I have seen many designer's work (logos, websites, brochures, animations, infographics, business cards, scenery, illustrations). Most are average but some stand out. Their work just takes you. You can't help but admire the quality of it and right decisions that were made. Even though you are in field of graphic design you still interact with it just as other person would.

In not so awesome works, certain graphic design principles and elements stand out. You can see they were well done, accurately used, and harmoniously interact with each other. However, you can still see these elements and not the design as whole. As one with a trained eye you can't help it.

On the other hand, designs that stand out are so great that you can't help but see the message and your brain ignores those elements. Basically, you become an audience as well.

So how does a graphic designer break the average design barrier? I know skills, imagination, and experience matter. But I don't know how to acquire them exactly or anything else that matters. How can I improve?


5 Answers 5


In not so awesome works, certain graphic design principles and elements stand out. You can see they were well done, accurately used, and harmoniously interact with each other. However, you can still see these elements and not the design as whole. As one with a trained eye you can't help it.

I have to agree with DA01's sentiments, the best way to break through the barrier is to practice. You're already on the right by analyzing the works of other designers. What you should do is take note of the specific elements of other designs that break the illusion for you.

One of the biggest things that breaks the illusion for me is the use of a common typeface.

Take for example the Patrón logo:


When I look at this, my first though is "oh, that typeface is Algerian". This doesn't make it a bad typeface choice and it certainly doesn't make it a bad logo. But I can definitely relate to what you're saying.

I wouldn't expect that individuals who don't deal with fonts everyday to experience the same thought process, but my general rules is "If I can recognize the typeface you're using, you're not trying hard enough".

After you're done the first draft of something you're design it, critique it in the same way you would if it was done by another designer. Try and identify any of the "illusion breaking" elements and make adjustments as necessary.

If time constraints will allow, one of the biggest things that helps for me is to ignore something for a day or two then come back to it. Sometimes, as soon as I re-open the file I'll look at it and say "I did that like this?! What was I thinking!"


Personally its a life choice and change. I say that because you almost need to eat and breath it. Spend time around it, get to know people, share ideas, spend times on boards, communities, read about it. You can't be good at every aspect of design but don't be afraid to ask for help and advise. Some great designs you see on many networks it shows people asked for ideas and someone's idea helped you find the lightbulb.

Today I love web design. I live for it, I spend about an hour every morning on a few sites (design shack, dribbbble, behance, etc. etc.) but I learn from what I've scene other people deploy and it gives me inspiration and ideas on how to create my own method to what someone else has done. You would be surprised how many techniques are duplicated daily. All it is is someones perspective or view on how to create it.

Personally I would find an area you are really passionate within graphic design and master it and review how others do it. Don't get nervious to ask how someone did something or even ask if you can take a portion of someone's concept and make it your own. You will be surprised how fun it is when someone sees your version of a design. It's a great discussion starter, too. Good luck.


skills, ... imagination, ... experience

Yes, those matter. Imagination first of all. If you can't generate ideas, skills don't matter. They are there to execute your ideas. How well you do that is in parts determined by your experience. But it's all a bit more complex than just having the right skill set.

In the day-to-day life of a graphic designer, we would all love to work on out projects till they are fantastic. But most of the time, there is no time/budget. Most of the time I have to be rather pragmatic when it comes to "wowing" anyone. But that's really how you get those chances to work on something big and exciting that you can sink all your skills in till it's perfect. By making every small thing matter. No project too small. No font-choice too unimportant. Attention to detail instead of waiting for big hits. And it's a good learning process too. Because that's really what those "awesome works" are made of. And once people are convinced that everything you touch (no matter how small or unimportant the project is), that's when you get those projects that you can show off later. And you learned how to do it on the way.


Always take more time using your best designing programme, always make sure that you don't give up on anything concerning designing because that will always be regarded as a failure in your designing carrier. Conduct research, visit other designers and see their works where possible try to copy and even make your work look better by combining ideas.

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    – JohnB
    Commented Nov 28, 2013 at 18:37

Practice, attention to detail, time, and work towards a goal of finding your own voice or style. It will come, but the time and dedication are essential. The best make it look easy, but there are lots of hours and blood, sweat and tears behind their abilities. Ask for criticisms from those you admire. Eventually, your work will take on a nuance.

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