If you really want to understand design, it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date on trends. However, who sets those trends, and if you really want to learn cutting-edge designs, shouldn’t you study the best designers?
When it comes to trendsetting, there are some designers that you absolutely should learn more about and whose work you should get to know on a personal basis.
Sarah Parmenter is a British designer worth studying. She opened her own blow dry bar and created her own hair company called Blush. At the time, she had no knowledge of the cosmetic industry when she started her business, and felt a little out of her element, since it’s a male-dominated industry. And her business took off and she opened several locations because of the high popularity.
In addition to her entrepreneurial inclinations, Sarah has designed for clients such as Blackberry and the National Breast Cancer Foundation of America. She was voted “Designer of the Year” by her peers, who recognize and appreciate her talent.
About as far from a traditional design standard as you can get, Mister Doodle takes images and creates beautiful typography on them. He posts these designs on Instagram, and you can draw a lot of inspiration from them.
If you aren’t already incorporating some beautiful, bold typography into your designs, then Mister Doodle will offer you some inspiration. He also takes trending topics and ties those into his designs. One example would be his Pokémon GO typography example within the screenshot below:
Maria Grønlund is a designer out of Denmark. She uses amazing and vivid photographs to create unique branding for her clients. Her photos grab the eye because she uses such vibrant colors in abstract forms.
Even more traditional logos, such as Ignitec’s rabbit, become bold and bright through her designs and take on an appearance of almost having movement and life.
From Maria, you can learn to be bold. Don’t be afraid to use bright, vibrant colors for your designs. If a client is resistant, show him a more traditional design next to a bolder design. You might just surprise him with how interesting and attention-grabbing those bolder designs are.
Keetra Dean Dixon
Keetra Dean Dixon is a designer located in New York. She is an artist and director, which probably allows her to mesh different mediums other artists might not consider meshing together, and to come up with something truly one-of-a-kind. She’s received awards such as the SFMOMA, ADC Yung Guns Honorable mention and the U.S. President’s Award.
Note in the screenshot above that her designs have a very three-dimensional feel to them. They almost leap off the page. You can learn from Keetra that it’s okay to try new things, to bring in elements from other mediums and to incorporate three-dimensional elements.
Jianping He is a Chinese designer. His creations, including posters, blend together typography and letterforms to create a sense of motion.
Even He’s website itself is a work of art. A jumble of typography that, when you mouse over it, becomes a beautiful drop-down menu (see the two screenshots below).
And you can learn a lot from this designer. In addition to his cutting-edge typography blended with design, he also reaches out to a global market by offering the site in several languages (Chinese, English and German) and listing international and local addresses.
While we’re talking about his designs, look at the image of the poster below. It’s one of many. He intertwines several elements within this poster. It is a beautiful, streamlined design, including typography and imagery that’s quite unique.
Some of his clients include Amnesty International and Berlinale Film Festival. Also, he’s won numerous awards, including the Type Directors Club Award, One of the Emerging Graphic Designers You Should Know (Complex Magazine) and 100 Best Posters Award of Germany.
His work is colorful and full of straight, clean lines. Designers can learn a lot by studying his work, because of the blend of typography, color and simple shapes.
Continue to Learn
And so, one of the best things you can do for yourself as a designer is to continue to learn new techniques and try new things. The reason these designers are recognized for their work is because they try new things. They aren’t afraid to step out of the box.
At the same time, each designer remains true to his overall style. You won’t see Thomas Kronbichler using a watered-down color scheme, and you won’t catch Jinaping He creating flat typography that doesn’t have an element of motion.
So, what’s your one overriding characteristic that people will recognize throughout all of your designs? Once you understand the element that makes your designs uniquely yours, you can implement that into each design while still branching out and trying new and interesting things. Continue to learn from each designer you come across and try new techniques for yourself, and you can be the one winning awards and landing lucrative contracts with big corporations!
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.