While there’s no secret formula to becoming a top graphic designer, there are certain qualities and traits that definitely contribute to your success. Whether you’re considering a career in the creative industry or you’re a designer looking to set yourself apart from your peers, this is what you’ll need.
The ability to navigate briefs and work with different stakeholders is a critical part of the role of a designer. Whether you’re working for an agency, a startup or for yourself you need to be able to articulate the elements of each project, push back on deadlines, negotiate rates and present ideas coherently.
If you’re a freelancer you’ll likely have to build up a network of clients to ensure a steady flow of work. Reputation and self promotion can be key to securing jobs so you need to be sure you can explain articulately what is it you offer potential customers.
Design is about more than artistic flair, it’s about solving problems through your work and about critically analysing each stage of a project to ensure you’re staying true to the brief and brand guidelines and ultimately, producing work you’re happy with.
One of the most important traits a designer can have is adaptability. You can’t be too rigid when it comes to process or techniques. With new technologies constantly changing how we create collateral, designers need to be willing to try new things and incorporate new ideas. The most creative output will come from pushing the boundaries and challenging your own capabilities.
To be successful as a designer you need a certain level of resilience and determination. Feedback is an essential part of your creative development so you need to be receptive to critique and be able to bounce back from criticism. That said, you need to have the confidence in your own work that you can effectively push back on edits you feel are unnecessary.
Keep up to date with the latest developments in the industry. Are there events you could be attending to network, get advice, learn about emerging technologies or meet potential clients? As well as that you need to educate yourself on production processes beyond design. If you’re creating a marketing brochure, for example, think about how that’s printed, displayed and distributed.
The best designers ask questions and want to know why a certain campaign needs to be executed, they don’t settle for a standard brief, they look for a greater understanding of the bigger picture too. How will the messaging affect the company’s brand awareness, product recognition or audience engagement?
Good design requires imagination and innovation but it also requires high levels of discipline, organisation and consistency to ensure you’re meeting deadlines, staying within budget and delivering on campaign expectations. Even creatives need to set limits around ways of working!