Self Driven Development

May 29, 2013

One of the biggest challenges I have as a designer is how to stay fresh and creative over the span of my entire career — how to stay creative in the longrun. Part of my job is to stay on top of current design trends and to try and innovate where I can. However, trends change so fast that it can be a challenge to keep up with. Right now flat design is in, and gradients and drop shadows are considered cheap Photoshop tricks. But maybe gradients and drop shadows will come back around and be in again. You never know. So how do I keep myself creatively fit and constantly developing as my design career progresses?

Never Stop Learning

This sounds cliché, but it is so very true of the graphic design industry. Trends will come and go. Web design philosophies and languages will change. The creative tools of the trade will grow and adapt. In response to this I  try to always keep my mind open to new ideas and new ways of doing things — and adapt myself. I learn the new web languages and philosophies. And I experiment with the new tools. I keep myself in a constant state of learning, never afraid to try new things in the field of design.

Break the Rules


It’s not always appropriate, but knowing when to break the rules has helped me stay innovative. One of the greatest examples of a design rule being broken to great success is “breaking the grid.” To break the grid, a design element must violate the boundaries of a set space — a space that has traditionally acted as a container. It’s kind of hard to explain, so take a look at the image I attached (old website redesign concept). Breaking the grid is nothing new, but it was seen as an innovative design technique for visual emphasis at the time.


On top of my day job as a design professional, I also do freelance design work. It’s easy in this industry to end up doing one kind of design only. My last job was designing emails, and I did that for 3 years. The only way for me to continue developing creatively was to work on freelance projects on the side. This allowed me to keep in touch with all the other fun fields of design, like web and logo design, and stay fresh.

The hope is that way down the line, I’m still designing with a healthy mindset and the creative magic is still flowing.