Digging into an art project and getting creative has always been a passion of mine. From painting to drawing to more tactile projects, art and I go *way* back. One aspect I’ve always appreciated about learning a new creative skill is the ROI that comes with the investment of time and patience. That’s why, after becoming a Fellow at The Moak Group and getting tasked with creating exciting graphics for our social media channels, I looked forward to diving into the world of graphic design, knowing that I would have to learn an entirely new skill set in order to make the eye-catching graphics I saw lining the digital walls of TMG’s social.

I understood the basics of digital art, however my work in graphic design was very limited. With determination to improve my graphic design skills, and the help of my coworkers, I’ve started to get the hang of this graphic design thing.

While I may not be teaching a masterclass any time soon, I can provide some (TMG) insights into how I went from Microsoft paint to creating viral-worthy graphics in the Adobe Suite that can help you on your graphic design journey.

Research, Research, Research (and Then Research Some More)

Before starting any new project, the first step should always be to get some research under your belt. Graphic design is no different, as there are an abundance of online resources made to increase new skills, from novice to expert. The key is to find the guides and tutorials that work for you. Yes- I’m telling you to research your research.

I’ve spent countless hours watching videos and doing searches on the internet. The fact that I know which websites work for me, and can turn to them eliminates the intimidation of a random Google search and helps me pick up skills more efficiently.  This has helped me gain insights that allow me to not only use the Adobe Suite, but also learn and understand why you’re using the tools you’re using and how they work.

One of my first graphics published on The Moak Group’s social media pages

Ask for help

At TMG, we have a steadfast policy: only ask a question if Google can’t answer it for you. I’m starting with that because, while my coworkers are fantastic and always willing to help, no one wants to be the guy who always needs help.

After all research falls short, however, asking for help can be a great way to not only get the answer you’re looking for, but also learn the shortcuts that others have learned in their years of experience. Example: One time I was working in InDesign and having a problem with the grid. I Googled the issue, but couldn’t seem to narrow down my search well enough to solve the problem. I finally asked our awesome Digital Strategist, Becca, for help, and she had a fix for me in less than a minute- and now I use her trick every time I work in InDesign. Thanks, Becca!

Find Inspiration

Being creative can be mentally draining. I find the best way to get fresh new ideas is to look at what other people are doing in the creative field. I recommend scrolling on creative social media pages or searching the web to look at not just graphic design work, but all forms of art, for a bit of inspiration.

Design is not only inspired by design. Listening to music while working on design projects has helped me get my creativity flowing, and allows interesting new ideas to come more easily.

I wasn’t particularly inspired while writing social the week I created the below “neon sign” graphic. But, after some web-searching and music-listening, I came up with this idea, found a tutorial, and made it happen.

Have fun and test things out

Last but not least, practice and test things out. Challenge yourself. You’re not going to grow as a graphic designer unless you put in the time to practice your craft. When (read: if) you have some free time, look up videos on how to do new tricks with your software, play around and check out what tools do what. There are a crazy amount of free videos and tutorials online that you can use to your advantage.

Something fun I like to do? Watch a video or tutorial about how do to something and find a way to make it my own. Growing as a graphic designer is all about your mindset and how much time you put in.

Looking to up your graphic design game but don’t have the time? We’re here to help. Drop us a line.