Utilizing graphic design skills to create your own promotional design collateral, business cards, online branding and graphics can be of great benefit to you. If you are skilled in design, you are ahead of the game with developing graphic design skills.

Looking back when I started my career as a graphic designer things were different. Mainly the difference were the tools available (or lack of) and non-access to 24/7 online learning. Rubylith, Letraset, X-Acto knives, Proportion wheels, airbrush and marker kits, Koh-I-Noor Rapidographs and many more hands on tools such as these were used to create graphics. Steady hand and attention to detail. Graphic design programs on the Mac were basic.

Fast forward and new tools made my life easier. Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, to name a few. And the antiquated Quark X-press.

Today for the professional graphic designer or novice there are vast resources available to learn and hone in on skills. There are dozens of online courses to help you gain mastery of digital tools and also to help develop the skill set of visual communications.

Learning graphic design and mastering the craft does not happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process.

Here are 6 tips to help you become a better graphic designer.

1. First of all, focus.

You must have had an interest in art or graphic design. Make it your intention to learn all you can about it; research online, take a few classes, see if you can find a good guide or even a mentor. Focus on a few types of design niches such as logo design, character Illustration, etc., to master first. With all the visual over stimulation it’s easy to loose focus.

2. Take it slowly.

Be patient; you won’t learn all you need to know about graphic design in a few days! You have to start somewhere, and as you progress and become more experienced, you will become more confident in your talents and ability. Go online and take classes. Udemy and Skillshare are a few good places to start.

3. Use the easiest tools in the beginning.

Using Canva is the easiest place to start. Many of their designs start with a template that you can customize. However you should learn the Adobe Suite of products if your aim is to be a professional graphic designer.

4. Start simple.

Don’t try to start out with complex designs, start with simple, flat objects and build on them. Sketch out your ideas and concepts on paper. Be aware of the relationships of objects, shapes, colors, images, fonts. Work towards a cohesiveness in your designs. For instance with fonts, more isn’t necessarily better. Myself as a font hoarder, I need to contain my excitement for all the possibility and select only a few.

5. Collect design inspiration.

Many graphic designers are artists deep down inside, and most are visual people who notice things others may not in everyday objects, such as a Starbucks cup or a logo on a brochure. Start a collection, adding brochures, posters, cups, anything with a design that inspires you and add it to your digital collection (Pinterest of course is a great place to collect inspiration). You never know when something you’ve collected may bring out a bit of creative thinking on those days you can’t seem to get inspired!

6. Know your audience

Graphic design is communication. It can be subtle and it can be loud. As the designer you visually craft the message. Know who your message is intend for. And know the results that you want. Practice creating designs for different audiences. From kids to senior citizens, practice design elements that would appeal to a range of audiences.

Becoming a skilled graphic designer takes time and is a constant learning process. As trends come and go having a strong design foundation, flexibility of thought, creativity and intuition will help you develop strong skills.

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