The New Year is upon us. It’s time to count our blessings, think about all the good things that happened this year and, of course, all the ways that we would like to improve. Most of us take on some form of New Year’s resolution to differing levels of success. And, while resolutions may not have worked so well in our private lives, there is no reason not to keep hope alive for professional resolutions. At least there’s money involved here, right? With that in mind, here are some of the top resolutions for graphic designers this year. Feel free to take one and pass it on.
1. Tweak Your Online Portfolio
For a professional who does most of his or her work online, you would think it would be second nature to create a detailed and impressive online portfolio. Sometimes this doesn’t pan out as naturally as one might think, though. Whether you’re exhausted from the previous day’s work or just can’t quite figure out how to market your strengths, you may be avoiding fully representing your true talents. Nix this in the bud this year and make it your first priority to create a sleek and professional design portfolio that showcases your best work and full range. Enlist a few friends and designers to help you with the final picks.
2. Stop Hanging Out with Mainly Other Designers
Most of us spend quite a bit of time with our colleagues. And, more often than not, our friends have similar professions. But there are always those friends who work in industries that have absolutely nothing to do with design. As easy as it is to hang out and talk shop all the time, getting in some communication with a different type of person is essential to sanity.
3. Open Up to Your Clients’ Communication Styles
Sometimes when we’ve been designing for a while, especially for the same clients, we develop a conversational shorthand. Your client describes what they want; you interpret that and take the reins for a final result. This is a predictor of a great working relationship. But remember to always step back and make sure you fully understand your client’s desires. Try asking different questions, showing them more examples, or pulling up something you don’t normally present. The same goes for new clients. Staying open to the nuances of your clients’ communication styles is an essential part of keeping them with you and keeping your edge. If you get into autopilot and forget to fully listen, that’s exactly when old designers lose out to hungrier, more experimental newcomers.
4. Design Your own Typeface
Some of us design our own typeface as a rule. Others don’t have time or are required to use copyrighted typeface. If you don’t typically design your own typeface or you feel like you could be doing it more, make a resolution this year to focus on typeface like never before. Try to create your own typeface for every design.
5. No More Using the Same, Tired Color Combinations
You probably have colors you gravitate toward when you want to convey a particular emotion or represent a certain brand. But you may not realize how boring and even dated your designs may be looking until you force yourself to use different color spectrum than the usual.
This cannot be overstated, and it’s something that most creatives could do a little more often. While professionals in other departments may do most of their work making deals over drinks or meeting contacts at conferences or seminars, designers are often left to the online universe to both connect and converse. There is often not as much reason or opportunity to mix and mingle. Getting offline and into the public eye, however, is essential to furthering your career. Make a point to attend any industry functions and accept all invitations from clients and fellow designers. Also, get out and attend creative events, like art openings or fashion shows.
7. Go Through a New Tutorial Every Week
If you don’t push yourself to constantly stay abreast of the newest techniques, you can count on your competition to do so. Make a resolution to go through a new technique tutorial every week. Work on the technique until you can integrate it into one of your ongoing designs.
8. Hone Other Artistic Talents
If you’re also photographer, makeup artist, videographer or set designer, do not stop honing those crafts just to spend more time on design. The more you expand your talents, the better your designs will be long-term.
9. Seek out New Inspiration
Coming up with original ideas on a daily basis is no simple task, and that kind of pressure can cause major burn out. The thing that makes it worse is that we commonly look to the same sources for inspiration but expect a different outcome. If you’re constantly perusing the same websites or blogs, heading to the same image galleries, or zoning out to the same movies or TV shows, it can be difficult to truly refresh your creative juices. Make an effort to seek out new sources of inspiration that you’ve never seen.
10. Stay Off Facebook
You know how many work hours you spend clicking away on Facebook. This is really time that you could be dedicating to furthering your career, improving your designs, or getting your work finished in time to enjoy the evening. It’s obvious, and many even argue that Facebook time helps productivity, but you know when you’re taking it too far. If you find yourself losing hours then it’s time to nix the habit.