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Graphic Designers: 5 Tips to Get to the Top

You love designing but you don’t want to stay in the same level 5 years from now. You do not want to be glued on your computer chair all your life working for the same kinds of people, on the same kinds of projects, at the same rate. You are simply ambitious and you have bigger plans for your talent. Here are some simple steps to get ‘leverage’ as a graphic designer.

Work for free. I know this is not so easy to do especially if you are already used to getting paid after every project. You can’t help but think “hmmm, Will this really help my career?, ‘Why would I go back to that level?’ or ‘wait a minute… isn’t this a form of exploitation?’ Working for free is an investment if you’re doing it for big artists or for newbies who you think have great potential. Of course, do not just say yes to every musician who asks for help. You are a professional and you should ‘invest’ your talent and time wisely! Make sure there is a possible return of investment or else charge them.

X Deal. I am sure you have plenty of other interests aside from graphic design. For example, if you are into filmmaking and one of the band members has the perfect location for one of your scenes, then you can offer them an exchange deal. You’ll work on their artwork in exchange for a one-day shoot on their place. And who knows? They might even hire you for their music videos. Artists are here to help each other, right?

Read, listen, watch. You have to make it habit to read a book (or blog), listen to music, and watch something new every day. This is quite a challenge if you are a workaholic but as an artist, you have to constantly feed your brain or else you’d stagnate. You don’t want to design the same kind of stuff. You want to keep growing as an artist. Look for inspiration every single day- and you can get this a lot from other forms of art like music, film, literature, photographs. You read some comics or watch short films during your breaks. It only takes a month of getting used to. Bookmark sites that you want to read and make a list of movies you want to watch. It is a task at first but once you get used to it, it becomes leisure.

Explore other tools. Do not just stick to Photoshop just because you’re too familiar and comfortable with it. Try other software to achieve different effects. Who knows they might be easier to navigate than the one you’re so used to. If you hate wasting time, then you might like to check product reviews first to see if the program is worth exploring.

Be ready to your lose social life for a while. Designing is like writing. You switch yourself off to other people and to the real world when you are designing in order to be more efficient. Your best-friend is your computer and the only ‘active’ thing you do is the 10-minute trips to and from the fridge. Well, I’m exaggerating-it is not really like this for everyone. Some graphic designers do manage to maintain a social life. But this is the case for most of us, especially if you’re a workaholic working from a home-office. If you want to become a big-time designer and something more, then you have to be very dedicated to your work- be ready to lose social life and sleep for some time. As the saying goes “the harder you work, the luckier you get”. You’ll maybe get back to partying hard and sleeping 12 hours a day later-when you’re already a big-time designer managing your team.


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