles and fancy effects. You could do this solely with good type. Learn about it and if you can, try designing your own.
6. Learn Icon design
Icons have their own little design trends with the likes of skeomorphic and flat designs but the great thing about icon design is that if you want to, you can keep adding detail to create a masterpiece which is only 128 x 128 px big. Their importance in communication is great so learn to create icons as it will only help you to become a better designer.
7. Rule of thumb Try not to use more then 3 types of fonts on any given document
8. Use half a page or less of copy for every page design
9. Use illustrator to design logos not photoshop
10. Create colour themes for your designs (try adobe kuler)
11. Learn about resolution ( 72dpi is for web, print needs a minimum of 300dpi)
12. Use CMYK for print design and RGB for digital design
13. A bleed area is where the ink runs off of the page for print design
14. Buy and use a graphics tablet (Wacom)
15. Learn to code (a little)
16. Keep learning
17. Read design blog magazines
The above are rules of thumb to create professional designed documents but one thing to remember is that they are guidelines. As a budding designer its wise to learn, understand and incorporate these guidelines into your design work to produce applicable work.
On another note, you are a budding designer so once you’ve incorporated the above guidelines also look at how you might break these rules to produce something that’s different but still works. They are after all just guidelines so use them but then use your instinct to stay creative.
Good luck with the job hunt and I’d love to hear any feedback that you have on our 11 point program on getting hired as a professional designer. Did it help you to get a job?
Please feel free to comment.