Practicing is the key to becoming better at anything. Musicians, painters, speakers, athletes all have many hours of practice under their belts to become the best at what they do. A graphic designer is no different. Taking courses or workshops offers the basics for learning the craft. The challenging part is becoming the one person, of all the competition out there, to get the job and impress the people you are working for. How does this happen? Practice and more practice.
Experimenting with things that might be intimidating or delving into an area that isn’t comfortable can prove to be the only way to bring out the creative part of all the learning you have done. Just remember, there is a button called “undo” that isn’t available to many experts in their fields and you can use it without losing what you've put on paper already.
Always Keep in Touch with the Basics: Design, Photography & Art
Basic to the graphic designer, the practicing of many forms of design tops the list. Many simple things can create a look that is unique and recognizable everywhere. From the multinational company to wedding personal letterhead design, the desire to relate to the artwork and lettering on a product is foremost the highest goal of any designer. Some things to keep in mind to help with design practice are:
Studying typography, shape and color, composition
Trying different software
Keeping childlike enthusiasm
Collaborating with other artists
Using different media
It might be obvious, but the continuing practice of looking at, reading about and indulging in art and photography keeps those creative juices flowing. It’s vital to keep up-to-date with the latest looks. Studying those designers that are popular today and those who pioneered the world of graphics can sometimes open up new pathways for your own concepts.
Depending on the customers’ choices, whether they are yours or not, can put you on the road to working for one company or many. Take pictures, draw images from them, investigate the use of different colors, shapes, and light. Don’t put any boundaries on imagination. A customer can see something in your work that is so different from their own idea, making you a valuable part of their marketing.
Practice Your Pitch
Practice putting together a proposal for a company that you admire or maybe even work for. Looking for jobs is tedious and time-consuming. Instead, use your creative side to build a logo, identity concept and an illustration for a fictitious company and then take it to a small business. Practice the skill of salesmanship by presenting a confident, organized and beautifully designed idea. Many places don’t even know they need your design until you show them. Even if you get a “no”, your experience will teach you so much more than sending out resumes.
Constantly Challenge Your Skills
Branding assignment - take 30 minutes to design a logo for yourself. It might be much easier to develop something wonderful for a client but promoting yourself, defining your brand in a mark in a short amount of time can really challenge that inner artist and gain confidence in your skill. It can be considered a self-help exercise paring away the excess to that simple essence. Use another 30 minutes to explore stationery, a business website and a brochure using the logo. Keep it simple.
White spaces - in 60 minutes, find a way to incorporate 90 percent white into the folder. Bringing balance to a design and clearing away all the excess is one of the biggest challenges to a graphic designer. What is it that is absolutely necessary? The overloaded layout is easier to do but where is the focus on an almost all white design?
Photography to print - a 90-minute exercise involving the use of an item, carried every day, that has been photographed. Turn this into three print ads using a positive, a negative and a metaphorical way of design. Pre-plan in sketch form. Using a marriage of photo and words to put a spin on what the photo says by just looking at it, turn it into a more gut-hitting ad. Extra time of 30 minutes to make these ads into a storyboard or choose an ad you have seen on TV.
Interactive Media- another 90-minute challenge to create a web application for people to control the espresso maker in the home through the Internet. Work out how that power can be provided every day either for just one single person or for a community of coffee lovers. Designing how an application can be used is fundamental to the greater use of such an item. Globally, on the website, in the stores...it’s open to creativity.
Product design - Using 120 minutes, invent a new way to use a common item like a cup, bowl or glass for a unique and specific purpose. Not necessarily usable for all occasions but a way, maybe, in which you have imagined it to be used. Also, think of sustainability in your design so it can be put back into the earth when used up. Humble designs can be designed into the extraordinary. Give it a try.
Learn something new every day. Even the most accomplished person - in any creative endeavor - takes the time daily to practice their craft. With all the new technologies, ability to connect to one another, availability of courses, advice, and self-learning online, the possibilities are endless. The competition is great but with practice every day and confidence in what you have to offer, there is no reason for failure. And guess what? Failure is part of the learning process, teaching what to do and not do the next time an opportunity avails itself. Open up to new ideas, people and experiences to enrich the world you have built.