You don’t have to have lived long before you start to learn some of life’s lessons on what not to do. The same goes for being a graphic artist. I remember my first screw up as a production artist at my first real gig. I was asked to cut and paste some high resolution proofs for presentation to the company’s executive board. I cut right up to the keyline boarders of the image instead of leaving some distinguishing white space. It wasn’t a disastrous mistake, and the Board probably never even noticed our quick fix. But needless to say, I was horrified. Not only did I learn to double check my instructions, but I learned how to correct mistakes like that in the future. Here are some Don’ts that can save you some stress and head aches along your graphic art journey. Keep in mind this post is for those who may have never had to design anything before but find themselves wearing the graphic artist hat. Some of you old salts may already be hip to these points.
When working on a brochure or logo, you may start with an idea sparked by a cool image of something you saw.
Even though you have an idea in mind, don’t let that restrict you from the freedoms of experimentation. Always try to improve your original concepts. You may find something better. Stay loose, and as much as the circumstances allow, have fun and let your imagination run wild.
Don’t get stuck on what someone else is doing.
It’s good to look at the work of others for inspiration, but when is enough enough? There are tons of portfolios online aside from the works posted on Deviantart, Facebook, and Myspace. If you look at too much of the work of others you may subconsciously try to emulate their style and frustrate yourself in the process.
Don’t spend all your time in front of the computer.
Believe it or not, computers have been known to hinder creativity. Think about it. A computer is a tool which processes ones and zeros. It’s very left-brain oriented. If you’re stuck in a 5 by 5 cubicle, armed only with your computer and maybe a radio (if you’re so fortunate), this my be fine for number crunching but it’s not the ideal environment for creativity. Grab a notepad and pencil, get some fresh air and get inspired. For more on this subject read this post.
Now this one may be a matter of personal opinion. Don’t get in the habit of using an old file as the foundation for it’s replacement, or for other future projects.
I worked for a manufacturing company that produced a catalog each year, and we usually started the new years file by reworking a copy of the previous year’s file. If there were any problems with that file, we automatically inherited it for the new project. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with using templates and having my specs predefined when starting a new project, like say a CD package. But for some projects it’s good to start from scratch. It can keep your workflow from getting too mechanical and mundane. And who knows, you may find an easier way of doing something or catch a minor or major flaw in your pre-production process.
Don’t be afraid to ask for and seek out help.
All you need is an internet connection and the world is at your finger tips. There are loads of resources out there. You can use LinkedIn to get advice from a professional, watch tutorials on YouTube, and read blogs like this one. You can come off looking like a Pro around the office and no one has to know the truth. Take advantage of all the resources you have available to you. Just think, polling a thousand designers on whether they prefer Quark Express or InDesign at a moments notice was not possible 20 years ago.
Hope this was helpful and that it causes you to seek out more information so your comfort level with graphic art will grow.