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Creative Designer? Here are Tips to Get You Ahead of the Curve

    Design is nothing if not dynamic, so much so that standing still isn’t much different than backsliding. It’s fiercely competitive, too, as current job demand struggles to cover the number of creative and driven individuals looking to make a name for themselves.

    So, what can YOU do to stand out from the crowd? For starters, take in what our informative article has to say and start working towards a better, more versatile version of your professional self. 

    Build and Maintain a Killer Portfolio… or Two

    Creative Designer
    Creative Designer

    Prospective clients value practical examples and striking designs more than any academic achievements you can list. Show, don’t tell, is crucial for any design field, and your portfolio is the ticket. Other than showcasing your skills, it should also present your approach to design and ability to think creatively while adhering to design principles and client requests.

    Being a generalist is fine, but having a specialized portfolio focusing on a design niche you’re particularly good at will help you find work that’s more satisfactory and in demand. Even if you don’t have a niche in mind, it’s a good idea to create at least two versions of your portfolio. Use one for general job applications, leaving the other to showcase your specialized skills.

    Keep up with the Times

    The end of your formal education is just the beginning of a lifelong learning process. Design is a field that epitomizes this philosophy, as trends, tools, and best practices keep changing. Staying up-to-date is crucial whether you landed an in-house role and want your company’s designs to stay relevant or you’re padding your portfolio in hopes of finding a new opportunity.

    Take Inspiration

    You can’t stand out if you don’t know what others are doing. Following and taking inspiration from fellow designers is a must if you want to develop your unique vision. While you don’t want to plagiarize others for live designs, don’t hesitate to borrow elements from people you admire while training your skills. Copying is a necessary prerequisite for developing your own style, so treat it like the helpful tool it is.

    Design shouldn’t be your only guide, though. Nature is a boundless source of inspiration, as is other media like (digital) art, movies, video games, etc. Make a habit of saving images, screenshots, or clips that resonate with your design sensibilities and use them as references in your work.

    Be a Good Communicator

    Communication isn’t a substitute for competence. However, everything else being equal, it’s the soft skill that will elevate you above the competition. A good communicator can explain concepts and justify their decisions to stakeholders without the same design background. They also listen attentively to a client’s needs and minimize the back-and-forth during the iterative process since they understand better what the current job entails.

    Communication is equally, if not more important, for securing work and furthering your career. When interacting with bosses and clients, taking on the role of your team’s representative will get you noticed, and both will want to engage with you more often. These same skills will also let you ease tensions within the team and coordinate everyone’s efforts more efficiently.

    Take Protecting Your Work Seriously

    Designers are instrumental in creating marketing campaigns, websites, or interfaces the public isn’t privy to yet. Confidentiality is a given in this line of work, and strong protective measures should be too. After all, you wouldn’t want your negligence to impact clients negatively, not to mention your or your company’s reputation.

    The Adobe Creative Suite, Figma, and other design essentials all require accounts, so start by securing them with a password manager. Setting a reliable one, like NordPass, ensures a unique and complex password for each account with added anti-tampering protection through multi factor authentication.

    Back up and encrypt crucial project files and client data, preferably to cloud storage and an offline drive. Keep all your software, computer, graphics tablet, etc., updated, and install appropriate antivirus and anti-malware measures.

    You need to protect sensitive communication with clients and team members as well as files in transit, especially if you work remotely. A VPN will secure any connection, ensuring no one can access or tamper with your now-encrypted internet traffic. They easily bypass geographic restrictions, which may come in handy if you need to test how clients in different regions see specific live content. 

    Keep in mind that not all VPNs are the same. Before committing to a provider, make sure to research the market properly. One good resource would be Reddit’s VPN comparison table. Another is to check the reviews online and see customer opinions.

    Broaden Your Skill Set

    Honing your design expertise is never a waste, but branching out can pay better dividends. On the one hand, you might want to explore adjacent fields like 3D modeling if you’re interested in motion graphics or developments like VR design that are bound to become more relevant. Similarly, you’ll want to learn how to adapt to and integrate AI tools in your workflow to become more productive and resilient to the sweeping changes it brings.

    On the other hand, it’s wise to pick up skills to help your development as a businessperson. Knowing how to market yourself or present your work in a way people used to quarterly reports and numbers can appreciate will do wonders for your prospects.

    Conclusion

    A steady influx of new talent and evolving tools that promise to upend the industry mean designers need to step their game up to thrive. We hope our tips will reassure and motivate you to hone your craft and rise to the challenge.

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    Betina Jessen

    Betina Jessen

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