So you’re fresh out of design school and looking for a professional job to show off your skills? Or have you been tinkering with Photoshop and Corel Draw long enough to realize you can make a career out of designing things? If you’re a beginner in the big bad world of graphic design, there will be some mistakes that you’re bound to make (or are perhaps making at this very moment) that may leave you wondering why your career hasn’t kickstarted already. And so we’re here to help you avoid some very common mistakes and improve your skills as a designer.
1. Abusing Photoshop Tools and Trying Too Many Things At Once: So you’ve learnt all the nitty-gritties of Photoshop and can rattle off the shortcut keys with ease. But guess what: You’re absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge, and when you sit down to design a flyer or logo you experiment with all the tools … and the result looks like a child’s collage.
Quick Fix: Set challenges for yourself. Make a list of the tools you use the most and try to design something without using any of them. Restrict yourself to using a fixed number of layers or a black and white color palette. Not only will that make you creative, but it will save you the trouble of trying everything at once to see what works best.
2. Making Poor Fonts and Typography Choices: You’ve discovered the world of free fonts and you’ve downloaded just too many brushes and the birthday card you’re supposed to design looks way too comical. Or the logo of a company just doesn’t look professional enough. Chances are you’ve gone on a font overload.
Quick Fix: Typography is a whole new field and if you’re not good at it, take a separate course to understand the fundamentals of how it works. Gaining some knowledge of calligraphy also might help. Once again, try to design with standard fonts and, if you’re using something fancy, limit yourself to one fancy font. Follow the aesthetics of simplicity and minimalism when it comes to fonts and you should be fine.
3. Relying More on Software Than on Your Originality: You have the latest versions of all the software installed in your computer and — sometimes even for a simple project — you usually end up using more than three programs to design something. And then you’re out of creative juices.
Quick Fix: Realize that design software is a means to an end, and you’re the designer. Rely more on your own originality than on snazzy photo-editing features. As a graphic designer, don’t forget to cultivate your skills in drawing, sketching and painting and sometimes take a break from digital art to practice doodling. Remember, it is your creativity (and not Photoshop) that makes the design.
4. Not Reading the Brief Carefully Enough: If you’re a newbie, you may be overconfident and care more about showing off than understanding your client’s needs. So even if you make something that is truly brilliant, it may be rejected because it wasn’t what the client wanted.
Quick Fix: Read the brief as many times it takes you to understand exactly what your client needs. Call him/her up and clarify if you need to. Graphic design is a part of the utilitarian arts and whatever you create has a target audience. So, keeping that in mind, underline the keywords and make a plan before you begin designing.
And whatever you do, don’t set unrealistic goals. Be grateful at how far you’ve come and be excited that there’s so much more to learn and create!