There’s always room for improvement. This adage applies across industries and expertise, but it has remarkably strong meaning in the creative industry. There are so many variations in styles, mediums, and schools of thought that the spectrum for improvement in design is practically infinite.
With so many options available, there’s a lot of room for growth in design. According to these design experts, there are a few key ways to become a better designer, especially if you’re just starting out.
Master the Basics
Art trends are always evolving, but the fundamentals of great design remain the same for a reason. There’s a science to why our eyes are drawn to certain images and why colors evoke various moods. To understand this on a deep level, you must start with the basics.
Visual artist, Kat Hooper can’t emphasize this point enough. “Learn as much as you can about composition,” she says. “Composition is key to designing and creating dynamic and interesting drawings, web design, pretty much anything visual you are going to design. If an image is poorly composed, there is only so much that can be done to help make it look okay.”
It’s pretty safe to say anyone who has worked with a badly composed image knows exactly what she means. Starting with a great, professional image is the perfect base for your design, but color is also important.
Kat suggests learning how colors interact with each other. “I promise, it might sound boring, but it’s truly fascinating to learn about because it teaches you so much about how we perceive color. Once you’ve mastered color theory, you can work within any type of color palate and create beautiful results.”
When you design something, you’re basically selling a feeling. And you must utilize every asset you have at your disposal to support that feeling. It’s not enough to use a thought-provoking picture and then ignore the fine details that go into customizing it.
Technology constantly generates new avenues for creativity that can be used to elevate your design. Brian De La Torre, EVP of Creative at Trepoint, suggests using Photoshop Actions to bring your image to the next level.
“Photoshop Actions are an incredibly efficient way to get the perfect photo or graphic effect that you are trying to achieve,” Brian explains. “Whether you’re wanting to add an Instagram filter effect to a photo or a grungy, worn-out look to a graphic or type, Photoshop actions allow designers a wide range of effects at the touch of a button.”
Since most actions are non-destructive (meaning effects are applied with techniques such as smart filters and adjustment layers without changing the original source file), you can play around with the scale of the effects to find the perfect look.
Experiment With Reckless Abandon
When you’re creating, let go of your critic and experiment. Just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. After all, that’s what creation is all about.
Try using various creative avenues to enhance your designs. Sometimes they’ll work and sometimes they’ll fail miserably, but ultimately you’ll learn some valuable skills in the process.
Lisa Young, owner of Olive + Spark Design Studio, believes that everything is fair game and likes to try new platforms for her artwork. “Animated GIFs are reemerging as a go-to animation for designers. One of my favorite Photoshop tools is Timeline. This tool utilizes frames to create animations that can then be saved as a GIF and used in websites, email campaigns, and more. I’ve created animated announcements and holiday cards for my design business that garner a great response!”
Remember, design is very personal. Don’t compare yourself to others. The secret sauce you bring to the table is your own unique perspective. Keep that in mind as you evolve your art!