How to Become a Better Designer

Posted on May 8, 2024 | Updated on May 8, 2024

Four years of design school imparts a lot of knowledge. Still, to remain highly competitive in an ever-evolving industry, you must become a lifelong learner. Figuring out how to become a better designer and consistently build skills requires focus and determination. 

The day you graduate from school is only the beginning of your career journey. Add to your skills to keep growing and thriving in your new role. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are around 270,900 people working as graphic designers in the United States. Other design disciplines, such as web developers and interior designers add to the number. You may face some stiff competition for jobs and clients in some areas. 

Here are some tips on how to become a better designer so you stand out from the crowd and attract top businesses in need of your services. 

1. Reinforce the Basics

You’ll learn basics in design school, such as the Rule of Thirds and what color combinations work best together. Become as familiar with using basic design techniques as possible so you know when and how to break the rules.

Designers who are trendy and come up with new styles may be the most familiar with the traditional way to implement things. They then begin to experiment with adding in something different until they find what works best. 

2. Find a Mentor

According to, around 74% of those who had a mentor feel the person helped them succeed later. A mentor is someone who has made mistakes and learned from them. If you listen to what someone more experienced has to say, you can avoid some of the pitfalls of an early career and advance more quickly.

A mentor might be someone who has worked at your company for decades. It could also be a teacher, a coach you hire or a friend with experience in a specific area. You need someone who pushes you while also encouraging you to keep growing.

woman looking at computer and biting pencil as she studies new trends

3. Study New Trends

How to become a better designer includes studying new trends and seeing what other designers are doing well. You can learn a lot by figuring out how a popular designer changes things to make a design their own.

Visit sites such as Medium and Dribbble regularly to see what others upload. Keep a list of designs in your niche that you like. Practice creating something similar in your spare time. Once you can recreate a look, add unique elements to make it your own. 

4. Attend Conferences

Graphic and web designer conferences offer several advantages to those with a penchant for ongoing learning. First, they tend to have keynote speakers who have succeeded and have wisdom to impart. 

You’ll also gain access to workshops and classes to build skills in areas you may be weak. However, one of the best parts of conferences is the chance to meet others in the industry. You’ll have time to network and build connections. You can run ideas by others in your line of work and see if they can help you brainstorm that tricky design element you’re struggling with.

5. Take Online Courses

Are you struggling in a particular area? You’ll find tons of online tutorials and courses to help you master new skills. Udemy offers classes in topics such as creating with a drawing pad or using a particular software.

Adobe has numerous tutorials and videos to help you master their software. You can also turn to YouTube for tips on more advanced topics and specific elements you need to improve. 

6. Check Out New Technology

The artificial intelligence (AI) market is $2.98 billion in 2024 and will reach $1.84 trillion by 2030. Artists who ignore the rapidly changing landscape and impact of AI risk falling behind the curve. Not only should you learn how to utilize AI generators to create unique images but you can tap into the power of AI for brainstorming projects, marketing your business and outlining content. 

Here at Designerly, we don’t recommend using AI to write content as it currently tends to be rather shallow and repetitive. However, it’s an excellent tool to see what is already out there and how you can be unique. We encourage you to use it to brainstorm and do some research.

However, our testing found that AI currently is very convincing when it doesn’t have the facts. Frankly, it lies. Always check sources and utilize computers only for preliminary research. The software may improve and things could change. For now, AI is great for some things and lousy for others. 

7. Get Feedback From Professionals

Seek advice from others in your company and field. Your goal should be to improve your work a little each day. It’s hard to improve if you don’t understand where your weaknesses lie. Have your mentor make suggestions. Ask someone who just graduated how they’d create the same design–they may know of tools you don’t. Get feedback from the art director. 

If you work as a freelancer, you may need to pay someone to critique your work. Put in the effort to gain valuable critiques so you can become a better designer.

two men sitting at a table talking and building better communication skills for design work

8. Enhance Communication Skills

Graphic designers might make a gorgeous logo. However, if it doesn’t use the brand’s color palette or send the message the company founder wanted, it is worthless. Take the time to improve communication so you can offer people what they want.

Read articles about developing better communication skills. Practice active listening. Take notes so you remember what the client requested. Learn to ask the right open-ended questions to get the answers needed to do your best work. 

9. Refill Your Creative Well

Your work is creative. Over time, if you keep pouring into designs and not refilling your creative well, you could run dry and out of ideas. Spend time each week doing things you love. Go to a museum and check out the beautiful paintings. Take a class on a new technique. Read a book on design. Go for a walk in a park. Do the things that make your soul sing and you’ll naturally have more ideas to share. 

Keep Trying

Knowing how to become a better designer requires diligence. Put in the effort to improve, learn new skills and communicate better with clients. The only time you should stop learning is if you stop designing. The work is something that builds over time with experience. The more you know and the deeper your skills, the more stellar work you’ll produce. 

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