Mastering Your Craft — 13 Tips to Improve as a Graphic Designer

Graphic design is an ever-evolving industry. Even if you’ve been at it for years, there are still so many new things to learn. There are a myriad of books, guides, and lectures being launched — giving them a try would be ideal. In this article, we look at Mastering Your Craft — 13 Tips to Improve as a Graphic Designer.

They aren’t the only way to better your craft, though. Below we have compiled a list of 13 tips to improve your craft. You’ll not only be able to produce better work but manage client work better too.

They’re perfect for designers that are just learning the ropes.

As a graphic designer, you’re forced to keep changing the way you work, and the techniques you use. It’s fundamental to your success. Art Nouveau, Art Deco, or Minimalistic pieces might be raves in the future.

You’re recommended to experiment as much as you can. This may seem difficult, but you’ll be experimenting by yourself, so it’s alright to fail.

Just trying out new styles is not what you need to do. You should also master them to an extent. Of course, you won’t be able to try everything out. Create a list of popular styles that may be required and learn them.

Grids are the backbone of the work you do. The type of grids you use influence the pieces you’ll be able to create.

Similar to trying new styles out, experiment with new grids. You’ll be able to expand your horizons more.

Although learning new art styles will let you handle more clients, you could go the other route and specialize in some. It would help with your efficiency as you’ll get work done fast once you’re an expert in a particular style.

You’ll also be able to refine your craft. This would help get your name out there when you become good at it.

How do you pick a niche to specialize in? Those that are in-demand will leave you with a killer arsenal. However, make sure that the one you choose to specialize in will get your client work. As you know, some are more popular than others.

For example, photography-based work has been on the rise.

Graphic design falls into 3 three main categories. There is:

  • Photography
  • Illustration
  • Type-based

There are many art styles you can choose from to specialize in. However, having experience in more than one is just as useful. The best graphic designers think about style before starting their work, so they don’t have to deal with trial and error.

You probably make drafts before going into projects. How do you do them? A pen on paper for quick drafts is speedier than using digital software.

More importantly, make them highly detailed. You would be able to explore ideas fully before investing in something that doesn’t work out.

A good practice would be to create thumbnails of the design you’re going for and roughly placing the colours you want to include. It would give you a good idea of how your vision would look like.

Once you’ve befriended people in the industry, why not collaborate with them? You can also add connections to your portfolio. Showing clients that you have good networking skills is important, and the collaboration would let you refine your craft as well.

You can work with someone that has more experience. This would help you move out of your comfort zone and learn new skills. You’ll also pick up their techniques in the process.

What’s great about the collaboration is that it’ll open your eyes to an expert’s perspective as well.

This point may not apply to any designer. That being said, apply for an internship if you’re a novice. Don’t just snag one anywhere, though. Make sure that the company you’re joining is reputed.

You’ll be trained under experts in the field. You’ll also learn how to handle the business side of the industry, which will go a long way.

However, the work environment is also important. If you spend some time researching a certain company, you can have a better grasp of what to expect. You won’t be able to absorb advice in a toxic work environment. Unfortunately, bigger names tend to be this way.

The tablet you own directly influences the quality of work you’ll be able to produce. You will need an upgrade if you have to plug it into a monitor to work. Thankfully, there are standalone ones around.

Make sure you know when they were released. Newer standalone drawing tablets come with superior RAM, more vibrant displays, comfortable styluses, and expert drawing apps, like Procreate. They’re the ones that are most worth your time.

A good choice would be the Microsoft Surface Pro 7. You can even plug a keyboard into it, using it as a mini-computer. Its processor and memory would help you load software like Photoshop effectively.

If you’re a novice, know that the software you use can also affect the type of designs you create. There new, more updated versions of software constantly being released, like Adobe Photoshop Elements 2021 which is coming out soon.

However, some of these, like Adobe Illustration and Sketch are great for logo design and interfaces. Meanwhile, software like Photoshop is the best for photo editing. As mentioned, creating art and switching between software would be easy if you have a standalone tablet.

Whether you’re working on a lot of tasks or not, you can make your life easier by using project management software. There are many of them around. Names like Scoro, Jira, Asana, and Workzone are the best.

You’ll be able to organize projects depending on when they’re due, and you’ll always be on top of things. Clients would love this.

The extent of your portfolio influences how successful you would be. You may have a good chunk of work included; however, it may not be enough. Clients can be picky, so they will want to see as much as possible.

Everyone in the art world knows that styles change over time, so what you have chosen to showcase may not be indicative of what you can currently do. Try and update it with as few pieces as you can.

The more diverse they are, the more people will be drawn to your work.

How much time do you have on your hands? If you can handle the work, try and redo your portfolio. Your portfolio should include your best work. Looking back and analyzing how you can improve would let you pick up on things you weren’t aware of before.

Doing it now and then is a good exercise to help you reach perfection. How often are you supposed to do it? As mentioned, your art style might change over time. You can look back at your work at the end of each year.

This won’t help you improve your workflow or skill, but it would satisfy your clients. Isn’t this what’s most important at the end of the day?

Creating two or three proposals for them would allow them to pick something that would work best.

This would save you time in the end as you won’t have to redo the request.

When it comes to the graphic design industry, it keeps changing every few years. Whether you’re a novice or professional, there are many things to learn. This would not only help you better your craft, but you would be able to handle the business side of things better too.

In terms of how you can improve, the best point would be to be adventurous. By mastering new styles, you’ll be able to try new projects. You can also try out grid-work, which would let you work on new things.

The quality of your tab is important too. How did you do great work with a sub-par one? Standalone ones like the Surface Pro or iPad Pro would let you attach keyboards, letting you use them as computers. You’ll be able to use expert design software like Illustrator, Procreate and editing software like Photoshop with ease.

But make sure that the tab you’re going to purchase is new. A new one would have a better processor and memory.

Last but not least, critique yourself, and keep honing your skills. Expand your portfolio and redo some of your best work while you’re at it. The latter would drastically help you improve and allow you to stand out from the rest. This can go a long way in helping you attract clients.

We hope you have enjoyed this article about Mastering Your Craft — 13 Tips to Improve as a Graphic Designer. If you would like more personal tips, advice, insights, and access to our community threads and other goodies join me in our community. You can comment directly on posts and have a discussion.

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Author Bio
Daniel Young has always had a passion for graphic design. He started by working at advertising firms and is now a freelancer. He aims to help newbies become successful, and you’ll find him posting informative guides on his field online.

Award Winning International Brand Identity Design Studio: Creating Adaptable Visual Identities that are Memorable & Timeless. Working With Clients Globally.