Designing in the Real World

By Lauren Pill


After three and a half years as a design student in Tucson, Arizona, I escaped the sweltering heat with my diploma in hand, eager to get started as a professional graphic designer. While I learned a lot inside the classroom, here are a few valuable lessons I have discovered in the real world.

Communication and Design Go Hand in Hand

As a reserved person who often cringed when called on in class, I decided early on that behind the protective barrier of a computer screen, design would be the perfect outlet to express my voice and creativity. But, when choosing this career path, I did not realize just how much design and communication go hand in hand. It is imperative to communicate with clients throughout every step of the design process; you must ensure that you understand their vision and that you explain each step of your creative process. Design is an open dialogue between two parties rather than a one-way exercise.

Make Time For Personal Design Projects

One of my favorite aspects of graphic design is the process of creating something out of nothing. Graphic design forces you to problem-solve and innovate inspiring and original content that helps communicate a client’s message. When designing for clients, it is essential to adhere to any guidelines they might present and transform their vision into a reality, even if their ideas don’t completely align with your own.

While every project requires a skillful eye and creativity, some projects can be less inspiring to work on than others. Therefore, it is essential to take time outside of work to design for yourself and work on projects that excite you. Whether it be designing a logo for a friend’s garage band or creating a poster series inspired by your favorite TV show, it is important to keep your design gears turning and work on projects that unleash your creativity.

There is Always More to Learn

As soon as I think I have discovered all the features of a design program, I watch a tutorial online that exposes me to a whole new set of techniques that I never even knew existed before. While it can be intimidating to realize how much more there is to learn, it is critical to step outside of one’s comfort zone and experiment with new programs and techniques in order to improve. With all of the free design resources and tutorials out there, it is easier than ever to expand one’s skill set and become a better designer.

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