Graphic Designer: What Skills and Habits Should You Acquire?

by Mike Jansen

Graphic design has continuously evolved through the years. In the past, this industry was focused primarily on published and printed media and advertising. With the rise of the digital age, the mastery of design software has become a prerogative. Aside from graphic design skills, online illustrators are also required to acquire specific skills and habits to stand out in their chosen profession.

Visual concepts and illustrations are put together in one piece to create typesetting’s and motion graphics for electronic media. These should be able to convey ideas that motivate, enlighten and attract the populace. However, despite their critical role in the success of different industries, the employment of graphic designers is anticipated to rise by only 3 % between the years 2020 and 2030. This figure is deemed slower compared to other professions.

Skills vs. Habits, What’s the Difference?

Topping the list of graphic design tips is striking the perfect balance between an illustrator’s skills and habits. With this in mind, it is essential to differentiate the two in terms of “capacity and frequency.” 

Skill means the capacity and proficiency to do something. On the other hand, habit is directly proportional to frequency in doing a particular action. It is a facet of a person’s conduct that is repetitively and steadily done. Doing something often translates into an inclination and predilection in the human brain to help us function more efficiently.

A skill then would mean something we learn, while habit implies something we create. Even authorities in behavioral psychology find it challenging to differentiate habits and skills. In reality, they may appear as twins, though not identical. They are actually at a juncture with knowledge,  desire, and capability.

The Important Skills and Habits a Graphic Designer Should Have

Now that we are able to draw the line between skills and habits, let us dive in deeper to understand what it takes for an illustrator to make it in the graphic design profession.

Graphic Designer: What Skills and Habits Should You Acquire?

A. Skills

1. Creativity.

Like any other element in the advertising field, the work of a graphic designer requires a lot of creative analysis. It is an art form in the sense that the job entails the creation of an attractive layout. However, illustrations should not be dependent on aesthetics alone. There must  be a science behind the design being produced; otherwise, the designer may fail to communicate the idea that needs to be highlighted on purpose. 

For example, an illustrator working with a copy should use his skills not just to create something pleasing to the eyes but a strategic placement of design that will entice people to read the text. Running letters in the background, no matter how cool, would completely miss the point if they make the message impossible to read.

2. Communication. 

The ability to convey a subject matter visually and verbally is at the core of graphic design. Artists should be able to deliver the content as stated in the company’s brief. They should also be able to relay pitches and ideas to their respective team and employers. Business proposals and presentations may even require written communication skills.

On certain occasions, they may even need to rationalize specific design choices to other employees and creatives unfamiliar with design. Furthermore, unclear communication channels may make it harder for subordinates to follow instructions, affecting the success of the task at hand.

Ultimately, the goal of the design process is deciphering the psychology of consumerism. A graphic designer must be able to get his message across in order to translate a design into consumer action and profit. Positive customer experiences are not limited to in-store transactions.

In fact, the first encounter they will have with a brand would have something to do with either e-commerce or print. Experts in the field know this, and they seize the opportunity to position their graphic designers to promote the product and drive sales.

3. Application of Design Principles.

To create the best graphic design, a creator should begin with a concise knowledge of design principles. Various element combinations may appear in one frame and should work together to express an appealing and compelling message. A graphic designer should have an eye for what design choices are critical to improving the output.

If a design background already distracts the concept, an illustrator must decide whether to modify or remove background altogether. You can make your project stand out by using time-tested principles such as contrast, the focus of interest, replication and rhythm, synchronization, the direction of movement, and a sense of balance. 

4. Problem-Solving.

A client’s brief can only be addressed through a precise graphic design. In order to deliver ideas across, processes may involve finding a remedy to design issues or revisiting layout strategies to address the client’s needs. Needless to say, an influential graphic designer needs to have the mindset of a problem-solver. Problems must be detected and understood early on so alternative resolutions can be set in place to improve the project and build on the strength of other elements.

It is important to note that a scientific and artistic design strategy must work under the concept of teamwork. Of all graphic design tips, the most critical is to develop the humility to acknowledge that each team player has an equally relevant skill set. Collaboration is vital to success. Individual unique perspectives are necessary to solve even complex dilemmas. 

5. Time Management.

Your job may require you to juggle several ventures at once, and you would have to deal with time-bounded targets from different clients. As such, you need to be able to manage workloads and line up tasks in order of their complexity and urgency. Some clients might ask outputs to be available within a day or two; these individuals should receive urgent consideration.

You may finish other tasks within a longer time frame, let us say around a week or more. These tasks should be scheduled last but never forgotten. Always keep track of your deadlines and schedules and ensure you do not agree to receive a tremendous amount of work simultaneously. No matter how tempting, it is never wise to sacrifice quality over quantity. Be realistic with your goals and never run the risk of destroying your reputation for a few more bucks.

6. Use of Photoshop, InDesign, and Figma.

Artificial intelligence and a highly digitized media are part of modern reality no aspiring graphic designer can avoid. Nearly all job openings necessitate their candidates to be knowledgeable in these programs. Out of a hundred job posts that have been studied by Ryan Mc Ready in 2018, 76 required Photoshop, 74 wanted Illustrator, and 74 needed InDesign. A high percentage of companies claimed they needed all three!

Adobe Photoshop is ideal for editing photos. InDesign is a layout and page design software. On the other hand, Figma is known for its excellent tool in UX Design. This application also allows users to import images and SVG code into the system effortlessly.

Graphic Designer: What Skills and Habits Should You Acquire?

B. Habits

1. Studying.

If you are aiming to land a higher-paying job, new toolsets are necessary to let potential clients know that you have a wide range of skills needed to deliver an excellent output that matches your pay. From watching a few videos on Youtube to enrolling under an experienced designer for coaching tips and additional graphic design skills, there are many places where you can learn.

Studying allows you to be adaptable to increasing client demands. Cultivating the aptitude to foresee a gap and championing a new skill or data that will enable you to solve a potential problem will help you feel confident when new challenges arise.

2. Exploring Different Styles

Discovering and utilizing a variety of design styles can give you the chance to show the world your flexibility and what makes you distinct. In due course, the public will start to notice your work. Getting inspiration from others is a smart technique to kickstart your creativity. You have to be enthusiastic and prepared to discover all potential designs. Every source of style influence matters.

3. Empathizing with Clients

To create a plan that resonates with the desires and goals of a client, a designer must be in tune with his client’s sentiments. One must be able to hear and see things from the perspective of the person they are working for. The job is all about collaboration and working hand in hand with the employer to achieve the best possible output.

Empathy keeps the line of communication open and allows both parties to overcome objections and resolve conflicts effectively. Moreover, this will provide more insight on how to solve the problem creatively. Walking in the client’s shoes will pave the way for designs that are strategically created to suit the audience one is targeting, rather than forcing a personal taste or preference. 

4. Always Practicing

Practice is a form of mental and motor exercise. For creatives, it means allotting a particular time spot to contemplate and experiment. This task should be separate from the time spent working on paid projects during the week. An artist should have enough space to grow and try a style he has not done yet. This habit will allow you to unleash your ingenuity and advance your graphic designing skills. As they say, “practice makes perfect.” True enough, constant repetition means you make it a priority to get better and become an expert in design.

5. Self-Discipline

Especially if you are working remotely from home, the freedom can be very tempting to stay in bed till noon. When nobody is around to track your daily accomplishments, it takes incredible determination and self-discipline to get things done according to schedule. Tardiness can be a huge stumbling block even for the most promising employees. Keeping an optimistic and proactive soul is vital to maintaining a sense of accountability. It allows you to gain trust from the people you are working for. Self-discipline creates an excellent impression and positions you to greater heights.

6. Goal Setting

When you choose to work randomly, it is easy to lose track of your time, energy, and resources. Setting goals provides a structure to identify the type and quantity of work needed within a said time frame. It builds a credible portfolio since recognizing your targets prevents you from going beyond the deadline and facing hefty fines and an unhappy client.

If you manage to stay on track, you will definitely prosper. Goals provide much-needed motivation, increase your focus, give a sense of direction and keep you accountable. Without goals, it would be almost impossible to measure growth and sustain your drive in your career.

7. Organizational Skills

Influential designers have devised an established workflow to guarantee quality, continuity, and productivity. It can be as fundamental as organizing a client brief folder or a contract outline that presents what goals need to be delivered at a specific point. It can be exasperating to become a clueless stranger in your own working area.

Having a designated space for each particular file promotes efficiency and makes the job more pleasurable. When working with multiple projects at the same time, you can search for software that can assist you in improving your organizational skills.

Graphic Designer: What Skills and Habits Should You Acquire?

Conclusion,

As you continue to hone your style and multiply your following, you’ll learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. Never stop discovering what you are capable of doing.  Your passion will allow you to grow professionally with your own distinct mark in the industry. Eventually, you will learn to identify what projects are a perfect match for you and what offers you may want to let go of.

Boundless monetary and personal gains await you as you spend time developing your craft. After establishing your career, you can begin making priceless contributions to the community by assisting contemporary designers and building a decent and trustworthy affiliation with businesses. Ultimately, your success lies in your hands. Own your personal style and make it exclusively yours.

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