As a designer, it is easy to be stuck in a rut. You find a style or niche that highlights your strengths, and before you know it, your graphic design portfolio is beginning to look a little… samey. So how do you add a new dimension to your work and break out of the mould? Here six practical and achievable ways to help you improve your graphic design skills.
Study Design Theory
Graphic design is a career rather than a trade. Of course, you can learn a lot by doing, and there are many ways to get into design without having a degree. But, at the end of the day, a thorough understanding of the discipline’s fundamentals, such as grid theory, color theory, typography, and the golden ratio, is essential.
This is when a formal design education proves its worth to many designers. There are many possibilities, ranging from entire university degrees to concentrated short courses to distant learning setups, and there are even some great free graphic design classes if you are constrained for cash.
Learn how to get More Feedback
Dealing with criticism is one of the most emotionally draining things we can do as artists. Nonetheless, if you want to develop your skills, it’s a must.
Positive feedback is excellent when it is well-deserved, but it doesn’t provide you with much more than an exaggerated sense of self-worth. And it can really be harmful to your continued progress if it’s unjustified and knee-jerk (see: mutual backslapping on many forums).
In your 9-to-5 job, doing the same thing over and again can cause your abilities to get stale and your excitement to wane. So, if you want to stay motivated to learn new things, establish your own side project.
It’s always easier to pick up a new design talent if you need it to do something specific, especially if it’s something personal to you. As a result, a passion project can lead to you learning new talents you’d never considered before, without the kind of self-discipline required for formal study.
There’s a saying in the world of digital start-ups: Fail fast. In other words, the only way to figure out what works best and what you are strong at is to try out a lot of different experimental design ideas and put them into practice.
When it comes to experimenting with new media, skills, and approaches, it’s an approach graphic designers can learn from. So, instead of utilizing the same fonts, colors, layouts, or software for each design project, change it up a little and try something new.
Include a wild new typeface. Instead of 2D, try 3D. Purchase some new graphic design software. Instead of using a pencil, sketch with a ballpoint pen or charcoal. See what happens if you break a rule. Consider how this design would have been approached in the past. Instead of photography, use illustrations. Increase the amount of whitespace by twofold. In short, throw convention up in the air and see what lands.