Design is a great way to express your creativity through many different means. At first you may think it is primarily photoshop, but given time and experience you will learn it takes a lot more to create breath-taking, visual masterpieces like some of the pro's. In this post we share 12 tips for new designers that will help you improve your design workflow, your practices, and your designs themselves.
1. Master the Tools
When starting out, you may be interested in learning a little here a little there. While it is good to know many different subjects, try to master 2-3 specific fields. For example if you go into web design, try to perfect your knowledge of html, css, js and maybe a bit of back-end development then learn about photoshop and possibly work on your e-commerce skills. Now you have a solid foundation to build on and as your progress your knowledge will as well.
2. Imitate & Execute
Follow the best designers in the industry. These are the people with experience and skills that you can aspire to reach. Also bookmark some design blogs, inspiration sites, and sources for news about the design industry. Be sure to refer to these weekly and even daily to learn about the best ways to achieve certain designs, and what is popular in the design industry. Jump into Photoshop and make some designs exactly like the ones you see on the web. Think of how this specific designer made this, why they made the choices they did, and why it appeals to others. This will help you start making designs of you own with better layouts and a more professional appearance.
3. Imitate Does Not Mean Copy
You may be tempted to copy designers or to recreate some of your favorite sites. This is ok, as long as you keep them to yourself. Don't knowingly copy work and publish it as your own. This can ruin your reputation as a designer, and other designers won't want to work with you. Try to stay original and create designs that are your own. Defining your style will help you get recognition and followers in the design industry.
4. Critique Others
Just because you are a beginner at design doesn't mean you shouldn't exercise your talent. Critique other designers, share your knowledge. Try and be helpful and tell them what could use some improvement and what looks awesome. Don't be rude, though. I'm not saying you have to be nice, some critique's are harsh, that's the real world, but don't blindly insult another designer's work.
5. Join Design Communities
You're at the point where you are ready to share your designs. You've learned the intermediate skills in Photoshop, and you are feeling confident.
Get ready to get critiqued to all hell, but it's ok. Starting off is rough, but that's how you learn. Accept feedback and improve your work. This is the best way to get better.
Some great design communities to get feedback are hunie.co and dribbble.com. These both require invites, but ask around, you should be able to find some quite quickly. Should you not find an invite, also check out behance and deviantart for sharing designs and getting feedback.
6. Connect with Designers
Talking to designers is one of the quickest and most interesting ways I learned some of the more unknown facts about design. Try to connect with designers over twitter or through email. Reach out and ask for tips, or some advice. Some designers are really busy and may not respond, but most will try to get back to you with some help. Hey, it doesn't hurt to ask right?
7. Practice, Practice, Practice
After getting the basics down and talking with some other designers the best way to improve is through practice. Working on a new design will help you better decide what looks good and what looks bad. It can help with your knowledge of fonts, colors, and spacing. Practice is the best way to get comfortable around the tools so that you can use them quickly.
8. Spread Your Work
As your work improves and you get better at knowing what designs look good, you will need to start sharing it. Not only on other design galleries, but more importantly on your own site. Having a personal portfolio is the best way to get your work out there for more eyes to see. It is also the perfect spot for potential prospects to contact you about design work or freelance jobs.
9. Land That Client
The first client is always the scariest. You may think, I'm not ready, I can't do this, what if they don't like it? These are just typical jitters. It happens from time to time. Be confident in your work. You've learned the skills, practiced, and received feedback. You are ready for the next step. Take on that client work and start being paid for the skills you've worked so hard to master. Another benefit of client work is that it forces you to learn some new things needed for certain projects, and helps you to become more professional.
10. Take Your Time
Try to plan your work so that you have time to revise and refine your designs. When starting out you may feel the need to rush through many projects so that you can make more money, or have a bigger portfolio. Getting work is great, and who doesn't like cash, but quality is always more important that quantity when it comes to your design work. Perfect your designs and work on going back to make subtle improvements. The subtlest improvements can sometimes change your design from an average work to something extraordinary.
11. Explore New Mediums
After mastering some design fields you should try to expand your skill-set. Granted you don't want to spread yourself too thin, it is always ok to gain a new hobby or explore a new interest. Try out photography, or experiment with illustration. This can be a great creativity booster and may be your next favorite thing to do. Design is a huge field, don't limit yourself to a single aspect of it.
12. Never Stop Improving
Never give up the original passion you had for design as a beginner. That fresh feel when seeing amazing new designs, that desire to replicate the best designers, and that idea to learn everything. Don't lose that. You will get busy as you improve and you may get used to routine, but try to keep working at your skills and learn new things. Also don't forget to help others. Giving back to the design community whether it be through free design resources or design articles is always helpful and can help you get more recognition, more design opportunities, and most importantly can help improve your skills.
Now that you've learned the basic tips to improving your work and workflow as a designer, it's time to make some cash. Check out this post with a huge list of unique ways for designers to make extra money.
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