What Qualities And Skills Should Graphic Designers Have?
I was talking with a running buddy whose daughter is considering a career as a graphic designer, but she also has a strong Manga interest. My friend began asking me what skills did I think she would need to develop. Her daughter is a determined and resilient young lady as well as talented. The quality of persistence came up a lot as we attempted to run and talk. The conversation did get me to thinking. So, I came up with a list of traits I see in many of the designers I admire.
Designers are inspired and Inspiring
Designers have a vision that sees something extraordinary in the everyday and mundane. Creative people catch a glimpse of what is ignored by most of the society and turn it into something magnificent. Not only do creatives think differently, we act differently. It is not unusual for an artist to scavenge garage sales and junk yards for inspiration. Street art and graffiti are real eye candy. What my cell phone may lack in “selfies” it makes up for with abstract photos of inanimate objects, rural scenery, and potential texture layouts.
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”.
Artists are explorers. Learning is fascinating. I enjoy trying different design techniques, watching videos on design and documentaries. Open source software also interests me as well as the Linux operating system. This requires constant learning. Most designers are, to some degree, art historians as well. Looking back on the works of the great masters such as Botticelli or Picasso. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Frida Kahlo are two of my favorites. The point is, graphic artists never entertain a learning plateau in their career. By default, we know there is always more to learn and we do it by habit.
Open to criticism
Good graphic designers realize it’s not about them. At the end of the day, a designers success depends on how well we have assisted the client in getting their message across. As a professional designer, I have to make sure I do my best to capture the client’s vision. I have to be sure to provide solutions to problems. If a design does not work I’ve missed the mark. Without open criticism, it would be difficult to grow. Advancement would be stagnated. We have to value the opinions of others and take everyone’s opinion into consideration. This article from The Muse list some benefits of getting constructive feedback.
Great Designers Have People Skills
If you interact with professionals in your business you must respect and communicate with people, all people. People skills are a must. A graphic designer is a team player and must be open to collaboration. Sometimes my point of contact does not have the final say in approving a brief. I must be open and willing to work with other members of the team. This sometimes means playing “phone tag” or answering the same question for different people, but the more flexible I am the more I succeed in delivering the desired outcome.
Designers Often See Things Differently
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
Good graphic designers have a unique perspective. The average consumer may shop the aisles of a store, calming the kids and trying to get home in time to catch their “show”. A designer will probably stroll the isles obsessing over why the manufacturer chose that particular typeface for spaghetti sauce.
Artist Push Boundaries
Almost all fields have a list of rules. Whether it’s office work, sports or games, almost everything comes with a set of rules. To be a great designer takes constant pushing and trying. A lot of “do overs” and failures. Many of the designs I have created have been failures, but they were also good learning experiences. It is this process that helps one learn to push the envelope. Sometimes it’s good to shake things up. Although it’s okay to sometimes break the rules, you have to know the rules first. This knowledge takes time and patience to accumulate. It’s a process. The gift is in the journey. Just as there is no end to the imagination there is no end to the journey.
Designers Are Relentless
Somewhere around the world, while everyone is asleep, there is an artist up at 3:00 in the morning, not knowing, it’s 3:00 in the morning. I maintain a fairly regular schedule, however, I do find myself working a few late nights. I once read that if you can’t sleep, the worse thing you can do is try to force yourself to sleep. The solution is to get up and do something. Often, I find, it is an idea in the back of my mind waiting to get out. So I get up. Furthermore, we want to please the customer. If an idea comes to mind, it must come all the way out into fruition. Also catering to a client’s hectic schedule plays a part as well as revisions and other minor tweaks.
Creative People Love challenges
Good graphic designers are problem solvers and we delight in helping our clients solve theirs. Reviewing a firm’s design requirements, objectives, cooperate colors, environment, culture and meshing all that together in a successive presentation with many different usability options are what designers live for. We love to find the obvious, often overlooked, solution.
Graphic Designers Are Passionate
Graphic designers are passionate about what we do, but this can be said about most everyone that loves what they do. The only thing that may set designers apart is that we never stop. Just as a cook can’t separate themselves when tasting someone else’s food. A graphic artist is always seeing, it’s almost impossible not to. If our eyes are opened, our hands are moving. Designing is everything. We scribble on napkins, rearrange the condiments at restaurants, improve the coffee cup from the local shop. Designers have a passion for taking the world they see and their observations and recycling them for the world to see. To that extent, we never stop hustling and we never stop grinding.