What are some good ways to learn how to be a designer?

Whether you’re starting out as a graphic designer, or you’ve been at it for a few years, like me, you’re always looking for ways to improve your craft and improve your design.

This seems like kind of a feudal thing, because its a process that never stops. But, it’s a good practice for anybody — especially as the design field changes and evolves. So where do you start to teach yourself how to become a better graphic designer?

One of my favorite methods is one I’ve been using since the beginning of the internet. I’ll take a design I like and attempt to recreate it.

When I was walking uphill both ways to school, it was more difficult to find inspiration websites — they weren’t as prevalent as they are now. These days, you can trip into a website that showcases a lot of logo or website designs. 

If you see something there that you’ve like, there’s no harm or shame in challenging yourself to recreate it. Just make sure it’s not something you’re promoting on social media! 

Dissecting what the designer did, what their tricks were, or seeing the details that went into it is a great way to learn new things. You can learn a lot by seeing how others approach their work and execute it. 

I know a lot of us get attached to a design process in our own way, or tackling things in a certain manner. It’s easy to fall into a groove or that rut. Taking a step back and and trying something from a different approach or perspective can be a great way to learn a few skills or get you to do your work in a different way.

Have a friend or colleague who designs? Challenge each other!

It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be in depth. It could be something simple, like a logo or a poster or a lettering piece. 

You can agree on some parameters for this, but make it something light, fun, and easy to pass back and forth. As an added bonus, share across social media, if that’s something that you’re looking to build.

Similarly, you could also collaborate on a single piece. I’ve seen some great collaborations where people pass a project back and forth. If your design tools allow for it, you can work together at the same time to see where it goes. You might push each other to try something different or get out of your comfort zone. 

It’s a fun, social way to up your game and practice trying something different.

Last, there’s always online classes.

I know there’s a lot of notable ones out there that I won’t name. Beyond those, it’s worth noting a lot of smaller classes are popping up as veteran designers start getting into the world of online classes. 

These classes can be great for any budget and it’s pretty likely you’ll find a teacher who resonates with how you learn. What’s also great, is you may gain insight into where they plan on taking their skills or careers. To borrow the Wayne Gretzky quote, you’re not skating to where the puck is, but you’re skating to where it’s going.

No matter what though, finding ways to improve should be something that you always keep on your list of things to do. It doesn’t have to be something that you take a Friday off to do, but something that you work on on a regular basis to continually improve what you’re doing as a graphic designer.

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