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Graphic Designer Beginners: Important Skills to Learn

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

The world of graphic design includes a wide range of skills, and opportunities, for those interested in the power and persuasion of visual communication.

For those just starting out as designers, there are a number of basic skills that go beyond knowing the pros and cons of Adobe Creative Suite. Just as you complement your portfolio with all kinds of projects, you must compliment your skills with "soft skills" that make you an effective communicator.

"More than any difficult skill like Photoshop skills, basic communication is the most important part of a designer," said Erica Gorochow, founder of PepRally and Brooklyn director, designer and illustrator. “At the end of the day, most of the charts respond to a definite problem. Your ability to articulate this problem is often the first step in finding a visual solution. "

However, given his interest in motion design, Gorochow admits that he spent most of his day in Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects in the Adobe Creative Suite mentioned above.

"In the past, I used Sketch for UI work and occasionally Cinema4D," she says. "I also kept an eye on Figma."

He also noted that writing is one of the key skills that novice graphic designers often overlook: “Whether it's email, decks, or whatever, getting familiar with writing is a huge step forward. Especially when you want to become a leadership role or run your own business or an independent company. "

She suggested looking for opportunities to write for design blogs, or post essays and get feedback on the edit. If you go down this path, it is important to be open to constant change. It is essential for everything from finding a job to updating your opportunities once you have found a job.

Know Your Mobile Platforms

In the era of smartphones and tablets, Gorochow said that understanding mobile platforms and their differences from the desktop experience sometimes means approaching the solution from unexpected angles.

"When I started, television and film were the main rectangles I designed for," he said. “But now most of us devour content all day. And most of that content, good or bad, is on the phone. "

It is important to understand the context in which someone is experiencing their work, adding: “When I think of a design for mobile platforms, I think of the dynamic design for a variety of canvas dimensions: horizontal, vertical, 1: 1, and realities that decrease attention span can change your creative mandate. "

In other words, to understand mobile platforms, you often have to work backward to understand their limits. Along with strong communication skills and the ability to clarify an idea by any means necessary, having some technical acumen is always an important part of a new graphic designer's toolbox.

"As with any skill set, you must develop your basics before being creative," said Julianna Carbonare, graphic designer and educational advisor at Discover Praxis. "When it comes to graphic design, it means technology above all else."

Without technical skills, you are essentially an illustrator or artist rather than a graphic designer. "Once you become familiar with technical skills, you can start with basic design principles like color theory, composition, and typography," Carbonare continued. "This knowledge, which is put into practice with basic technical skills, is the first starting point for a smooth transition to developing a strong graphic design skill."

Another aspect that young people or novices often overlook is the knowledge base behind the different facets of design theory. "It can be really exciting and fun to start designing immediately based on intuition," said Carbonare. "But the truth is that behind every high-level design there is a high level of thinking and complex thinking for every angle, space, location, color choice, etc."

It is best to work within the rules first, especially when designing for a client. Then you can be free to break the rules later.

"I can confidently say that you don't have to go to school to be a designer. That said, it will take a lot more work," said Carbonare. "Basically, you must create your own program, compile your own sources, and the discipline must follow it."

Some of her favorite sources for collecting information are Udemy and YouTube; There are a good number of certified Adobe designers offering courses on Udemy: "YouTube also has a host of tutorials and hosting channels run by some of the top industry leaders like Chris Do."

Sharing your work and interacting with the design communities on Instagram, Behance, and Dribbble can also be "extremely useful" for your professional goals.

Any Graphic Designer Must Learn to Draw

"You don't have to be an amazing artist to do graphic design, but a solid foundation of drawing or sketch skills will go a long way," said Carbonare. “Before most designers touch their digital tools, they first turn to paper. It is the most natural and efficient way of brainstorming or even brainstorming. You don't have that freedom or that fluidity on your tablet or computer. "

After messing around with these sketchy (and messy) ideas, you may have a better idea of ​​what you really want to do in digital media. "If you want to start a career as a graphic designer, either on your own or within an agency, you must be able to communicate your ideas and visions," added Carbonare.

Customers will get an idea of ​​what they want, and it's a big part of the graphic designer to sit down with them and figure out how to bring their head image to paper.

"This is done effectively and efficiently with developed and curious communication skills," said Carbonare. On the other hand, you should also be able to communicate your own ideas in a very human way. Whether introducing yourself to a customer or an entire team, sales (communication) skills are the main force for everyone to know your concept. "

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