Are you looking to become a web designer one day?
It’s a fun and lucrative career. There’s always a demand for people with a keen eye for design online.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a graphics designer in 2020 was $53,380. This suggests that the average wage will continue to increase as more firms shift to digitalization.
However, you’ll be competing with many people online. There are as many other graphic designers online as there are potential clients. If you want more people to trust your craft, you must stand out as a graphics designer.
This means constantly improving yourself. Hey, even one percent a day is still an improvement on your end.
Here are essential tips to keep your graphic designing skills on point.
Table of Contents
- Challenge Yourself With Online Challenges
- Take Online Courses To Improve Your Skills
- Avoid Becoming A Jack-of-all-Trades
- Get The Right Gear
- Get The Right Software For Productivity
- Don’t Be Afraid Of Criticism
- Get Inspiration From The Pros
- Stay Professional
Challenge Yourself With Online Challenges
Okay, this may sound cliche.
When it comes to graphic designing, practice does make perfect.
Take 30-60 minutes daily to create new designs and learn more skills. Don’t be afraid to go beyond what you’re used to so that you can expand your skills further. You should do some graphics design challenges online if you’re up for it.
Are you up to it? Then there are a few online challenges to dive right into:
- 36 Days Of Type – This fun and simple challenge let you recreate the letters of the alphabet and the numbers in your style. There’s a theme to follow for each year, too!
- WTF Should I Write? – This is the challenge if you want to hone your monograms or text designing skills. The website randomly generates a phrase for you to incorporate into your next design. You get everything from inspirational quotes to downright wacky expressions, so it’s an emotional challenge!
- Dribbble Weekly Warm-Ups – The Dribbble Weekly Warm-Ups are a set of challenges that tasks you with creating designs for specific topics. You then upload your design for other writers to critique. Each week brings an exciting new challenge, so you’re constantly engaged in something new.
- Daily Logo Challenge – If logos aren’t your strong suit, then this is the challenge to hone your skills. The Daily Logo Challenge provides you with regular prompts about logo designs. It’s an excellent way to expand your abilities in this area.
Take Online Courses To Improve Your Skills
Don’t take this wrong, but there’s always room for improvement.
Why not invest in online courses?
Aside from providing you with more tricks up your sleeve, online courses also offer certificates you can add as part of your credentials online. There are loads of classes you can take online, but here’s what we recommend taking:
- The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course– Are you still new to graphics design? Then this is the perfect class to take. It focuses on theories on the subject and real-world applications of graphics design. It’s the ideal foundation for any newcomer. It costs $159.99, and you get 8.5 hours of on-demand video, ten downloadable resources, and an article.
- Graphics Design Masterclass – The class gives you Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign lessons. Although it’s not focused too much on the topic, this class also dabbles in graphics design theory. It costs $179.99, but you get 25.5 hours of on-demand video, a whopping 41 downloadable resources, and one article.
- Graphics Design Bootcamp – This class is a comprehensive course on everything there is to learn about graphics design. It’s intended for beginner to intermediate designers. For $149.99, you get 5.5 hours of on-demand video, 13 downloadable resources, and one comprehensive article.
- Become A Graphics Designer – This comprehensive course comes with 27 hours’ worth of video tutorials from nine esteemed professional designers. It teaches you the foundations of graphic design and lessons on mastering standard design software. There’s a free 30-day trial upon signing up for LinkedIn Learning. After that, you can subscribe for $19.99 annually or $29.99 a month billed monthly.
These courses focus more on improving your general graphic designer skills. Do you want to learn more specific skills?
Avoid Becoming A Jack-of-all-Trades
It might sound nice to hear you’re adept in more than one part of graphic design. Professionally speaking, though, a Jack-of-all-trades isn’t always a good thing.
You must establish your specialty early when it comes to graphic design.
Say a business owner is looking for a person to design a logo for his company. A person specializing in logo design has a higher chance of landing the job than a graphics designer, with no exception.
Focus on a few areas first. In graphics design, some of the most common areas are:
- Logo Design – Focused on creating logos for all types of businesses.
- Web Design – More on designing the aesthetic and functional aspects of a website. It requires coding knowledge, but the market is more significant in web design.
- Product Packaging Design – A field that’s focused on designing packaging for the items that a company offers.
- Advertising And Marketing – This can involve designing print materials such as brochures, posters, newsletters, and more.
- Motion Graphics And Animation – A bit more complex. It involves creating vibrant designs that can be used for advertising purposes.
What if you’ve learned all you can see in one area?
Then that’s the time to add another specialty to your arsenal!
Get The Right Gear
Now, let’s get a bit technical.
Aside from your skills, you also need the right tools. What most graphics designers won’t tell you is that you’ll need to have the cash to become capable of producing great content.
What does a graphics designer need, anyway?
- Desktop/Laptop – This will be your primary source of work. Desktops give better power and processing speed. Laptops are the better choice if you’re always on the go.
When choosing a desktop or laptop for graphics design, ensure it has a good GPU, CPU, and RAM. These are essential factors to consider. A computer with high specs can help you multi-task. It can also let you work on 3D modeling and other heavy-duty graphics design.
Before we show our recommendations, let’s talk about the essential specs for a person working as a graphics designer.
It stands for Random Access Memory. Every app you use will require RAM for working data. For instance, Adobe Photoshop requires 8GB of RAM, but you’ll need some allowance for a smoother performance. Ideally, you’d want 32GB of RAM.
It stands for Core Processing Unit. This refers to the processing power of your computer. You’d want a CPU with at least eight cores and a high clock speed measured in gigahertz of Hz.
It stands for Graphics Processors. This helps your computer translate code into the graphics you see on your screen. It’s an essential PC piece, especially if you want to dive into 3D modeling or animation.
As a graphics designer, you will need a lot of space to store your files. You can choose between a solid-state drive (SSD) or a hard-disk drive (HDD).
SSDs are better as they’re faster and better performing. However, HDDs are much cheaper and have a longer lifespan. As a designer, you should have at least 700GB of space for your files.
Recommendations for Desktop: iMac (2021), Mac Studio, HP Pavilion 590, Alienware Aurora R10.
Recommendations for Laptop: Macbook Pro (2021), Dell XPS 17, Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, Acer ConceptD 7.
Although laptops are very convenient because of their portability, having a desktop is better for graphic designers for a few reasons.
For one, you can easily swap parts in a desktop computer in case it gets broken or if you want to get an upgrade. Another reason is that desktops are generally more powerful, and you get more value for your money.
That said, most designers go for Macs instead of Windows PCs. Aside from being easier to use, Macs are less prone to compatibility issues.
The display you use matters a lot regarding graphic design.
Do you see yourself creating great designs if you’re working on a pixelated display? What about one with inaccurate colors?
Let’s talk about size first. This isn’t as important as other specs, but ideally, you’d want a lot of room for your design software. Graphics designers recommend a size of 15-inch and above.
The most important aspect of a graphics design monitor is color accuracy. You should look for a monitor covering 99% of the Adobe RGB color area. This allows you to see all colors as accurately as possible.
Next, you want to look at the panel technology used in the monitor. Ideally, you’d wish for an in-plane switching (IPS) panel. While more expensive, IPS panels process colors faster and more accurately.
Last but not least, the resolution. The higher the resolution, the sharper the images will be on your screen. The best you can get is Ultra-High Definition (UHD) monitors, which stand at 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.
Recommendations: Samsung UE590D, Apple Pro Display XDR, LG 27UL850, Dell UltraSharp U2720Q, BenQ PD3200U, ASUS ProArt PA278QV
Whether you choose a laptop or a desktop, a good mouse is necessary for graphics design. The trackpad on laptops isn’t going to cut it. A good mouse should have programmable keys for shortcuts and an ergonomic design so you can work longer hours comfortably.
Recommendations: Logitech MX Master 3, Anker 2.4G Wireless Mouse, Logitech MX Anywhere 2S, Microsoft Classic Intellimouse.
When it comes to keyboards, you can choose between mechanical, ergonomic, or wireless. There are hybrids out there. We suggest going for mechanical keyboards as these are easier to work with. They also produce a clicky sound that can be therapeutic and calming.
Recommendations: Logitech Craft, Corsair K95, Apple Magic Keyboard, Das Keyboard Prime 13.
Lastly, we highly recommend investing in a drawing tablet. This will let you work on your digital graphics design as if you’re doing it on a sketchpad. It’s more comfortable compared to using a mouse to draw. You can also opt for a tablet instead and connect it to your computer.
Recommendations: Wacom Cintiq 16, Wacom One, Apple iPad Pro, Gaomon PD1560.
Get The Right Software For Productivity
By now, you’re probably well aware of graphics design tools. Just in case you’re still new, here are a few important recommendations:
Best For Professionals
- Adobe Photoshop ($31.49/month)
- Adobe Illustrator ($31.49/month)
- Adobe InDesign ($31.49/month)
- Adobe Creative Cloud Express ($9.99/month)
Alternatively, you can get the Adobe Creative Suite which costs $60.00/month but includes all of the software.
Best For Beginners
- Sketch ($9/month)
- Canva ($199.99/year for the Pro version)
- Affinity Designer ($54.00/month on PC or Mac, $21.99/month on iPad)
These aren’t all the tools you need, though. As a professional, you’ll need a few productivity tools like these:
- Toggl: Your time is money when you’re working as a freelancer. This is a time-tracking tool that’s perfect for freelancers. Additionally, Toggle helps you see which clients reward you more with your time.
- ggtimer – You’re not an egg, but this timer can still help you out significantly. It helps prevent those burnouts by giving you a timer that features short breaks between working phases.
- Evernote – Are you keeping track of multiple things at once? Evernote is a great note-taking app that lets you stay on track with reminders daily. It’s simply a to-do list that all graphic designers should have.
- LastPass – If you’re looking to focus on work as a web designer, you need this. It can be challenging to keep track of login information if you’re working on multiple websites. LastPass is a secure and quick way to store those websites’ usernames and passwords.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Criticism
Criticism doesn’t make you look bad; it can make you better.
Whether it’s from a client or other designers, handle it well. As long as the criticisms are fair and warranted, it’s something that you should use to improve your future work.
An excellent place to start would be DeviantArt. It’s the most extensive online gallery right now. Aside from potential clients, you can also find experienced people to give their views on your work.
We also suggest following the Graphics Design subreddit. It’s a place where you can freely share your work with others and ask for improvements.
Many designers give up after receiving heavy criticism for one of their projects. Always remember that even the best artists were criticized at one point in their careers. Use every criticism as a learning opportunity.
Get Inspiration From The Pros
There will be a time when you’ll be out of ideas.
In cases like these, it’s best to explore online and draw inspiration from the works of others. Take note, we said DRAW INSPIRATION, not imitate.
There are a lot of platforms for you to use.
The ultimate goal is to become a sought-after graphics designer.
Bear in mind that it takes more than skill to become one. That said, you need the right mindset and attitude if you want to keep your clients (and continue getting more!). Here are a few things to remember:
- Stick To Deadlines – Time is money for your clients as it is for you. Respect theirs by sticking to the deadlines you are given. You should finish earlier, so you still have room for edits.
- Keep In Touch – Your clients will love it if you stay in touch throughout a project. It saves both of you from wasted time! If you have any issues, suggestions, or updates regarding your work, communicate with your client ASAP.
- Don’t Take What You Can’t Handle – We know it can be tempting to take on more tasks. It can increase your earnings and your experience at the same time. But, if it comes at the expense of quality – DON’T DO IT. You’ll only be harming your career.
Hardware, software, online course, and more – there are a lot of things you need to have to become a better graphic designer.
Becoming a graphics designer is rewarding, but as with all career choices, it’s far from easy. With these essential tips, you’ll eventually learn how to become a better designer. It’s a great career choice that will be rewarding in the long run.