A thought came to me at work the other day: as a visual designer, how much can one learn while designing for an institution, company, or even as a freelancer? I’ll admit, I’ve learned a lot while working for my job — namely the simple idea of using Media Queries in my CSS to optimize your site for mobile devices, better project management skills/communication with clients, and upholding a consistent brand. However, what about visual design? Can you grow as a visual person and expand your ability to create new things that align with whatever current trends?
It’s not easy (but not impossible) to grow as a visual designer when you’re in a stabilized position. You’re constantly maintaining an already existing brand, and it’s moderately difficult to find and utilize new visual techniques. Sure, you can apply what you know on an aesthetic level, but no matter where you work (and I’ve done my share of agency and freelance work), you’ll have to find external places to find inspiration. I think that’s a problem most designers have — you’re in a comfortable place (if you’re lucky), but you go through the everyday motions of the job.
That’s why, I feel, communicating and looking at the other work of other designers, going out in the world and finding up-to-date-trends, and doing a lot of research on your own can help you grow as a visual person. Because of this realization, I’ve decided to buy monthly subscriptions to Print Magazine and Communication Arts. Sure, they say that print is dead (ahem, i-D Magazine), but there’s something completely wholesome and comforting when you have a tangible, touchable object to read and skim at without having to resort to the web. Both magazines tend to aggregate the best of visual design, and the articles definitely uncover the philosophies of other designers and the nature of design in general. My goal is to find and sustain inspiration, especially in a field where trends and techniques are ever changing, and over-saturated by the web.
Furthermore, for any designers out there, I highly highly recommend William Lidwell’s Universal Principles of Design. It reads like encyclopedia, but it’s an excellent resource for designers and helps them understand the rationale of good design.
So, to open up the discussion in your own head (because, fuck comments on a personal blog) what inspires you?