Kick Starting your Design Career

Hey. How's it going? I hope it's going good.

Recently, I've read a good number of posts on social media by newbies on the block who keep asking what and how to go 'bout getting started with graphic design. Well, it may look like an old question, but, it's a very important and recurring one.

Sometimes, it can be confusing on what to do and where to go first. While you'd be put down the right path in a design school, we all know that becoming a designer doesn't necessarily mean you have to attend a design school. So, where would a newbie start off when he/she wants to get into the design field.

Yes,  I know there're a million and one videos on youtube, Udemy and Skillshare. Adobe products are out there for a 30 day trial. Corel has it's own products. Sketch and good number of others. But, getting started with design is not about the tools. The tools are important, yes I know, but, at this stage, they ain't.

First, you 'll need to understand what design is. What it does. How every bit of it is achieved. And, the best practices. I guess, somehow you may not  have come across these things. So, I think we 'll look at it together.

The BIG question: What is design?

According to wikipedia; Design is the creation of a plan or convention for the construction of an object, system or measurable human interaction.  
Designing often necessitates considering the aesthetic, functional, economic, and sociopolitical dimensions of both the design object and design process. It may involve considerable research, thought, modeling, interactive adjustment, and re-design. Meanwhile, diverse kinds of objects may be designed, including clothing, graphical user interfaces, skyscrapers, corporate identities, business processes, and even methods or processes of designing. 
And it goes further to say: It is an act of creativity and innovation.

With these, you know that design goes beyond Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Cinema 4D, or any design software you probably must have come across. Design is art with a function.

With a Client wood sign with hanger - Credit: etsy
While design does sell aesthetics, it's more of function than beauty. Take for example Craiglist or Nairaland or the door sign above, you 'll notice that they have one thing in common, they are all designed with just two colors. But, these are things that are used everyday, and we still get the satisfaction we want from 'em. That, is design.

Design does not need to have five colors to be perfect. It needs to have the most appropriate and least number of colors and still meet its demands. Since we 've come to understand that design is not basically 'bout the tools or colors, that gives birth to the second question.

How then do we design?

First things first. Same thing applies to design. Before getting started with design, it is necessary to know and understand basic design principles and elements(Which I'll cover in a different post).

Design is the application of basic guides to achieve whatever you need to. Every design has its reasons. And just like transportation, you have to be in the bus to enjoy the ride. The first phase of design is research. While it may seem difficult and confusing at first, it goes a long way in seeing that your design conforms to and fits in well to the industry you're designing for. Research lets you in on the kind of images, icons, font types, colors, and tone to give your design.
A design is only right when it appeals to the market it's made for. 

Another important aspect/step in design is sketching. Yeah, you heard that. But, hey, I'm not saying you have to become as good as Collyde prime before you can design. But, you should be able to draw lines to be able to picture what you intend to work on.

Some will ask, why do I need to sketch when I can design directly on my PC?
Yeah. I was that confused at first. But, come to think of it, why?

Here's what I found on tutsplus:

1. Rapid Concept Development
Sketching is an excellent way to quickly explore concepts. You can sketch for one or two hours and work out multiple possible solutions to the design problem at hand. This is an essential step in the design process. It will save you time to work through concepts on paper before going to the computer. While it is possible to build sketches on the computer, it's not as fast as sketching multiple concepts on paper.

2. Basic Composition or Layout
Sketches are a quick way to create the basic composition of your illustration. They are also used in Web site design and graphic design to quickly evaluate layout choices. You can make a series of thumbnail sketches, or they can be larger. As long as your sketches are good enough that they capture the necessary elements, drawing skill is unnecessary.

3. Visual Exploration
Sketching can be used as a journaling activity to record and explore your interests. It can also be used to explore multiple options you could take in a particular design.

4. Refining Visual Solutions
The process of creating a design or illustration at later stages involves refinement. The overall concept and direction of the piece may be working great, but one element isn't. Often, this can be tightened up and corrected in further rounds of sketching. Of course, at some point a digital artist moves to the computer. The process of sketching then moves into digital drafts.

You may feel the desire to skip sketching and jump straight to the computer or work out your solutions as digital sketches. There is nothing wrong with that, especially for your own experimental work. There is no quicker method for exploring multiple visual solutions than sketching though. Try to weigh the advantages of sketching in regards to the project at hand. 

I'll leave it here. To be continued next week.

Felix Obinna

Creative Visual + UI Designer • Awesome Dude. Curator/Writer at cgminds .