Welcome back creatives to Part 2 of Timeless Graphic Design Advice. You can read Timeless Graphic Design (Part 1) over here.
We talked about the importance of a concept, design as a tool for problem solving and the importance of knowing what you’re getting into.
This time, we take it a step further.
6.) Sometimes it’s better to know the expert then to be the expert.
Graphic Designers aren’t always just Photoshop whizzes. For example, being a designer for print isn’t just about putting text on inDesign and letting it run. You have to consider aspects like bleeds, gutters and what sort of printing methods gets used.
You also have to do a lot of research about how much it’s going to cost, which company to use and whether or not you’ve done the right job with the proof. Instead of cutting your time and trying to master all of this, go to the people who already know this like the back of their hand. Clients more often than not prioritize two things: output and their deadline – so, if the task isn’t within your scope don’t force it.
It’s better to look for someone to collaborate with, who is in line with your ideas – so both of you can work together to achieve the same goal. Working together with other people also can give you more insights on projects that you might not have thought about rather than working alone. This also gives you more time and leeway to focus on the aspects of the project that you’re good at, rather than grasping at straws for the parts you don’t know as well. Task delegation and collaboration exist for a reason.
This isn’t to say that learning isn’t good for you. I’m a big supporter of continuous education especially in an industry where just lagging for a few months can cause you to fall behind spectacularly. Being in the know is an asset that will take you far, but trying to master everything will get you to fall behind just as quick.
Good design begins with honesty, asks tough questions, comes from collaboration and from trusting your intuition.
7.) Habits make you more productive, find ones that will further your career.
What no one really says about graphic design is that it’s not so much an occupation, but a lifestyle. It’s a weird industry in that picking up a pencil is just as much as it is leisure as it is a sign that you should be getting back to work. It also makes times management really difficult to do because it’s easy for priorities to blur.
Different methods work for different people and it’s all about finding out what works for you as a person and ordering your life around that.
For example — I am a serial to-do-list maker and Google calendar aficionado. I make a list of goals for myself every month, further divide that into weekly and daily lists. This might drive someone insane, but I am a piping hot mess when I don’t have my lists in order. On my list of monthly goals are things like: ‘Create 8 pieces of personal artwork’ and ‘Read 8 books about marketing’. Write down things that you feel will help further your career. This will expand your horizons and encourage you to do things such as learn new techniques and explore more options.
8.) Share your work, find your niche and get exposed.
Do you ever get that little voice in the back of your head that says things like: “Don’t post that, your work is disgusting” or “Don’t talk to that super cool artist, he’s out of your league” ? Stop listening to it. Insecurity is one of the most awful things that can anchor you away from success. You have to be loud in order to get noticed. You have to be aggressive about giving feedback so that other people can give you feedback. It makes you a better designer.
Give back to the community by making things like free brushes or tutorials or fonts. Be a two way way street in that you can be approachable and do just as much approaching. I always try to talk to artists/creative professionals that I idolize. Whether it’s through tweets, asks on Tumblr or attending events to try to get to know them. Strike up conversations and realize that your art idols are also human beings and not just twitter usernames with over a thousand followers. Or better yet, make friends with people. Joining forums or commenting around will help you go far. You can always learn something from other people.
Authenticity is what makes a relatable person believable. It is what makes the relatability sustainable. Anyone can fake relatability for a time, but authenticity is what makes it real.
9.) Know your market.
Before you design anything, you have to first consider who you’re designing it for. Who are the primary viewers/users of this graphic? What sort of things would they appreciate? How is their internet connection and how tech-savvy are they? Will they access it through mobile or desktop?
Right now, we’re at an age where data is at our finger tips. Research is easier than ever and claiming not to know something is no longer an excuse. Only when you establish your consumer and the industry you’re participating in is when you go about deciding the aesthetic approach.
Doing it the other way around leads to you, as a designer, having to justify your aesthetics instead of having your design speak for itself. If my target market was in their mid-80s – I wouldn’t go around doing something with tiny text and flat design, for example. Make sure your designs are both age and culturally appropriate. If you’re designing for small business’ try to hang out at the shop and research who the customers of the business are so you can tailor your design better. In addition, never underestimate your consumer.
10. Keep it Simple, Stupid.
The KISS rule is the last design staple that I feel should never go out of trend. Ask yourself: Do I really need to add this element to my design? What will it contribute? Whether it’s the mile-long shadow or some sparkles – it’s got to have purpose and it’s got to contribute to the user experience. We must consider our canvas, our concept and our audience and how much they need out of the design. If it is unnecessary, it can be removed. Approach it coming from the perspective of a user instead of a designer. If I was someone who had no idea how to work Adobe Creative Suite – would I appreciate it? Does it communicate my point across?
Design is a form of communication and when that fundamental fact is impaired, it is no longer classified as design. So, break your design down to it’s bare bones and from there see what you can create, improve and innovate.
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
That wraps up our ‘Timeless Graphic Design Series’ – if you like what we’ve written and enjoy our content please let us know in the comments below. You can also follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook! We appreciate any and all feedback that you may have for this article or this website, so don’t be afraid to let us know!