9 Steps to Becoming a Top-Notch Designer

Not everyone is born with artistic skills. Many people spend years honing their craft. If you have any interest in becoming a graphic or web designer at all, here are a few ways to go about achieving your goal.

Buy Books

llibreria - bookstore - Amsterdam - HDR

Image via Flickr by MorBCN

This is a bit obvious, but the first place you should turn to for help would be to books. What better way to learn how to be an amazing designer than to learn from the best people themselves? A great starting point would be “White Space is Not Your Enemy: A Beginner’s Guide to Communicating Visually through Graphic, Web and Multimedia Design” by Rebecca Hagen and Kim Golombisky. This book covers a wide range of topics, from simple forms to websites.

Read Blogs


Image via Flickr by Gina Vasquez

Expanding on researching the topic, there are many graphic design-related blogs out there. Follow the authors on social media, assuming they have a link to their accounts on their site. You’ll often find that they’ll post early versions of their work, and they may even talk with you and help you out.

Learn to Draw


Image via Flickr by mmagnum

As a person who isn’t great at illustrations, this is much easier said than done. There are multiple resources out there for you to take advantage of. Searching brings up multiple sites, but one of the best is DrawSpace. On DrawSpace, you’ll get tips for people who are new to design, an introduction to drawing, how to properly draw outlines, shading, figures, and how to really make your works of art spring to life. Every lesson comes with a price, though. You’ll have to turn in assignments and you’ll get to interact in a virtual classroom setting with other people who want to learn how to draw. The certification courses allow you to receive feedback from your instructors, and earn credits toward your certification. Classes last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months.

Learn the Grid

Web design grid (768px wide)

Image via Flickr by guyweb

In order to build a well-balanced design, you’ll have to build a layout. Divide your layout into evenly spaced columns and rows and use them as guides. This allows you to focus on the creative side of your work. This can be used as a guide for the layout decisions. And like developing landing pages, sometimes keeping your design simple is best.

Make Mock-Ups

Mockup design for Blommer Chocoloate Company

Image via Flickr by SayShea

You can read about design all day, but at some point, you’re going to have to put the blogs away and try out some designs on your own. For web designers make sure to browse through options and select a proper theme. Create mock-up designs for fake companies, or try your best to replicate some popular designs. Try out designs for websites, brochures, logos, or anything else that comes to mind. You could try using a computer to do this, but a tablet would be preferred. One of the many tablet pc uses, in addition to social media and gaming, is graphic design. It’s much easier to draw designs on a tablet than a desktop computer, and they’re becoming more affordable.

Attend Lectures

Lecture Hall

Image via Flickr by unniinnsbruck

Check around and attend lectures online or at Universities. There may be a small fee associated with the lecture, but the small fee is just a small price to pay compared to what you’ll learn. The lectures are hosted by people who have been in the profession for years, so they know what they’re talking about. Make sure to take notes, you’ll want to recall the things they have to say.


Boulevard Networking Event 2010

Image via Flickr by 1102 Grand

To bridge off the last point, it’s important to connect with other graphic designers. These are people that have the same passion that you do, and they’re struggling to make their mark as well. You never know how your new mates will be able to help!



Image via Flickr by Eneas

Brainstorming sessions are where the magic happens. Make sure that you have a pencil handy! Don’t worry about adding fancy ideas or colors, just worry about setting the framework for your design. Once you’ve got something solid, try to recreate it in the program of your choice. Never settle on a single design. Play around with your different sketches and see which one looks the best.

Tell a Story

Story Telling

Image via Flickr by Pumpkin Chief

Tell a story with your work. Think about your topic, and what it covers. For example, for an electronic recycling campaign, someone made this poster. The ultimate objective is to tell a story with as little as possible. You want something that grabs the user’s attention; something that’s extremely unique.

The path to becoming a top-notch graphic designer isn’t an easy one. No matter what your background, you’ve got a seemingly insurmountable path ahead of you. The Internet offers many ways for you to network and improve your skills.