Ifeanyi Ekperi

The WOW Logo Designer

Advise for a beginner Graphic Designer

One of the best things about creative professions is that there is no set time to join the bandwagon. You can become a professional at any time as soon as you set your mind/heart to it.

This is not an exhaustive list of advises for beginner Graphic Designers but you'll surely want to keep this handy as you journey on.
It is never too late or too early to start learning about graphic design. Design is about solving problems and it happens everyday.

There is only one way to truly improve your design skills. Keep practicing. Duplicate. Make lots of work and work more.

Improve Daily:
There are things that gives you goosebumps. They are designs you fall in love with at first sight. Grab them, redesign them. Create your own concepts of the designs.

When I started out, I followed a lot of Graphic Designers I liked their work, I would just try to replicate what they have done. They were my source of inspiration.
Note: Don't forget to probe why these designs were done the way they were done. Always try to understand why things were designed the way they were. That would help you get insights to the concepts used.

You have a taste, explore it.
Designing isn’t just about opening your Graphic Design suite and adding shapes together. It has gone beyond that.
You must find design in every part of your life. Designing is a way of life. Designs are borne from the mind, from imaginations and from experiences.

In your quest to designing from your own perspective (to suit your taste), you need to disrupt the process and make your designs match your taste.

"Every designer is unique and this is based on their own map of the design world."
Secondly, get hold of those designs you feel you don't like and reproduce them to suit your taste. Make them better.

Know your tools.
The Adobe Graphic suite is the most commonly used software package for design work, seconded by the Corel Graphic Suite. The both graphic suites are exceptionally good but most people prefer the Corel Graphics suite because of its simple tools - that makes it most used among beginners to play around with.
Master the tools. A good workman knows his tools. In all you do, keep learning, unlearning and relearning.

Innovate with your tools and remain a pro in this ever-changing profession. It takes years to master these tools, but only weeks to understand the basics of Graphics Design. Watch tutorials if you find an effect you want to replicate. There are many free and/or paid resources available at your disposal.

The Basics rocks, it shouldn't be skipped.

Typography is important: At the very minimum, know the difference between the types of fonts, along with what kerning, leading, tracking, and line-heights are. Get started by reading this.

Color Theory is important: Play around in Adobe Kuler to understand how complementary colors work together, what analogous means, why different shades of colors look better than others, etc. What each color mean and when combined, what they represent.
Colors speaks for your design and using the right combination can make your design stand out!

KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID (KISS): There is no reason to add a lot of effects and filters to just one design work. Yes, you were given a lot of effects but, that doesn't warrant you to use all of it in one piece of work.

Some of the best examples of solid graphic design work are the simplest pieces - less colours, less noise and less fonts with lots of whitespaces. Yes, lots of white spaces.

Focus on the details, know who and what you’re designing for. Target that audience, there’s no need to appeal to everyone. Know what colour and font faces suits your audience and use them. Visualize words and use industry concepts.
Not all design style fits all industry.

Flirt with your fonts. You’ll love it, and then you’ll hate it. Find another font you like. Use it, abuse it, then ditch it. Don't worry, font creators would always get us new ones 😁. It's not a crime neither is it a sin!

Steal. Like seriously, STEAL. Great artists steal. Read the book, “Steal Like an Artist.” Half of the points in this post are copied from other graphic designers who helped me learn. I use their thoughts to process mine, fill my concepts in here and make it sound ME.

That is also how your designs should be, steal, reconceptualize and make the design have a feel of You. Of course, it becomes yours.

But, note, your designs should be:
Either completely different or exactly the same, never similar.

Try to build your portfolio
Do design challenges. Offer local non-profits free design work. Don’t do spec work, it devalues the industry – but it is okay to work for free in the beginning. Not everyone deserves a free job even at your beginner level, you still have a right to say NO.

Ask for Criticism. Take it positively, keep an open mind. Be ready to be wrong. It’s the only way you’ll learn. Take note of every criticism and make your designs better.
You have a right to be wrong and so does your designs. But not always.

Talk about your work.
Be able to explain why you made certain design choices, especially when that criticism comes around.

If you have questions, ask them. Places like Reddit, quora are usually willing to answer your questions, assuming you’re not just asking them to solve your own design problem.

Learn learn learn and never stop learning. Learn from everyone. The more you learn the less you realize you know.

Listen to Mike Monteiro's talks. You may not agree with him, you may agree with him entirely. Either way, he'll give you a perspective into the design world you may not know.

You could be a great designer, but if people don't like you, or you aren't professional, you're going to have a hard time.
Be an active learner, not a passive learner.
An example of active learning is going to a library or buying books online via amazon, checking out a design book, reading it and taking notes on it. Using Mr. Google and searching for design inspirations.

An example of passive learning is asking people to tell you stuff on Reddit/Quora and never acting or doing something about it. Sitting in front of your computer with no clue of what to do and complaining of design Bloc.

It's time for you to start learning (Now with links to Amazon!) Make sure to pick at least one book and read:

Once you’re good at design, help aspiring designers.
Don't hoard your knowledge, it's for the universe - Ifeanyi Ekperi.

Graphic Design is a Business, right? Charge like you mean it.
Get some cash for your work. Be confidence to ask for a rate you deserve - it seriously works. Even if you are still a student and you feel your work or skills are pretty darn good, charge something that is on the higher end of appropriate / reasonable (still has to be appropriate with regards to the work / client).

The business side of Graphic Design (negotiations dispute settling etc.) is the hardest part of the profession to really get the hang of for us artists as we usually just want to do the work - then employ an accountant 😉.

Heads up: Did you notice how simple the book covers of the above listed resources for graphic designers is? That's what you should always take note of.

This post has been advises for a beginner Graphic Designer who want to stand out and be counted. I hope you learnt something today.

Why not help someone else by sharing this post. Thank you.

In all you do #BeYou100percent
I Care!

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