We select and review products independently. If you buy through affiliate links, we may earn commissions, which help support our testing.

How to Become a Good Graphic Designer

Matic BrozUpdated May 19, 2022

If you want to become a graphic designer, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you need to learn how to use the tools that are available to you and make sure you know what they can do.

Next, you should learn as much as you can and surround yourself with people who know more than you.

And finally, you need to keep working and not stop until you reach your goal.

How to become a good graphic designer?

1. Get a graphic design degree

The first step to becoming a good graphic designer is to learn about the industry. There are several ways to start a graphic design career. The best way is to enroll in college and study graphic design to get a formal education, which usually takes 4 years.

As a student or a graduate, you can become an intern to get into the industry and gain valuable experience at the same time. You can imagine that any experience will do you a lot of good in pursuing your graphic design career.

2. Take graphic design courses

Another cheaper option is to attend online graphic design courses. There are many websites that offer free online courses.

Many colleges and universities now offer online courses, so you don’t have to worry about commuting or finding a place to study. Courses range from one-on-one to group classes where students work together on projects. The best thing about these courses is that you can complete them in just a few weeks or months.

So you can try out unique designs without committing to an entire semester. Plus, many online schools offer free trial periods so you can find out if the course meets your needs before committing to a longer period.

3. Make a beautiful online portfolio

A graphic design portfolio is a great way to showcase your work and show potential clients what you can create. It should include all of your best designs, whether you created them for print or for the web. This includes screenshots, logos, illustrations, ads, brochures, and any other visual elements that display your talent.

Your online portfolio should also include information about you, including links to social media profiles where you post your design work and your contact information. For portfolios, many graphic designers use simple website builders like Pixpa.

Portfolio

4. Use Adobe software

Most designers use Adobe apps, primarily Adobe Photoshop (raster files) and Adobe Illustrator (vectors), to create graphics. These two apps have become the gold standard in the industry, so even professionals use them. First, you can edit images, create layouts, and design logos. But you can also add text, colors, and other elements to your designs. In other words, they’re very versatile.

Students can get a 60% discount on the Creative Cloud, which includes all Adobe apps, including Photoshop and Illustrator.

5. Use stock photos

Stock photos are images that have already been created by someone else. We distinguish between free and paid stock images, the most popular of which are royalty-free.

With their helps you don’t have to spend hours creating something from scratch. Instead, you can just buy stock photos and use them in your designs without having to worry about copyright issues. The best part is that you don’t even have to create them yourself or buy a camera. All you have to do is download the image and paste it into your design.

And if you use Adobe apps, you can do that within the Illustrator, since it offers a superb integration of Adobe Stock. If you’re on a tight budget you can get 1 million free Adobe images.

Professionals say using Adobe Stock images together with the Creative Cloud gives them the creative edge.
Get 40 Free Images

6. Develop unique signature

A signature is a personal touch that distinguishes one designer from another. It makes your work instantly recognisable but also more professional. Your signature can be a logo, a slogan, your name or last name, or simply your initials.

The best way to develop a signature is to think about who you are and what you represent. What does your brand stand for? How do you want to be remembered? Think about these questions before you create a signature and choose the right font and color scheme.

7. Find a mentor

A good mentor not only gives you advice on how to improve your craft but also serves as a sounding board when it seems like you’re stuck. Find someone who’s been in your position before and let them help you get to where they are today.

They can tell you what helped them along the way and what didn’t work. You can also seek feedback from them, as they probably know a lot more than you do. Ask them to share their knowledge of industry trends and best practises with you so you can keep up with the latest developments in the industry.

8. Master color theory

Color theory is the study of colors and how they affect each other. It involves understanding the relationship between complementary colors (colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel), analogous colors (colors that are next to each other on the color wheel), and triadic colors (colors that are three steps apart on the color wheel).

When designing, it’s helpful to know these relationships so you don’t use colors that interfere with each other. For example, red and blue make green, yellow and orange make purple, and pink and orange make brown.

Color theory symbolic

9. Seek feedback from other designers

When designing something, it’s important to get feedback from people who see the finished product. This will allow you to make changes before the project goes live. It’s best to ask colleagues, friends, and family members for their opinions. They’ll let you know whether they like the final product or not, which will allow you to improve upon it.

10. Join online design groups

Design forums allow designers from around the world to share ideas, resources, and information. By joining these online groups, you can interact with like-minded people who can help you learn new techniques and get inspired. The best way to join one of these groups is to Google them.

For example, search for “design forum” and the name of your city (e.g., “design forum New York”). Once you find a group, just click on the link to visit their website. Click here to see our list of the 50 best online forums for graphic designers.

11. Collaborate with skilled designers

Collaborating with other designers can be a great way to improve your graphic design skills. For example, you could design a logo for a friend who does not know how to design a logo. Or you could work with another designer to create a website for a client. This way, you can see how other designers approach projects and get valuable feedback.

Working together on a project is the most common form of collaboration. If you work at a design firm, this might mean collaborating on a brochure for a new product line. If you’re freelancing, it may mean designing a logo for a company.

12. Train in related fields like UIUX design and copywriting

A good graphic designer should have a good understanding of user interface design (UI), usability, and user experience (UX). This means that he or she must master the basics of visual communication, including color theory, typography, layout, and illustration. Graphic designers should also know how to create effective content for websites, apps, and other digital products.

13. Attend creative conferences

Creative conferences are events that bring together people who are passionate about creativity. They’re held once a year or every two years and feature speakers, workshops, exhibitions, and parties. Some of the most well-known creative conferences are the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the D& AD Awards, the AIGA Design Conference, TEDx, and SXSW Interactive.

14. Master necessary tools

The first step to improving your skills as a graphic designer is to master your tools of the trade. There are several graphic design software packages that you can use to create graphics, logos, illustrations, and other design elements. Some of them are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, CorelDraw, Paint Store Pro, Dreamweaver, and Fireworks. You should familiarize yourself with each graphic design program before you start designing. If you run into something you don’t understand, you can figure it out.

15. Revisit design theory

The best way to improve your graphic design skills is to study design theory. This will ensure that you stay up to date with the latest trends and developments in the field. It’ll also give you a better understanding of the fundamentals of design and allow you to apply these concepts when creating your own designs.

Get 10 or 40 high-quality stock images for free to kickstart your graphic design career.
Get 40 Free Images

16. Read books about design

Books about design can inspire you and give you insight into the world of graphic design. They can also help you learn the basics of design, such as typography, color theory, and layout. There are many types of books about design, including fiction and nonfiction. Fiction books include novels, short stories, and memoirs, while nonfiction books include how-to books, textbooks, and reference books. Look for books that will help you improve your skills and expand your knowledge.

Graphic design books

17. Specialize

When you specialize in your work, you can focus on certain types of projects and clients. This allows you to develop expertise in certain areas of graphic design without having to deal with all aspects of the process.

For example, if you specialize in logo design, you’ll have to design logos for different businesses and organizations. On the other hand, if you specialize in website design, you won’t have to worry about creating logos or designing brochures.

18. Intern with top companies

Internships are a great way to learn from professionals and gain hands-on experience. There are many types of internships, including paid, unpaid, and even voluntary. To get an internship, you should first apply to companies that interest you. Once you’ve been accepted for an internship, dress and bring copies of your resume and cover letter. Also, be sure to follow all instructions from your employer.

19. Accept challenging projects

Being a good graphic designer means you should take on challenges and tackle hard tasks. This includes designing logos, brochures, flyers, posters, ads, website designs, eBooks, apps, video games, and social media graphics. The best designers are always looking for new opportunities to improve their craft and learn new techniques. They don’t mind working long hours or even spending more money to get access to better software or equipment.

20. Pitch your ideas for a project

Many people don’t realize how easy it is to propose projects to clients. If you’re looking for freelance work, you can simply email potential clients and ask them about their needs. This way, you save yourself hours of searching for new clients. When you offer your services, you should also provide examples of your previous work. If you’ve already done such a project, include a copy of the final product.

21. Meet the project requirements

Many designers focus on the creative side of things and neglect the technical aspects of design. This means they end up producing designs that don’t meet the needs of the client. To ensure that you produce quality designs, you need to understand the project requirements before you start a design project.

Don’t start work without knowing what the purpose of the project is, who’ll use it, and what they expect from it. It’s important to know that there are different clients, each requiring different approaches to design. For example, a business might want something simple, while a nonprofit might want something bold and eye-catching.

22. Volunteer your skills

There are many ways to give your skills and talents away for free. For example, you could give back by volunteering at your local library, hospital, museum, or animal shelter. If you like working with kids, you could get involved in a daycare or preschool. You could even go out into the community and ask businesses if they have any openings. In return, you’ll gain valuable experience that could translate into a better-paying job later on.

Volunteer

23. Enter a graphic design competition

There are many ways to enter graphic design contests. Most require you to submit a portfolio of your best work. But there are also contests where you don’t have to submit any designs at all. Instead, you’ll be given a brief description of the project you’re asked to design, and you’ll be asked to develop ideas based on that. In other contests, you can choose from a list of ideas and then get feedback on your designs.

24. Work on a dream project on the side

If you want to earn extra money, you can work on projects that interest you. This way, you can focus on earning money while learning new things about yourself and the world around you.

For example, if you like to draw, you could make illustrations for magazines, books, and newspapers. If you like photography, you could sell your photos to stock agencies. You could also consider creating custom graphics for businesses or individuals who need them.

25. Work on creative projects outside of graphic design

Creative projects such as photography, painting, illustration, video editing, and music production can lead to great income streams. Many people make extra money by selling their artwork online. For example, you could sell prints of your photos or paintings on Etsy. Another option would be to create videos and sell them on YouTube. If you like creating graphics, you could also start a blog where you share your artistic talents with others.

26. Experiment with styles, colors, and grid layouts

As a graphic designer, experiment with different styles, colors, and grids to find what works best for you. Try these techniques to create designs that stand out from the crowd and make people think of your brand.

For example, you could use a bold color scheme to draw attention to a specific product or service. Or you could use a simple grid layout to give a website a clean look. Experiment with different styles until you find something that works well for you.

27. Keep a collection of things that inspire you

Collect items that inspire you as a graphic designer. These can be magazine clippings, posters, advertisements, artwork, photographs, or anything else that piques your interest. Keep these items close to you and look at them regularly. When you see something that inspires you, write about why it works well. This will help you improve your designs as you create new pieces.

28. Join forums

There are thousands of forums on the Internet where people share information about topics that interest them. In forums, you can meet like-minded people who share your interests. When you join these online communities, you have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and build relationships with them. You’ll gain valuable insights into the industry and make contacts that can lead to new employment opportunities.

29. Keep yourself abreast of the latest happenings

Keep up with the latest trends and news in the field by reading blogs, attending conferences, and keeping up with social media like Twitter and Facebook. This way, you’ll stay ahead of your competitors and maintain a competitive edge. It’s also a great way to network with people who share your interests and passions.

30. Embrace minimalism

Minimalist design is about leaving out unnecessary design elements. This style is popular with designers who want to create a clean design that doesn’t distract users from the content they want to convey. It’s important to remember that this type of design isn’t limited to logos and branding, but can apply to any part of a project, including the overall look and feel of a website.

Minimalistic image of a building

31. Get a better (faster) computer

For using computers for design, there are many types of machines. It may seem like a simple task, but it’s important to choose the right machine for you. For example, if you want to create logos, fonts, and illustrations, invest in a high-quality graphics tablet that allows you to draw on images.

That way, you won’t have to rely on software to create designs. If you want to create videos, on the other hand, you’ll need a powerful desktop or laptop computer. A fast processor and plenty of RAMs (Random Access Memory) will ensure smooth video editing.

32. Add shading

Shading adds depth to images and helps them stand out from the rest of the image. It can also improve the readability of text. When you create graphics, you should first sketch the basic shapes of the objects before adding color.

This way, you can create a realistic representation of the object. For example, if you want to shade a garment, first draw the shape of the garment and then shade the places where the fabric meets the background.

33. Proofread your work

Proofreading your paper before submitting it ensures that you don’t make any spelling or grammatical errors. It’s not uncommon for clients to request changes after they’ve already approved your project. In these cases, make sure that you proofread everything carefully before submitting it.

34. Experiment

Try out new software applications, fonts, colors, and techniques to see which ones you like best. This will give you a better idea of what works well for you when designing. And don’t forget to experiment with different mediums, whether it’s paper, canvas, or fabric. You never know where you’ll find inspiration!

35. Learn typography

Typography is one of the most important aspects of graphic design. You’ll learn about fonts and letterforms that will help you create designs that look good on all devices. You’ll learn about different types of typography, including serifs (the lines around letters), sans-serif fonts (no lines), and typefaces (bold, italic).

You’ll also learn about kerning (how far apart the letters are), leading (how wide or narrow a line should be), tracking (how close together two lines are), and other typographic terms.

36. Social media and networking

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn allow you to connect with people who share your interests and passions. Use these networks to connect with other professionals in your field and follow them to stay up-to-date on new design trends and developments in your industry. Not only will this help you network, but it’ll also give you access to valuable information about your profession.

37. Basics of online coding (HTML and CSS)

The basics of computer science include learning to program languages such as HTML and CSS. Both are used for creating web pages, and web pages are the building blocks of any website. Learning these two languages allows you to change a web page without having to switch back and forth between different software applications.

HTML code

38. Learning about marketing and conversions

Many people think they want to learn graphic design, but then they don’t really know how to go about it. There are many ways to learn graphic design. For one, you can look for courses offered by community colleges or universities.

You can also turn to free offerings like Lynda.com or Skillshare.com. You can also read books about graphic design. Finally, you can join a group on Facebook or LinkedIn where you can ask questions and get feedback from others who’ve experienced it.

FAQ

How do I become a successful graphic designer?

To become a successful graphic designer, you must have a passion for your work. You should always strive to improve yourself and learn. If you are passionate about your work, then it will show in your work.

What skills are needed to become a graphic designer?

Graphic designers must have expert knowledge of various software programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and InDesign. They must know how to manipulate images, colors, shapes, fonts, and other graphics. They should also have a thorough understanding of color theory, composition, style, and typography.

Can you teach yourself to be a graphic designer?

Yes, it can be done. There are plenty of resources available online that will help you learn everything from Photoshop basics to advanced concepts.

Is graphic design a dying field?

No. In fact, it has never been more popular than ever before. With the rise of social media and mobile devices, people are now consuming information through different channels than just print. As a result, there is a growing demand for graphic designers who can work across platforms and mediums.

What does a graphic designer get paid?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the median annual salary for graphic designers was $53,380 in 2020. Accordingly, graphic designers earn an average hourly wage of $25.66. The top 10% earn more than $93,440 per year, while the bottom 10% earn $31,720 per year.

Where are graphic designers most needed?

Graphic designers work in advertising agencies, marketing firms, publishing companies, corporate communications departments, government offices, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, software development houses, websites, newspapers, magazines, book publishers, record labels, fashion houses, architectural firms, construction companies, and other places that need creative solutions. They may also freelance their services.

Is a graphic designer a good job?

Yes! There are several reasons why being a graphic designer is a great career choice. First, you get to work with some of the most creative people in the world. Second, you can make your own hours and set your own schedule. Third, you have complete control over what you do every day. Fourth, there are endless opportunities to learn new things and grow. Fifth, it pays very well. And last, there are no limits to how much fun you can have while making a living doing something you love.

Is graphic design hard?

No! If you have basic knowledge of Photoshop or Illustrator, then you can learn graphic design. You just need to know how to work with layers, shapes, text, colors, and gradients. There are plenty of tutorials online that will teach you all these basics.

How to grow as a graphic designer?

You can learn from others who have been successful at what you want to do. Ask questions about their work, read books on the subject, and watch videos of them working. Learn how they approach problems and solve them.

What to learn to become a graphic designer?

To become a graphic designer, you need to have superb skills in drawing, color theory, typography, composition, and illustration. You should know how to work with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Fireworks, and CorelDraw. To become a graphic designer, you need to have expert knowledge about the field of graphic designing.

How to become a famous graphic designer?

To become a famous graphic designer, you must first learn how to draw and paint. Then you need to have some talent and a passion for designing. You should be familiar with all kinds of tools that are needed to make your work perfect. After that, you can work on your own projects and try to get clients.

How Do I Become a Graphic Designer With No Experience?

You can become a graphic designer without experience if you’ve got passion, dedication, and perseverance. If you’re passionate about what you do, it doesn’t matter how much experience you have. If you commit to learning new things and improving yourself, you’ll keep growing as a graphic designer. And, if you’re persistent enough to keep going until you succeed, you’ll!

Summary

In this article, you learned what it takes to become a better graphic designer. The more tips you apply, the faster you’ll be able to improve your skills.

Soon you’ll have your first client. After that, the jobs will just start pouring in. But first, you have to invest in yourself and your tools.

It usually takes several months for the investment to pay off, so keep working and don’t lose hope.

Information provided on Photutorial is for educational purposes only. Your situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, nor do we recommend or advise individuals to buy or sell particular stocks or services. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Photutorial adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners.

About the author

Matic Broz profile image
MATIC BROZ

Matic Broz is a photographer, graphic designer, and stock photographer. For over ten years he's been helping photographers improve their photos and graphic designers find the best images for their designs. His work has been featured by Lifewire and PetaPixel. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and petting random dogs. Read more

LinkedIN Email Instagram
A photographer just signed up for the Photutorial's newsletter
Get 40 free images with Adobe Stock