Graphic design is a form of art that utilizes design elements to deliver a message to audiences. It has existed for multiple millennia and has developed into what it is now. Just like any other career, profession, or art, people that decide to deeply immerse themselves in the world of graphic design must be equipped with essential skills to grow and prosper. In this article, the top three skills are the same skills used by our ancestors and the fourth one is a must in our modern era.
Graphic design requires a lot of ingenuity. Creativity is the natural ability to come up with something new from raw contextual ideas in an artistic way. Everyone is born with it but only those who hone it and apply it succeed in becoming a graphic designer. Creativity always starts in the mind and is implemented by the hand or any form a person is able to use.
It is generally defined as the innovative and expressive process of producing, developing, and conveying new or transformed ideas or concepts. When working with a new project or given defined requirements by the client, this is always the first phase a graphic designer needs to perform. In this phase, steps involved usually include research, development, assessment, and implementation.
In the last step of ideation, implementation requires the imposing of design principles. Design principles are the foundation of any design aspects and are essential for any graphic designer. To produce a design that is visually appealing and well-organized, you must know how to integrate these principles (alignment, repetition, contrast, hierarchy, and balance) with the design components (color, form, size, lines, space, texture, emphasis, etc.).
Every design a graphic designer produces communicates something that resonates with people. Visual communication is the core of a graphic designer’s work. But, effective speaking communication (as well as listening) is key to a graphic design career as it leads you to become a successful graphic designer. Employers and premium clients are consistently on the lookout for graphic designers that can articulate and demonstrate their ideas from ideation in a comprehensible manner.
Storytelling is a way of communicating ideas and concepts through narratives that trigger emotions and deliver insights. A graphic designer is naturally a storyteller. This specific aspect of communication is a valuable asset to you and to your client or company. You are able to deliver presentations in a clear and digestible way from myriads of complex information and factors that you need to consider in your design process.
For a graphic designer to create something that communicates a certain message through storytelling, they need to work together with the client and colleagues to thoroughly understand the requirements. Working together takes into account the very good listening skills that lead to handling feedback well and being able to explain your design approach and elements with as few technicalities as possible.
Critical thinking is also part of the vital skills of becoming a graphic designer. It is an objective approach of analyzing, conceptualizing, organizing and assessing information collected from or created by external factors as a guide to decision making. Especially in solving a problem related to design and strategizing the overall design approach or concept.
In graphic design, the right design that meets the requirements and expectations of the client solves the client’s problem. Graphic designers are expected to become problem solvers and deliver solutions through effective designs. This variant of critical thinking actually exists in every part of the graphic design process, from start (requirements gathering) to finish (output presentation). During your journey of designing, every revision caused by client feedback must be tackled by applying the right design solution that eventually should satisfy the client’s needs.
Solving a problem is good but approaching the right solution by being strategic at all times is definitely way better. Strategy is a general plan of action decided upon to achieve a goal or desired result. Graphic designers utilize this skill because they have to consider how certain design elements work best together and how to effectively deliver a message through design while complying to design principles and standards. From research to brainstorming sessions with the client and colleagues, to evaluating designs, all these involve strategic thinking.
This is the skill that our ancestors were not able to benefit from but is readily available to us in our modern world. Nowadays, graphic designers must be adept in using computers, especially the tools used for graphic designing. It is not a requirement for a graphic designer to be good or have experience in drawing or painting in a traditional way (paper, canvas, etc.) but they are expected to be at least knowledgeable in using a computer.
Graphic designers use various tools as part of their day-to-day activity to develop designs. They can leverage their mobile phones to use mobile apps specifically for graphic designing and this provides convenience in terms of portability and quick on-the-go conceptualizations. Drawing pads/tablets are also becoming popular among digital artists as they provide larger screens and better features and functionalities that speed up and enhance graphic designer’s creations. For apps/software, the most widely used are the products from Adobe such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
And that’s basically it. Assess if you have the above mentioned skills and identify ways to improve them even further. Don’t forget to take your time in design and don’t pressure yourself too much. The best ideas come from calm and peaceful states of mind. In time, with consistency, practice, and being updated, you will become an expert in graphic designing.