Are you thinking about getting started in graphic design? Maybe you've dabbled in Canva to make event invites or thrown together a social media graphic in Photoshop and fallen in love with the experience of creating.
You might even have checked out some of the great educational resources available from creators like PixImperfect on YouTube teaching Photoshop, or Abi Connick teaching Illustrator's pen tool.
A client may ask for a new logo, when in reality they're looking for a clarity on their messaging and positioning and a visual identity that can effectively communicate that through the medium of graphic design
Learning the software and tools available is definitely a part of the journey, but there's more to becoming a professional graphic designer than being familiar with the tools. And I'm not just talking about design theory or web design trends. In this post, I'm sharing five things I wish I knew as a business person when I was starting out with graphic design.
At least half of the challenge with graphic design is communicating clearly and effectively with your client. To begin with, you need to really understanding their brief, so you'll need to ask the right follow up questions during a discovery call to get to the crux of the problem that you're designing a solution to.
For instance, a client may ask for a new logo, when in reality they're looking for a clarity on their messaging and positioning and a visual identity that can effectively communicate that through the medium of graphic design. To get to this, you need to dig a little deeper into the why behind a client's brief.
Are they trying to attract a new audience? Better differentiate compared to competitors in the industry? Launch a new range of products or services that doesn't fit with their current brand? Once you understand the why, you can deliver something that solves that problem and doesn't just look pretty.
Being a perfectionist, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to let something go without having had time to finesse and polish it to the degree that I would have liked. However, that's exactly what has to be done sometimes.
The reality is, nine times out of ten a client is going to prefer done rather than perfect.
When a client deadline is looming and you're just not ready to let it go over, you have to ask yourself: 'What is the client going to prefer?'
Are they going to be fussing over every tiny little detail, that the shadowing was perfect or the pixel distance was exactly spaced between elements. Or are they going to prefer having a project that is finished, even if the re are 24 instead of 25 pixels between each element?
The reality is, nine times out of ten a client is going to prefer done rather than perfect. That can be a hard pill to swallow, but get the project sent over on time, learn from your shortcomings and put processes in place so they don't happen again, something that ties nicely into the next tip.
A good graphic designer needs to be able to think creatively and critically. However, they also need to be able to work well under pressure, and they need to be able to manage multiple projects at once.
Without a solid process, it can be very difficult to deliver consistent results and at the end of the day that's what clients will care about. Your results.
Most clients don't care if you laboured over your graphic design for hundreds of hours to create something truly breathtaking and revolutionary. They want something usable that resonates with their audience and gets the job done. Following a strict design process can help you deliver, time and again.
That's why I've developed a web design process inspired by the greats like Flux Academy's Ran Segall that I follow each and every time I start a new project.
A good graphic designer has an arsenal of tools at his/her disposal. These tools range from software programs to paper and pencils. It’s important to keep these tools organized so that you can access them quickly and efficiently.
One of the best things you can do when starting out in your career in graphic design is to create a toolbox system where you store all of the useful information, tools and resources at your disposal. I use Trello to do this, whereas others use Google Sheets or Notion.
Whichever system you do choose to use, make sure you consistently update it, refine it, and keep it organised so you can find the perfect app or tool for each job. Over the years, this toolbox will grow, so you'll need to develop a system so it doesn't become a mess.
Perhaps the best tip that I have for graphic designers that will save hours of time is to sketch ideas by hand first.
Try starting out with taking a pen and paper and begin to sketch out some concepts. This will allow you to ideate and iterate at a speed that just can't be matched using tools like Photoshop
Imagine this, you've just received a client brief to create a logo and you're about to fire up your computer to get right to work, you eager beaver you! Hang on there for just a second.
Instead of instantly jumping in to your design software of choice to create a concept, try starting out with taking a pen and paper and begin to sketch out some concepts. This will allow you to ideate and iterate at a speed that just can't be matched using tools like Photoshop and Illustrator.
One useful technique for UI design is the Crazy Eight technique, where you draw eight boxes on a page and ideate rapidly without prejudice to your ideas. Just get down eight different options with variations on layout, hierarchy, typography, imagery, and so on.
This allows you to get through a much larger amount of ideas than would be possible using the software alternative. It's much easier to find a gem of a concept from eight options than just one and you'll flex your creative problem solving skills with each idea you jot down.