6 min read

The best creative advice for new designers

Andy sketching ideas during a meeting
Updated on 15 Mar 2024

Leaving higher education, whether it be College or University can be a daunting time for any new creative out there. There’s an endless array of technologies, devices and apps that you’ll need to learn to master to become an asset to any company.

Aside from talent, there are lots of different skills, traits and characteristics of a designer which are needed to be successful. We’ve listed a few to help you on your way.

Master the tools of the trade

There is no secret that as a designer you’ll need to use a whole host of tools throughout the design process, and you’ll no doubt have you favourite go-to apps.

But there are one of two apps which you must master like the palm of your hand, that’s Figma, Sketch, and Adobe Photoshop. We often use Photoshop to edit images, and a mix of Figma and Sketch to do all our UI/UX designs.
If you're more of a brand designer you'd be using apps like Adobe Illustrator alongside Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign.

If you’re not so confident using these apps, there’s a whole host of ways to practice, online courses, workshops and video tutorials makes it relatively easy to learn them.

Master the tools of the trade

Seek inspiration, don’t imitate

Learn to find inspiration from the world around you, Awwwards, SiteInspire, Web Creme, Godly, Httpsterabduzeedo are just a few of the invaluable sources we use. The trick is to learn how to dissect the inspiration you find, and take the best bits to implement them into your next project.

They say "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" but that couldn't be further from the truth in the design world, and you may want to be careful when stealing a designer work as you may find yourself hit with a hefty fine.

Got a client who is asking you to copy a competitor, you may find this helpful from Mike Brand 🤣😂

See our sources of inspiration for Branding and Web Design

Keep up to date with the latest trends

With the visual trends evolving at an ever increasing speed, it’s important to keep an eye out when new trends arise. This makes the job as a designer as exciting as it is demanding… There’s nothing better than to spend an evening looking at what’s out there via all the inspiration websites.

While keeping up with the latest trends is important, it’s just as important to be true to your own style. Your unique style and individuality is what sets you apart in a group of young designers.

At Shape we use a whole host of apps to do this, we use Dribbble and Behance to see the latest design trends, Instagram to see behind the scenes of our competitors, and Facebook and Twitter to get the latest news and views from the world of design. In this day and age we are blessed with all these tools at our disposal and it kind of makes it hard not to be in touch with the latest from the world of design.

Keep up to date with the latest trends 2022

Simple is best

Keep it simple. Design doesn't always have to be about creating the most sophisticating or complicated designs, sometimes the best solutions are the ones which are simple. As you gain more experience in the industry you'll have a keen eye for which briefs are better suited to which. It's important to remember that time is money, and it's not good if you spend all your time trying to conjure up that elaborate design, and go over budget on the design phase of the job.

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Image © Paola Moreira

Say yes to stock media resources

Stock media is an invaluable resource as a designer: the sooner you realise that, the better. Keep an eye out for royalty free stock media sources. We tend to use a variety of free stock media sources including: Unsplash, Stocksnap, Jaymatri, gratisography and a few more…

See our blog post we did on each Stock Media website

Say yes to stock

Increase your value over time

As you gain experience working on more and more projects, over time you'll no doubt gain more skills. You’ll get used to all different aspects of the design process. From research and initial ideas, to developing those ideas and then presenting your ideas. With each step, and opportunity to show your worth, when presenting your work you want to ensure it's presented in a way which shows the best version of you.

Remember you want to make yourself a valuable asset to the company you're currently employed with, this will help to get the most our of your career and help you climb the ladder in the roles you hold down.

Increase your value over time

Image © verse-co

Bonus: A few common traits of successful designers

Communication 🗣

One of the most important jobs as a designer is to communicate the client’s story through creative design, branding and ideas. It’s also important to be able to confidently communicate your ideas through presentations to win over the client when showcasing your work.

Curiosity 🧐

A common trait of anyone in the creative field is to have an interest in the world around us, designers never switch off. We’re always looking at the billboard design wondering how we would approach that brief, or the logo on a shop front, or the design of a menu before actually choosing what you’re going to order. It’s ingrained deep within our personalties, and it’s something we should all be proud of.

Passion and Drive 🤩

As a designer the job can be a love/hate relationship at times, the job involves lots of odd hours, unexpected edits, and sometimes tricky workloads. The job can sometimes become exhausting but it’s key to remember why you started off in the industry, and remember that all the extra hours are all worth it when you produce the finished product.
Learn to master your time management through tough times and everything else will take care of itself.

Openness 👋

As a designer you have to approach every scenario with an open mind, be willing to accept criticism from unexpected sources. A truly great designer can take advice from anyone and see the positive in any criticism they receive.

Ability to Take Criticism 👏

One of the toughest pills to swallow as a designer, is dealing with criticism. You could have produced one of the best piece’s of work you’ve ever done, hit every part of the brief, and done within the deadline. But it’s important to remember that ‘the client is always right’ and that sometimes you have to accept their decision is final and to move on and change the work up to suit their needs.

Patience 👨‍💻

Design work can sometimes be slow going, trying to figure out the best way to execute the brief takes time. The key is to becoming a great designer is to be patient and let an idea develop.

Reliability 💁‍♂️

A client needs a designer they can trust, one they can rely on to be there when they need something doing. The role of a quality designer is to be that person who’s able to quickly complete a given task and prioritise the important work.

Evolution ✍️

No matter what stage you are in your design career, whether you’re a junior designer or a senior designer with years of experience — it’s important to try and constantly recreate yourself to keep up with the current trends.

Hiya, I'm Mike - Web designer at Shape. My articles usually consist of design related stuff.