Advice for Aspiring Designers from Create + Conquer

Advice for Aspiring Designers

We believe that it is our duty to pass along advice for aspiring designers. A thoughtful conversation, critique of their work and various tips can go a long way towards steering them in the right direction.

Learn Interactive Design

Today’s job market requires people to have multiple disciplines in design, from identity to print and web. It seems many students are leaving college without the proper knowledge in web design. Many students have a solid foundation in print and identity design, but more often than not, they lack the interactive knowledge. A lot of what I hear from students is that there are only a handful of interactive courses to choose from. Some schools have yet to make the full leap into interactive courses that are taught by the right people. At the end of the day, that hurts the students education and will limit their opportunities for work. Take a look at any job search site to see how few and far between the jobs are for logo designers and print designers.

Enroll in Multiple Internships

The best way to learn design is through practice and guidance in a real work environment. Taking one internship will give you a good taste of your future career, but two or three internships, in different types of companies, will give you a better perspective on what environment and line of work is best for you. For instance, taking one internship in a small web design studio and then following it up with an ad agency internship are two vastly different experiences. The culture is different, the process is different and the thinking is different. Prove yourself to your supervisors and branch out to different employees in different departments, to better understand their roles and build your network of contacts. No matter how mundane the work can be at times, stay positive and be patient. Chances are that there will be some projects for you to make your mark. Connect with employees that you meet on social networks, like LinkedIn, and hopefully you will make a good enough impression that they’ll remember your name in a year or two. Beefing up your resume with two or three internships shows initiative and dedication to learning the craft.

Prime Your Portfolio

The internships and resume will only get you so far. Your portfolio will speak volumes about your design sensibilities, attention to detail and judgement. Showing signs of quality work and a good “eye for design” are traits that managers and directors can build upon. They can mold you if there is a solid creative foundation to build off of. Otherwise, they have to start from scratch. Take the time to thoroughly critique your work and make sure that all the details are refined. Ask professors, internship supervisors and industry works to critique your portfolio. You might be surprised by what you hear. Take the critiques in stride and use them to elevate your work. Get 12 to 15 of your best pieces and present them in a thoughtful and creative manner. Show off your range, from logo designs to marketing brochures and websites. But most importantly, love your work. If you don’t love it, then you’re settling, and that is a poor showing on your part and could leave a bad impression.

Stay Current

Have you read any industry blogs or mags lately? You should, because they will give you creative ideas, design tips and keep you current with the latest trends in the industry. Much like fashion design, graphic design is always changing from movement to movement and trend to trend. Best of all, you will learn to incorporate elements into your own work through inspiration. Any time you love a design, save it – rip it out of the magazine or bookmark it on your computer. Sites like Dribbble, Comm Arts and AWWWards are phenomenal sources of inspiration and industry-leading work.

Be Patient

Getting into the graphic design industry is easier said than done. Everyone takes a different path to get there and it takes time to learn how to properly design. Be patient, stay positive and keep working your butt off to better your creative abilities. Don’t give up on yourself, no matter how many times you fail on a design. If you truly believe in yourself and believe that you were born to design, then you will make it. The right attitude and fortitude will help pave your way to a successful career in the industry.


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