THE ANATOMY OF A GRAPHIC DESIGNER
When the Archaeoraptor fossil was unveiled at a National Geographic press conference in 1999, it was hailed as one of the most important paleontological finds in decades. It was billed as the missing link between bird-like creatures and those we’d more readily recognise as traditional dinosaurs. It was supposed to be the defining moment where the link between creatures of the air and creatures that roamed the earth was discovered and the evolutionary connection finally identified. It didn’t take long for the fossil to come under staunch scrutiny. Less than a year after it was unveiled, it was revealed to be a composite. Desperate scientists had, it emerged, carefully constructed a collection of different fossils to create a creature that would upend the paleontological world. It was a fake. Its legs were not consistent with the bird. The tail was from another animal entirely. It was a scandal that set palaeontology ablaze.
Throwing different body parts together doesn’t make a missing-link. Compositing certain aspects together doesn’t make you a graphic designer.
There is a pervading myth, nowadays, that almost anyone can be a graphic designer. All you need to do, really, is download that Adobe suite, know a little bit about margins and what colours might work well together, and you’ll be all set. Where this myth comes from is hard to pinpoint; the prevalence and danger of it is difficult to understate. Designers are a rare breed; a genre of person that is able to take all the natural creativity they may have, hone it, grow in it, and use it in ways that communicate messages, become symbolic of a brand, and look fantastic. This is not an easy task. So, what makes a good designer? Let’s go through a (non-exhaustive) breakdown of some of the aspects that makes a good designer.
LETTING CREATIVITY FLOURISH
This one is a no-brainer. Creativity is a crucial attribute for any graphic designer to possess. You will be expected to come up with visually appealing designs that effectively communicate a message or idea. A strong sense of creativity allows you to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions to design challenges. It helps you stand out from the competition and keeps your work fresh and interesting.
Creativity isn't just about coming up with new ideas, it's also about finding new and innovative ways to present those ideas. A creative graphic designer is able to take a concept and present it in a visually striking and memorable way. This is particularly important in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace, where standing out is crucial.
In addition to coming up with new ideas, creativity is also essential for problem-solving. A graphic designer may encounter a variety of challenges and roadblocks along the way, and a strong sense of creativity will allow them to troubleshoot issues and come up with creative solutions to keep the project moving forward.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL
Graphic design is all about the details. A designer must be able to spot mistakes and make corrections quickly and accurately. This includes everything from ensuring proper alignment and balance to choosing the right font and colour scheme.
It's the little things that can make a big difference in the final product, and paying close attention to the details can elevate your designs to the next level. Small mistakes, such as typos or misaligned elements, can be frustrating for the viewer and can damage the credibility of your work. Attention to detail also helps you to create cohesive and visually appealing designs. It allows you to carefully consider the placement and balance of each element, and to create a cohesive look and feel across all elements of the design.
Attention to detail is also important for meeting the needs and expectations of your clients. By paying close attention to the specific details of their requests and accurately implementing their vision, you can build trust and foster long-term working relationships.
ADAPT, IMPROVISE AND OVERCOME
In today’s world, the design industry is constantly evolving and changing at speed, and a designer who can adapt to these changes will consistently triumph over one who cannot. As new design tools and programs are developed, it is important for a designer to be able to learn and utilise them effectively. This not only allows them to keep up with industry standards, but it also gives them the opportunity to bring new skills and techniques to their work.
Adaptability is also important when it comes to working with clients and adapting to their needs and preferences. Every client is different and may have specific ideas or requests for their project. A designer needs to be able to adapt and create designs that meet the client's vision, effectively communicate their own, unique, brand message and values, and translate them into designs that set them apart from the crowd.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Graphic design isn't just about creating visually appealing designs; it's also about effectively communicating ideas and concepts to clients and team members. The ability to articulate design choices and explain the reasoning behind them is essential in creating a healthy and productive relationship with your client, and fostering an effective culture of collaboration with teammates. Good communication skills also enable you to listen to the needs and preferences of clients and incorporate them into your work.
WATCHNG THE CLOCK
Graphic design projects often have tight deadlines, and a successful designer must be able to prioritise tasks and manage their time effectively in order to meet those deadlines. This includes the ability to work efficiently and handle multiple tasks at once. Without effective timekeeping, invoicing can also become incredibly difficult. It is very practical, but this is one of the skills that many people are not so adept at. Multitasking might not be everyone’s forte, but timekeeping needs to be.
Although a graphic designer may work independently on projects, they will often be part of a larger team and will need to be able to work well with others. This includes being able to take direction and give feedback in a constructive manner. Collaboration can be a powerful driver for progress, and an aspect of creative work that is often overlooked or maligned. Collaborative projects can lead to results that would be unattainable without the input of numerous designers. Now, the old proverb: ‘too many cook spoil the broth’ does still hold true. There needs to be a clear and present structure within the team; a backstop of final authority, if you will. This is why the designer needs to be a good team player. Without the skills necessary, collaboration can become a cacophony of differing voices leading to nothing more than a mismatch of shapes and colours. Work well with others, and the output will benefit.
Graphic design requires a strong understanding of various design software and technology. A successful designer should have a solid foundation in programs such as Adobe Creative Suite, as well as the ability to learn and adapt to new technology as needed. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence in art and copy creation, graphic designers need to be able to find ways to utilise the new tools. AI doesn’t need to be an opponent, it can be a powerful tool.
The final question remains. Are you a graphic designer or a Archaeoraptor? Unfortunately for the fossil, he is stuck, forever, as a scientific scandal. Luckily for those who aspire to be graphic designers, there is no end of time to hone, practice and grow in your skills. It is not as easy as downloading Adobe and liking fonts.
Here at Stonefern, we have spent years honing our skills to become an authority on design. We can lead you through the process of creating an iconic brand that serves your company and customers well. We can innovate your branding, breathe new life into your business, or help you get started. Our fossils are very much our own; our DNA forged in years of experience and practice.