1. Watch trends and influencers in the graphic design field
Marketers know, of course, that there’s a lot to learn from influencers. After all, 49% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know when choosing a product or service. In the digital age, that includes those known as influencers.
You can connect with these influencers via Twitter or Instagram. You’ll be surprised at who responds to your questions. Each positive contact can help you learn even more about design and current trends. By following the interactions and actively engaging, you will naturally become part of the design community that can help you grow.
What’s the next step?
Create a targeted list of influential graphic designers on Twitter whose daily posts you want to follow without having to awkwardly filter tweets from the many tweets of friends, colleagues and news sources. HubSpot’s social monitoring tool allows you to follow the accounts on your list, especially discussions on topics that are relevant to you.
Your list should include a good mix of influencers – well-known designers in the industry, people who inspire you as well as designers whose work you don’t like. This last point may seem counterintuitive, but if you also follow the work of these designers, you can find out why you don’t like it. This is a fundamental part of gaining a good understanding of visual communication.
The 365 Awesome Designers site features the work of one designer every day. This way, you can easily find the graphic designers you want to follow.
2. Collect inspiring designs
If you want to learn the craft of graphic design, you should first compile a catalog of works and designs that you think have succeeded. To do this, you can easily bookmark images in your web browser, create a board on Pinterest, or save images to a folder on your computer.
As with the list of influencers, with the help of such an inspiration catalog, you can identify both past and current design trends and recognize certain patterns in the work of other designers.
It can also help you learn about your personal style preferences and interests. For example, if you find that you are particularly interested in a certain type of typography, logo design, or corporate design, you can search for targeted web design resources that explain how to apply and create them.
Their catalog can also serve as a valuable source of inspiration for future projects of your own. The concept that all creative work builds on existing work is also echoed by Austin Kleon in his TEDx talk. The work in your catalog can serve as a reference and is an excellent starting point for your own communication design projects.
Check out websites with portfolios of leading graphic designers, like Dribbble and Behance. These platforms showcase a variety of high-quality work from leading designers across the spectrum, from UX and web designers to graphic designers, communication designers, and typographers. Designers on these sites also often provide insight into their design process. From this, you can gain valuable insights for your own creations.
It may not be easy to find time to look at these websites in addition to your regular work. The “Panda” app makes it easy to fit this into your workday. The “New Tab” option is replaced with a stream of content from various sources, including Dribbble. Each time you open a new tab, you can gather new ideas and save the content and designs that catch your eye.
3. Analyze the design process of others
Realizing that every illustration, infographic, and symbol is the work of a designer who knows exactly how to combine shapes and lines can be a great help to your learning process. That’s not to say that other factors don’t play a role (meshes in Illustrator, for example, present quite a challenge). However, the design fundamentals for many designs are very simple shapes.
If you analyze the design process, you will understand what steps are necessary for a project in media design. Depending on your current skill level, you may already be able to identify which apps and tools were used or which element was created first.
However, it’s important that you explore the structure of different designs in more detail to help you hone your creative skills. In doing so, you’ll likely make the following observations:
1. You know more than you think.
2. If you discover gaps in your graphic design skills, you’ll know what techniques or concepts you need to explore more to fill them.
3. There are a number of ways to achieve a particular result.
What’s the next step?
To further accelerate the learning process of analyzing a design, you can download a free vector or PSD design resource to explore each layer to find out how the designer built the object. You can find some of these files here.
Open the file you want in Photoshop, bring up the Layers window (you can find instructions on how to do this here), and expand some of the folders to see the layers they contain.
By changing only the visibility of the layers, you can see how the designer layered each shape. It also lets you find out how Photoshop effects have been applied, such as drop shadows and brush strokes.
The way to become a graphic designer