Hello, fellow designer!
So you’ve recently graduated or newly started your career and are looking to make your mark in the design world. While you will learn that not everything is black and white when it comes to design, there are a few truths I wish I had known when starting out. To save you a few heartaches (and maybe even a few tears) here are 3 useful tips for a new(ish) graphic designer.
1. Don’t marry an idea
I remember wanting to cry in college when my graphic design professor offered me this piece of advice. I had just expressed to him that a poster concept I had spent the previous few weeks of my life designing was not working. I had gone back and spent more and more time reworking the concept, and what I didn’t realize is that I was putting in that work for the wrong reason. I didn’t believe in the idea anymore, but I couldn’t stomach the thought of throwing said idea to the side after putting the countless hours into it that I already had. There is a balance between giving up too soon, and holding on past the point of knowing better (am I talking about graphic design or dating?) Don’t marry an idea.
Side note: The ideas that you left behind were not wasted time. They were each a stepping stone that led you to the (fire emoji) idea that knocked it out of the park.
2. Avoid design that is “too medium”
This one is simple and goes hand-in-hand with the quote I’m sure was on a poster somewhere in your typography classroom in college stating that “If everything is bold, nothing is bold.” Both pieces of advice are referring to the idea of contrast and that the human eye is drawn to differences. The best graphic designers know how to use contrast to their advantage to manipulate the viewer’s eye. Establish your hierarchy of information, then use contrast (of texture/color/line weight/typeface weight/etc!!) to guide the viewer’s eye so that the first thing they see is what you wanted them to see. Think of it as artistic mind control.
3. Keep It Simple
Don’t discredit simple design—it is effective, concise, and often the most difficult to land on. Some rules of thumb:
- A billboard should only have 8 words, maximum
- More than 2 typefaces on 1 piece should be illegal
- Pick a color palette and stick to it
- White space is your friend