Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

We’ve all heard it before, the person who claims to be a graphic designer because they know Photoshop. Or how about the small business owner who creates his own website to save on costs. Maybe you know someone who printed their own business cards off a graphic design template they downloaded online. Anybody who wishes to call themselves a graphic designer these days can, they just have to buy a computer, the latest Adobe Creative Suite and give themselves the title. Does that mean they are a good graphic designer? Without any training, probably not. It doesn’t mean they can’t be good over time, but graphic design is an art form that communicates an idea or a thought with visual clarity. It is a skill. A hard skill to master. Sure, it’s a skill that can be learned.

These Common Mistakes Should Be Avoided

Too Much Stuff – Poor design is usually cluttered design. Good graphic design communicates in a clear manner, and when there is so much stuff on the paper (or screen for websites) then the message gets lost. It’s one of the most common mistakes, to keep piling on elements to the design that aren’t necessary. One of the best tips I ever got was to strip away everything that isn’t necessary to the message and that is usually the most effective design.

Bad Type – Graphic design is so much more than just pretty pictures. One of the most important, if not the most important, piece of graphic design is typography. A huge mistake graphic designers make is poor font choices and poor type layout. Typography is not just picking a nice font either. It’s the relationship of the characters to each other, to the design piece, and to the message. The shape of the font, the size of the type, the color, all these things fall under the typography category and make or break your design. Study up on typography and try not to use too many different fonts in one design. One or two fonts is usually plenty, (sometimes three). I try to keep them clean and in relation to the design.

Effects – Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and QuarkXPress all have preset effects in the program. Some are nice, some are not so nice. Using a bunch of them together usually results in a disaster. There is a time and place for drop shadows, and even glows, but most of the other effects look pretty cheesy.

Trendy – The best graphic design transcends time. Take a look at the work of Paul Rand, http://www.paul-rand.com, his designs from the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s still look great today. Trendy design for the sake of trendiness is not good design. Unless you require a trend in your graphic design try to communicate with good design principles and your own creativity instead.

While working with these common mistakes in mind you’ll be able to further enhance your graphic design skills.

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Graphic design is a field that is quickly changing, both creatively and technically, and while it is easy to get caught up in learning new technical skills, it is just as important to focus improving and pushing the limits of our creativity.

Here are a few tips, exercises and practices that have helped me continue learning, strengthen creativity and become an all around better designer.

Become a collector
Each time you see a design that inspires you, collect it, bring it home and file it away. I have hundreds of brochures, posters and other collateral that I have collected over the years that is stacked away in folders and boxes that I can quickly access, a great source of inspiration when needed.

Buy books
Having an extensive book collection is always essential to learning. I try buying a new book at least every 2-3 weeks that range from inspirational, educational and technical topics.

Read design-related blogs
I can’t stress enough how much information I have learned by reading other great designers blogs. The web is an invaluable resource of information, take advantage of it and actually use it!

Start a design blog
Having started my blog only a month ago, I have found it to be extremely useful and educational for myself. It has made me more aware of the design community and more analytical of my own work.

Join and be active in the design community
As a designer, joining the online design community is a must. Not only does it keep you up-to-date in the design world, but is also great for feedback and critique.

Network with other designers
I always try to search out the designers that have more experience and talent than I do. I know – it’s hard to admit someone else is better than you, but networking with people of higher skill levels will push you to work harder and learn more.

Take lots of photos
Pictures of building designs, textures, shapes of shadows on walls, etc. Basically anything that interests me from a design stand point.

Create fake projects
Whenever I find myself with free time I create fake projects. Create a fake brand for a company. Design a logo, stationary, brochure, website. It’s good to do this once in awhile because it keeps design fun and let’s your creativity run wild without limitations. It’s often easy to get caught in a rut when clients start dictating and your work no longer becomes “yours”.

Redo your old designs
I know what it feels like to look at your early days of design and think “Oh my! What was I thinking?! I need to get rid of that immediately”, but it is important to keep that work. It will help you see if you’re moving forward and improving your skills. Instead of throwing away or deleting old projects, try reworking them.

Take classes
Many local colleges allow you to register for classes without enrolling full-time. It will not only teach you some new things technically, but also put you back in a classroom of your peers.

Learn something new
Whenever I am in a creative slump I try something new or do something completely unrelated to design. Getting your mind off things and into something new, usually has a funny way of working itself back around.

Grab a sketchbook
Helps you work through ideas quickly and without limitations of design software. Has made a HUGE difference in my designs.

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