Here's some industry advice from top designers on how to get the best out of your creative process as a designer. Whether you're working for a design agency or as a freelance designer, here are our top ten design tips to help you boost your creative potential, build an outstanding creative portfolio and make your ideas and artwork shine in your new design job.
If you need more tips for designers, check out our career advice section for CV writing tips or first impression interview tips. If you've just received your design diploma, we have some tips for design graduates under 'How do I get a job in design?' to start up your design career.
Lateral thinking and brainstorms may be the starting point for any piece of design, but it's important to keep them functional and concise. It is common for a session of bouncing ideas around to take too long and get in the way of the actual production. Keep the ideas fresh by having more than one brainstorming session over the course of the design process, rather than one long one at the beginning.
It is re-iterated time and again, so take note! Networking is vital in this industry so logging on to designer chat-rooms is great at boosting morale and getting some feedback on your work. Creative friends are vital to bounce ideas off and sharing inspiration.
Keep up to date
Keep a tab on the best design websites and magazines. Designers work in an evolving industry and, like it or not, you have to be up to date with contemporary trends in the market. For example, how many illustrations exist now with the organic, flowery shaped motifs? The answer is, too many not to recognise its value as a current trend in digital illustration.
Balance and simplicity are key to producing eye-catching and bold visuals. Design is not looking at something and asking what I can add - Design is looking at something and realising there is nothing else you can take away. If a design is incorporating many different visual layers and information, a limited colour palette is advised to keep the work coherent and pleasing to the eye.
Use as many different layers as possible in Photoshop. Do not merge down unless it is absolutely unavoidable. This will keep your work much more "live" and editable. There is nothing worse than wanting to change an element that was edited too far back in your history to undo.
Acquire as much RAM on your computer as possible. This may sound obvious but you really can never have too much of the stuff. Photoshop consumes as much RAM as you have so even the smallest project can become a giant file that will slow down your computer and cause you unwanted stress levels!
Keep yourself in one piece
A fresh pair of eyes at the end of the process is essential for a designer. Having spent so much time staring at the screen you need to step away from the screen, take a walk, and forget the project completely. When you return, your ability to tweak and fine-tune the piece of work will be much more refreshing. Also get an objective pair of eyes (ideally a non designer) to take a look and get an honest opinion.
Know what is possible
Once the design is finished there are still ways to improve it. Leave yourself time to investigate Print techniques and any bespoke techniques your printer can do for you. Metallic inks, spot varnish, embossing, de-bossing, foil blocking, matt-laminating or die-cutting can all be used to wow the client and give your work a final cherry on top.
Don't forget to think inside the box as well. It's easy to get carried away with your own work, but a good designer can stick to the brief and please the clients whilst still enjoying their own creative freedom. Sticking rigidly to the brief is not confining you, but a discipline that can anchor you to completing the job on time and to the client's satisfaction.
Stick to your knitting
Know your strengths and do the briefs that suit your style. If you love illustrating, why pretend to be a Graphic Artworker? Experience has shown that wearing too many caps at once only ends you up in a stressful place that is leading you away from what you actually enjoy doing.