How to be a better designer

Mar 27, 2019

If you’re anything like me, you’re not willing to rest on your laurels iMac:
You want to constantly grow and get better as a graphic designer.

Still here? High-five. You’re my kinda lady.

Now, I know I’m not the best designer in the world
but after 20 years of perfecting pixels, I’m pretty confident that I’ve got skills.

More importantly, I know how vital it is to be intentional with my designs.

But … that wasn’t always the case.

Like many creatives out there, I’d stalk other businesses and designers on Instagram and:

  • Start stress-eating ‘cos there was NO way I would ever be as good as them.
  • Feel instantly uncool and uncreative.
  • Wonder how I’d ever be successful when everyone else was just so much better than me

So, I made the all-too-common mistake of trying to be something I definitely wasn’t.

I surfed the trends like I was competing in the Billabong Pipe Masters and swapped original for mainstream in a quest to feel “cool” and “enough” as a creative graphic designer.

At one point, my design website was full of blue imagery. Blue beaches. Blue water. Blue rocks.

But do you think I’m a blue kinda person?

But for some reason I got it in my head that being a grown-arse designer pro meant I had to ditch the pink and be serious like everyone else!

Sure, I looked sophisticated and fancy, but it was not me and it took a whole lot of energy to pretend that I was something I was not.

And instead of designing cool shit that got me attention and adoration, I spent way too much time second-guessing myself and watching what everyone else was doing.

It stunted my growth as a designer and set me back YEARS.

So if you’re peeping on your fellow designer peeps’ websites, feeling that burn of branding shame and thinking you’re not enough …

Keep reading.

I know you might not feel like the best designer right now. And I know “super confident” might feel about as far away as a mission to the moon with a Hemsworth.


You. Are. Enough.

And you can be the best designer you can be.

Here’s how.

Stop looking around and start cultivating your own style.
If you follow a bunch of designers that make you feel shitty about your own design skills, I need you to do something for me. Pull out your phone. Tap to Instagram. Go to your ‘follow’ list. And now unfollow. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

Block out the noise and create your own path for a while. No more trends, no more influences, no more comparison – just you. 

I did this early on in my career and it was such a huge relief. I felt like I was able to breathe again.

Feed your creativity.
Feeding your creativity is important; it’s just like an athlete stretching before a race. But before you wiggle down into child’s pose – hold up. I have a more designer-friendly way of feeding your creativity.

When was the last time you designed something for fun? Something for yourself? I’m guessing it’s been awhile, right? Well, this is your perfect excuse to take time out to design for fun again.

Feeling stuck? Why not design a poster with your fave quote on it, and then put it on your office wall to remind you how much joy you get from designing?

Only learn stuff you’re actually excited about.
I hear it all the time: “Oh, I need to learn SEO!” or “I need to learn how to build websites because other designers are doing it.”

But, lady, if you’re using the words, “need” or “should” it’s a sign that you don’t actually WANT to learn it.

Besides, putting yourself under pressure to be and know all the things means that you’ll never really be a pro at anything.

The good news? You don’t have to be! You don’t have to be a Jill of all trades. You should (ha) only do the stuff that lights you up and actually gets you excited.

Figure out your niche.
Okay, so you’re keeping your eyes on your own work, feeding your creativity and only learning stuff you love. Now what?

Easy! Keep doing what flows easily for you. Then ONLY focus on that.

That’s your zone of genius, baby. And that’s where you’ll build strong skills and an even stronger reputation for yourself as an in-demand pro specialist.


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