There are a lot of things to learn when starting out in the graphic design field. You’ll need to be skilled in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, not to mention staying up to date on the latest design principles. As a team of graphic designers, there are some tips we wish we would’ve received as beginners on our career journey. Here are just some of the things we’d like you to know if you’re just starting out in a graphic design career.

  1. Pay attention to industry influencers. Listening to and engaging with industry influencers can help you get more familiar with the online design world and discover more tips on how to get started in the graphic design business. Reading their posts can also help you become more familiar with relevant terminology, so you’re not lost when it comes to professional meetings or calls.
  2. Keep a catalog of inspirational work. If you have a passion for design, then you definitely need to start collecting work that you think is successful. This will help you identify trends, as well as start to identify your own personal design tastes. View high-quality work from top designers on profile sites like Dribble and Behance.
  3. Break down the process. All designs start with simple shapes. Understanding the process behind the design can help you understand the steps necessary to produce the work. And if you’re more experienced, you can even identify which tools were used or which aspect was created first. And if you aren’t sure, take a guess! It’s better to try than to do nothing at all.
  4. Recreate your favorite pieces. Okay, now we don’t mean rip off someone else’s work and try to pass it off as your own. What we’re talking about here is that recreating an inspiring design can help you get a better understanding of the technique used to achieve the final piece. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly like the original piece, you’ll have gone through the process of creating something new. And that is a win!
  5. Don’t underestimate negative space. Negative space, or white space, is the space in a design that is not occupied by any element. You want your design piece to include enough negative space, as well as active space. It’s all about balance. While there isn’t a hard and fast rule as to how much negative space you need in your design, including this white space will eventually become as natural as breathing.
  6. Understand how to take criticism. The last thing we want to do is be criticized by our mentors or peers, however, this is crucial to your success as a designer. Remember that constructive criticism is key to becoming a better designer. Everyone has different points of view, and criticism allows us to share those ideas with others and gives us the opportunity to incorporate those ideas into our work. In order to get used to criticism, become part of an online community where others can comment on your work.
  7. Be passionate. This shouldn’t be hard to do if you’re interested in a career in graphic design. Start a passion project that allows you to teach yourself the graphic design process and advance your design skills. Start simple by redesigning your resume or creating a logo for a friend’s business. Working on something because you can and not because you have to will help you stay motivated.

No matter which of these tips you choose to implement, just putting one foot in front of the other can help you to get started. Keep in mind that even your favorite designers were once new at this too! Design is a continual process, so be open to new ideas and willing to process constructive criticism. Who knows, one day maybe you’ll be giving tips to the newbies yourself!