I always knew that I wanted to enter the creative industry. After receiving a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Ryerson’s New Media program, I decided to pursue a career in graphic design. This seemed like the logical step for me, since I wanted to be ‘creative’ and make a living off of design. This simple thought was misguided and I learnt quickly that I had to learn a lot before stepping into the design world as a professional.
Initially, design seemed like a natural route after learning a lot about multimedia programs and experimenting with various types of technology. I wasn’t well versed with the design fundamentals nor the programs used by creatives, but I knew I had a conceptual mind and wanted to create graphics, layouts, logos, and websites.
All my opinions and judgments on design were based off of just assumptions and visual knowledge I soaked from videos and online publications. Even today I still find it hard to really describe design to someone who thinks it’s just about Photoshop and making websites. In this day and age, design is everything. Literally everything you see has been conceptualized and created by an individual. While others will argue and say it’s bad design, at the end of the day it’s still design.
Six years later, I can confidently say the road wasn’t an easy one at all. Ideally I figured I could learn design through tutorials and by reading books. However let me be the first to tell you, this isn’t something you master overnight. Like any skill or craft it takes countless hours and repetition to become ‘good’ at any profession.
I still vividly remember when I was totally clueless utilizing some of the Adobe programs. Sweating at my desk and googling for answers, there were a lot of moments where I lacked complete knowledge in working with design elements, setting up files for print, understanding basic design fundamentals, etc. However, with these failures in the workplace and the support of great mentors, I learnt and I actually started improving. I had to get over the embarrassing fact that I was the guy they hired to do a job but was incapable of completing certain tasks. Throughout my experience I always asked questions, my wonderful co workers helped me a lot and I continually worked away to get better at being a designer. It definitely was not an easy road but I learned a lot and I am still learning to this day.
Design comes down to two different things, being able to conceptualize and bringing those ideas to life. These are basically the fundamental principles of design. Nudged in between that are the skills, theories and rules of this digital ecosystem that you pick up throughout the course of being a designer. But at the core this is what is required to be a designer, you have to become a visual problem solver. Clients will have a brief or problem and it’s up to your team and yourself to create a solution to this issue.
I’ve learnt that you have to obviously understand theories and basic concepts of design. In today’s world User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are a big part of how companies deliver their digital product. If you pay attention to current design trends and what industry leading companies are doing, you can always be up on what’s current. With so much happening in the tech and design world, a good way to get immersed in design culture is to attend conferences and seminars. Hear what industry leading people are doing, utilizing and working on. From there, these speakers can always lead you down a path to being a smart and successful designer. Design is a product you always have to engage with and be fully committed to.
So what did I take away from the last couple years working in the design industry? Learn, research, apply yourself and repeat. Basic principles to any type of profession. Being a great designer is a lifelong commitment. I can’t really say I would go about any other way than I did, however if you do your homework you can always find a way to get the job done. If you have a passion for something follow it. Even though you won’t get it right the first time, as long as you keep at it, success will always find you. The most important thing is no matter what don’t give up!
Inspired? Learn more about Visual Design course.