This blog is powered by the leading online school of visual arts.

Select Page

5 Ways to Improve Your Design Game

by Margaret Penney | January 24, 2017

Even experienced designers need to raise their game from time to time. Here are some tips for creative self-improvement.

1. Be More Critical

If it’s your own work, it can be difficult to be objectively critical of what you create. It’s important though to develop the ability to see your work more from the outside, or better yet, from a variety of perspectives, to gauge how it will be appreciated by your client and the marketplace.

One good way to be more critical is to step back from the work for a day, if you can wait, and then look at it again. You want to put distance between yourself and the project so you can see it with fresh eyes. This is the easiest way to retrain your eye to see the project more objectively.

2. Seek Criticism from Others

If you’re not able to criticize your own work, try to find a designer or someone with an aesthetic sense to take a look at your work and provide feedback. Really anyone’s opinion is quite valuable and useful, but if you can have one or two people you can go to regularly who are designers or creatives, that should suffice.

3. Make Your Own Choices

Once you have your feedback the next step is to decide what is right for the specific project. You may choose to follow what others say or in some cases you may make your own totally new aesthetic decision regarding your design. The point is that you should make your own design decisions in the end, even with the feedback of others.

You do this because each project is different and you know the parameters for your given work. You may also do this because the job is not a cookie-cutter one, and you want to instill the project with your particular and unique design style or character. Euther way, the final design is up to you.

4. Visit New Places

Good designers create work from a place of knowledge and experience, so a key way to improve as a designer is to broaden your horizons.

Soul of the Street Calendar 2017

You don’t have to take a trip to Bali in order to broad your horizons– you can develop your aesthetic internal library by simply seeking out new places in your local environment, or places rife with visual information. Visiting a new restaurant with ornate and unusual decor is a way to experience a new aesthetic. A trip to the doctor may provide inspiration via the funky wallpaper they still have from the 80s in the waiting room. Or a hike up a mountain can provide beautiful color inspiration from nature itself.

5. Learn from Others

Last but not least, a key way to be a better designer is to learn from others.

You can do this by going to designer and artist talks. Talks are a great way to learn more about the process of being a designer and how to get from just having an idea or a brief to creating amazing creative work with many moving parts.

Dali Museum, Saint Petersburg Florida

Designer work is pretty much everywhere in many cities and towns. Retail and environment design boutiques and department stores hold much inspiration. Window displays can be an art unto themselves and appear like large dioramas.

You can also visit design museums and art galleries for some direct and valuable inspiration. Consider visiting exhibits of work that are not necessarily your favorites as well. There’s something to learning to appreciate opposite aesthetics that is good for designers, as it helps you develop your visual vocabulary.


Margaret Penney is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Margaret is a teacher, designer, writer and new media artist and founder of Hello Creative Co.


This blog is powered by Sessions College, the leading online school of visual arts.

NoD Newsletter

Enhance your inbox with our weekly newsletter.