I posted a question on a group asking what advice designers would give to those just starting off. The response was fantastic, with insights from designers across various industries from company professionals to agency experts and independent freelancers.
Today, I want to share some of the best pieces of advice gathered from their experiences. Let’s dive into the 12 things a beginner designer needs to know to succeed.
1. Network with Diverse Talents
Network with people who excel in areas where you may not be as skilled. Collaboration with illustrators, photographers, product designers, or web developers on paid projects can lead to more extensive and rewarding opportunities.
2. Embrace Diverse Perspectives
Understand that there’s no one right way to design. Keep an open mind, and don’t judge ideas immediately. Being receptive to different perspectives can lead to innovative solutions.
3. Manage Your Time Wisely
Recognize that only about 20% of your time will be spent designing. Be prepared for meetings, critiques, planning sessions, and various other tasks. Consider these factors when pricing your work.
4. Leverage Existing Design Assets
In today’s world, not everything needs to be created from scratch. Utilize stock sites like Envato and iStock for pre-made assets, such as presentation templates, brand guidelines, and mock-ups.
5. Value Your Outcome, Not Your Time
If you’re an independent creative, avoid working for an hourly rate. Clients pay for the outcome you deliver, and as long as you meet their expectations, the time and effort you invest are your own concern.
6. Continuous Learning
Be prepared to keep learning throughout your career. The design industry evolves rapidly, driven by both fashion and technology. Staying informed and adapting to change is key.
7. Prioritize Quality Internships
Interning at a reputable company outweighs having a fancy title at a lesser-known one. A strong portfolio and effective communication about your work can open doors to top-tier companies early in your career.
8. Broaden Your Skill Set
Learn about the entire creative and marketing ecosystem. Explore areas beyond graphic design, such as account management, marketing, content development, and more. A diverse skill set enhances your career prospects.
9. Understand Design as Sales
Recognize that all design is, at its core, sales. You’re designing solutions to prompt action. Learn to attract and motivate through your work, and articulate your design’s purpose effectively.
10. Maintain a Creative Outlet
Have a creative outlet outside of work. Whether it’s painting, music, dance, or crafts, having a space where your decisions are final helps preserve your creative sanity.
11. Develop a Thick Skin
Don’t take critiques personally. Over time, you’ll need to develop a thick skin to feedback on your work. Stay teachable and view criticism as an opportunity for growth.
12. Build a Robust Network
Remember that no one stays in their job forever. Connect with creatives and professionals in various departments. Your network can become a valuable resource for referrals and job opportunities in the future.