What does it take to make a ‘good’ graphic designer very good?
You have now become a graphic designer and you want to differentiate yourself from the crowd and become a very good graphic designer perhaps? If you’re confident about the skills you’ve got as a designer, maybe you need help because there are one or two things you feel, you are lacking costing you opportunities or even worse client work. all these interviews you’ve been getting.
Or maybe you have never worked in graphic design and you are just starting out or you are thinking about studying graphic design to embark on this brand-new journey? This article will explore what it takes to be a good graphic designer covering the essentials required to stand out from the crowd and get further ahead in your career. Also fell free to check out these Graphic Design Courses.
Graphic designers are on the whole to come by – after all, it only takes a look at adverts on Fiverr, Freelancer, People Per Hour or the such like to find a so-called graphic designer claiming they are the bee’s knees, but designers that are trained properly and ‘good’ can be somewhat more of a challenge.
For those looking for a quick fix and a financial saving hiring a designer on a site like People Per Hour in the capacity as a graphic designer can be a good cheap solution. Equally for those looking to work free of limitations there are many opportunities in the market available through new media, freelancing service websites, as well as e-commerce sites, can facilitate this. But what about things that often get overlooked and that money cannot buy? At Blue Sky Graphics we call that thing ‘talent’ and being a ‘good’ designer. Han, Master Graphic Design Tutor at Blue Sky Graphics talks about the importance of long terms goals in terms of study and training properly then short-term gains and taking small jobs without training properly. According to Han “ a good graphic designer is far more likely to get more repeat business than an average one” which in turns means more consistent income.
When we look at any high performer, words like “outstanding,” “incredible,” and “inspiring “come to mind (particularly when paying attention to film critiques). Here’s another: “very good.” This article sets out to discover the traits, characteristics, qualities, behaviours and norms it takes to become a very good graphic designer.
There needs to be a balance and people in this industry should strive to be good enough and not waste too much time trying to be the best as there are lots of versions of the best and each client will have different subjective needs and preferences. Senior Graphic Design Tutor Marco Ribeiro at Blue Sky Graphics school says for anyone looking to start out in the graphic design world “don’t necessarily lose time trying to be the best graphic designer just be enough and that is what I call being very good… it comes in many forms including talent but also listening skills and attentiveness to clients requests for example”. In the same way that you should work smart and not work hard, here are some of our top tips that will distinguish and surpass a good graphic designer to a very good one.
What do graphic designers do first?
To understand the difference from a good graphic designer to a very good graphic designer and all the traits, characteristics, qualities and behaviours in between it is useful to gain a universal understanding of what we do.
Graphic designers in their most basic form create visually impressive pieces of work. Good graphic designers will do this well, but very good graphic designers will do this so well that their work is recognised leaving impressions on others that in turn generates future work.
Although there are now many different directions that a graphic designer can take in their career, the fundamentals of the role remain the same. They produce and influence branding, which can in turn help to promotes ideas, products or services to millions of customers throughout the world. A graphic designer is a conversationalist; they make conversation design. According to Marco Ribeiro, (Senior Graphic Design Tutor from Blue Sky Graphics) “It doesn’t matter if the design is digital or illustrative, or whether it’s a branding or media project; it’s all about making images speak”.
Good graphic designers will communicate well but very good graphic designers will do this so well that their work is recognised leaving impressions on others that in turn generates future work.
How to be a very good graphic designer?
Starting from the basics is essential and you need to know and then master Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. Adobe has controlled this space for the past 25 years, and it does not look like that will be shifting spaces any time soon.
If you are not a proficient user (or plan to become a proficient user) of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, you should probably start now as it can take a while. Training can take up to 2 years although Blue Sky Graphics Online one-to-one course will take 9 months.
It is an essential graphic design prerequisite and there is no way to avoid it either. Almost every job post found on job boards require candidates to be proficient using the Adobe suite of programs. If you haven’t come that far yet then consider the 0110 Graphic Design Course offered by Blue Sky graphics, with the main objective of creating a commercial portfolio geared to getting work in just 9 months!
What are the top skills for a good graphic designer?
Other prerequisites outside of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are soft skills that you will need to work in the industry.
The most important are:
It is a tough thing to communicate! But a graphic designer’s job is to communicate a client’s ideas, so you’ll also need excellent communication skills to offer and charm them. It’s important to maintain professionalism in awkward situations and you need to be clear with a client on the brief so as not to be dubious about anything. Try to be comfortable taking advice from unexpected sources. Good graphic designers often reveal pieces of themselves in their work, so you can’t be afraid to expose yourself in your communication.
* Being able to take any type of criticism and respond professionally and productively, possibly the toughest thing for any graphic designer.
As a designer, you must be good at taking direction to develop your work and build on interaction. It’s an evolving process and often produces positives in the end despite maybe not liking criticism. Remember, there is absolutely no reason to take it personally and get defensive and come up with a lame excuse. Be responsive and open-minded. Take advantage of other expertise vast knowledge that is out there. Be opportunistic and listen to your colleagues and seize the day with their information so that you can enhance your design skills
* Being able to collaborate and listen, listen, listen.
Many great designers and possibly the person that might hiring if (if you are looking for work) would have probably started out very humble. They became sponges, listen to lots and absorbed as much information as they could. They took notes and collaborated with team members. They were interested and grew because they listened to the people around them with an awareness of cultural sensitivities.
* Having passion and drive in your work ethic.
You don’t end up in a creative industry unless you do what you are passionate about drives you. But even with passion and talent, the design is a labour of love. The work unavoidably brings with its unsocial hours, big edits and mounting deadlines with work overloads. Get the can of Red Bull (or a healthier alternative) and drink it with your drive to keep going when you are depleted.
* Having the ability to juggling creative decisions and business decisions.
As well as the aesthetically pleasing aspect of design, it’s good to make commercial sense too. As a designer, you must think logistically and commercially to make things work for your clients financially. Creativity is needed not only to produce something brilliant but also to work out what will sell and make the business.
* Having an awareness of HTLM.
Some employers are you to become familiar with HTML and have an awareness of it at the very least. On a sample of 20 graphic design jobs, we looked at (15/03/2020) almost one-third of all graphic design jobs asked for basics of HTML. Please note that while you will not need to build a whole website from scratch if you can make minor changes on one that would help set you apart as a good designer.
* Having an awareness of UI/UX design.
This is a great skill to possess, but you may not need it entirely as a graphic designer. It is worth noting that if you want to be able to apply for higher paid job roles, start to learn UX/UI. Blue Sky graphics teach UX/UI and the good thing is that you can command a good amount of more money just for having UI/UX knowledge on your CV! Some jobs we sampled offered £8,000 more than average with UX/UI as a required skill.
What behaviours are needed to be a good graphic designer?
A good graphic designer is will have common traits and behaviours such as being curious in their outlook and trying to find out why designs are the way they are. Here are four of the most important behaviours.
Good graphic designers are:
1. Mindset behaviour. Improving their skills constantly.
Technology is constantly changing, and it is generally expected for a designer to be up to speed with recent advances in tech. Remember that others might be able to help us get things done faster. Who likes to be told how to do something better than they already know? But what if they’re right? What if that Illustrator shortcut saves you three hours of production time? Ask any good graphic designer and they’ll tell you they were ready and eager to learn and explore new design tricks.
2. Fear behaviour. Stepping outside of your comfort zone.
There will be times that you will need to think laterally and times you need to think outside the box. At some point, you will be faced with a design problem and may think to yourself, “Gosh. I never learnt that at school, now what am I supposed to do?” Fear is bad and can hinge our development so try not to get sacred.
3. Good work behaviour. Ensure you have nothing short of a good graphic design portfolio.
Once you are ready as a graphic designer, have learnt the software and theory or taken a course and now you are looking for work, you will know the value of having a portfolio to present to a prospective employer. Next to your resume, it is the single most important item in your application and your portfolio represents you. So, what goes into a successful hardcopy representation of your work? Your best work in front. Our blog on the portfolio focuses on what employers look for in a portfolio. Lori from Blue Sky Graphics talks of the “graphic design portfolio being the most important thing on which potential clients and employers will categorically 100% judge you”
4. Inspirational behaviour. Constantly Looking for Inspiration.
Find something inspiring and draw on it. How do you start your day? We all have our rituals. Be up to date with the world and keep an eye on what the current design trends are and where they are going. Keeping a pool of design inspiration has also proven helpful.
There are multiple ways to accelerate your path from average to good and remember a good graphic designer will NEED, and it is an absolute need to know Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign which are the most requested skill in most UK and European job requirement adverts.
Always be curious. You won’t get far in design if you don’t have a love of art or an interest in the world around you. Designers love to look beyond the surface of things, to explore both the minute detail and the big picture.
It is the small things can really help you stand out when a hundred other applications with the same graphic design skills that pass over a hiring manager’s desk.
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