I’m not ignorant! I’ve been there, I’ve done that and you could say that I’ve been in the exact same position as you are in now.
Looking for a full time job in graphic design is a full time job but as a creative person don’t let ay spare time go to waste. Use whatever chance you can to learn new skills and technology whilst you’re job hunting because you are after all a creative and anything new that you can learn can be applied to your working process if and when a time calls for it.
I’ve seen logo designers who resort to actually making the logo physically out of paper as a testing process. This can’t be done unless you know your paper stock and maybe a bit of crafting.
I’ve seen some logo designers who’ll create an animated version of a final logo design just for fun. To do so you’ll need to look past Photoshop and Illustrator and get familiar with the likes of Adobe AfterAffects and Adobe Edge.
The idea here is not to flood yourself with design skills but to embrace design. Take on the learning of new skills open-heartedly and you may find that by being a little unorthodox you can come up with a unique working process that makes you and your work just a little bit special.
From a business or employers point of view, any additional skills you have are always a bonus and you don’t necessarily have to be a genius at any new skills but a little experience can go a long way.
Learning new skills will open up new doors for your own career as a designer. If you’re a graphic designer, learn some CSS and you might find that you like it! In turn it could be the stepping stones to becoming a front-end developer.
There are many success stories in the design world were designers grew their additional skillset and became pioneers in other design fields. Saul Bass was known not just as a great identity designer but also great at poster design and title sequence designer.
Likewise Paul Rand is famous for creating some of the best logos of our time but his reputation as a designer grew from his page design work for magazines.
The bottom line is that the more you can learn, the better your ability to be creative or execute a task will be but it’s not all about technology.
The good old fashion idea of sketching is still probably the best skill that you can hone as a designer. You don’t have to be good at drawing to be a good designer but I have to say that it bloody helps if you are.
The pencil and paper is much more fluid, quick and easy to use as a creative tool then computer software because there’s a certain sense of freedom that comes with moving a pencil across a paper. Sketching allows us as humans to do 3 important things and these 3 things are really helpful for designers so forget Photoshop, shut down the PC or Mac and grab a pencil and a piece of paper to start developing your ideas.
1. Sketching helps to Develop ideas.
A pencil and paper allows us as designers to draft ideas and physically get them out from our brain a lot quicker, kind of like visual notes. At that point it’s also easier for us to review them and make immediate iterations to develop an idea but it’s also training our brains with a formidable working process to develop ideas in general.
2. Sketching makes Memory notes
Ever heard the phrase “draw what you see”. That’s pretty much the reward of sketching. We can only draw something well if we observe and take note of a subject visually. By reproducing it via a sketch we’re then processing what we saw in an attempt to replicate it. These are basically visual knowledge notes on what things looks like and how we can draw/reproduce them at our own will. This will become extremely handy when designing because the more you can observe and draw, the easier it will become to produce a design based on your past experience and memory.
3. Sketching Develops Skills
The better you are at sketching then the better your draft work will be and in turn you’ll find that digitising the draft will also be a quicker and easier process as most of the leg work has already been done on paper.
If you can, keep sketching, if possible on a daily or weekly basis and remember that the beauty of sketching is that it doesn’t need to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be anything in particular.
Keep it fun! To build your sketching skills draw whatever you want whether it be a person, portrait, some type or a cartoon character and work it up as much or as little as you want.
You will become a better designer for doing so.