With modern products and services largely depending on good design in order to be appealing to their customers, the demand for skilled designers is growing day by day. Today, designers come from all kinds of backgrounds; some may have taken courses in school or even earned a graphic design degree or similar, whilst others are self-taught. If you’re a self-taught designer and want to improve and fine-tune your skills, there are several ways in which you can do this.
#1. Follow Design Blogs and Read Books:
Today, there’s so much information that’s freely available online when it comes to design and improving your skills. Many designers will also blog about their work and provide you with information that you can pick up tips from, get inspired by, and learn something new from. Learning is an ongoing process, particularly when you work in the design industry. And, since the industry is constantly changing, it can be all too easy to get lost or seriously fall behind if you’re not pro-actively keeping up. Since you are a self-learner, you’ll need to make sure that you are staying up to date with all the latest trends and news by following current design blogs and reading books on the subject on a regular basis.
#2. Learn the Stories Behind Your Design Inspiration:
Whether you’re a graphic designer, web designer or work in computer-aided design of another kind, finding inspiration is a task that you are probably used to doing on a daily basis. Finding inspiration can also be a very interesting task, particularly if you are a curious person. One good idea is to search for popular ads and be open-minded when studying or watching them. You should consider what it is that made these ads do so well, and how and what you can learn from them. And, another way to find more inspiration and a better understanding of design is to discover the stories behind some iconic brand or product designs. For example, checking out the evolution of a certain famous logo or product is a great way to discover more about how design, brands, and products move with the times.
#3. Join and Participate in Design Communities:
Bear in mind that as a designer, your work will not always speak for itself. You may become very good at designing but if you are looking to further leverage your design skills, it’s important to put the effort in to put yourself out there. Designers who are known and have built a reputation for themselves are the ones who have done so through speaking at conferences, writing books and blogs, and promoting themselves both online and offline. You should prioritise taking part in more design communities, and in doing so, you will become more well-known and build a larger reputation for yourself. You will be able to meet other designers who you can connect with and possibly even work with in the future. The best way to start is in an online community, such as a forum or social media group.
#4. Get Feedback and Critique:
Another benefit of joining as many design communities as possible is that forums and online groups are not only a great way to build your reputation, but also some of the best places to share your work and ask for feedback. It’s completely normal to feel nervous about receiving a critique of your work, especially when it is something that you have put a lot of passion and effort into. However, taking and receiving feedback and critique is absolutely key to improving any type of skill, not just design. Bear in mind that when there is room for improvement, there is more opportunity to learn from this compared to when you have everything right. When you use the communities to ask for honest feedback, you will be able to learn new techniques, ideas, and design trends.
#5. Sign up for a Course:
Even if you are self-taught, there’s nothing wrong with signing up for courses to improve your knowledge and skills in the area of design that you specialise in. For example, if you are learning something like computer-aided design, expert CAD training can give you a significant head start as these programs can be challenging to learn by yourself.
Today, there are also a wide range of courses and other learning materials available online which you can make use of, even if you are working full-time as a designer. Online courses are available from many online and offline schools; you could even earn an online degree in design from the comfort of your home. Online courses are also often more affordable than taking classes at college or university, too – not only are tuition fees generally lower, but you’ll also be able to work studying around working full-time in design or elsewhere and save on associated costs such as accommodation or transport.
#6. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment:
One thing about creative designing is that you can often approach your design from almost any number of ways, but only a few of them will actually be a perfect fit. Design is all about the visual look and feel, so the best way to ensure that you are appealing to your audience is to practice as much as you can with your design. For example, the way in which we use fonts and typefaces in graphic design or videography carry a large amount of meaning and can completely change the message and the way that it is received, depending on how it is used. Colour is also another key element of your design; it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about colour psychology and experiment with different options to determine which one will have the biggest emotional effect on your audience.
#7. Remake Your Favourite Designs:
When it comes to getting inspiration, there’s nothing wrong with remaking or remixing your favourite designs for practice and experimentation. Finding interesting, new or even well-known designs then either reproducing or reworking them in new ways will enable you to get a better understanding of the techniques used, to figure out the design principles and technical skills that were put into creating the original. Then, you can implement what you learn in future design projects.
#8. Build Your Portfolio:
A solid portfolio is something that every kind of designer needs to improve their reputation, gain clients, and create a name for themselves in the industry. Start collecting all of your designs in one place; a portfolio website is one of the best ways in which to do this, as they can be accessed by anybody who wants to learn more about what you do. Once you have a collection of your work, it’s easier to show off your best projects. If you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to work on pieces that are just for your portfolio – don’t wait for paid work in order to build one up. Go back to your design communities, too, and ask for feedback.
Did you find these tips helpful? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.