Are You Still A Good Graphic Designer? How Not To Get Outdated

Are you still a good graphic designer? Most of us would answer “yes.” But even formally trained graphic designers should be critical of themselves and answer the question honestly. Chances are, you are still a “good” graphic designer; so perhaps a more pertinent question would be: Are you a good contemporary graphic designer? You might be great at design, but if the last time you learned about graphic design trends was during cram week in 1995, you’re behind the times – and missing opportunities to be a more effective designer. The following offers tips for how not to get outdated as a graphic designer.

1. Take a class

Sign up for a night class on design at your local community college to see what they’re teaching now, that they didn’t teach when you were in school. You don’t have to take refreshers on the basics; instead, look for classes that cover specific techniques, styles, and software that you can incorporate into your designs and workflow.

2. Follow tutorials

Follow a few graphic design tutorial websites and go through tutorials that cover techniques you haven’t yet mastered. Don’t just watch them; actively follow them to ensure you know how to do it again – and customize what you’ve learned for your own designs.

3. Be inspired by your environment

I’m not talking about taking a walk in the woods. When you’re driving, at the mall or browsing a magazine, take time to truly examine the graphic design before your eyes. Notice what new strategies designers are using and what traditional techniques they tend to maintain. Stack it all up against your work to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

4. View colleagues’ work

Follow portfolio websites and ask you fellow online graphic designers to share their work with you. Examine their designs to identify trends you haven’t followed, then determine how you could have done the designs even better.

5. Enter contests

Your time is probably worth far more than that $99 logo design contest in which you don’t even know if you’ll win and get paid, but you can use that contest not for compensation but to stack your designs up against other designers working from the exact same creative brief. Doing so will help you identify new trends you might want to incorporate into your own work.

6. Critique your old work

Pull out some of your samples from two, five or even 10 years ago. Write a critical review that examines what was done well and what could have been done better. Then compare that to reviews of your current work to identify strengths and weaknesses. Your strengths are salable; your weaknesses should be worked on. Make sure your design skills have evolved with society and culture.

7. Take risks

It can be easy and comfortable to settle in a routine type of layout, font and color selection for your clients. They love it, and they pay for it, right? But to remain on the cutting edge of graphic design, you have to take risks; even if it means just creating a secondary comp and standing behind it to see if your clients will buy in. Risk lends itself to innovation and profit.

Featured Image: Artistic Equipment on Shutterstock

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