I have recently decided to dedicate more time to improving my skills as a graphic and motion graphics designer. While every new project I work on is in itself a valuable learning tool, I have felt a growing need to expand my knowledge and skills. Here are a few ways to get better at design (or whatever you do!)

1. Collaborate with a fellow designer

Reach out to someone you know who has a different skill set or work focus and try to come up with a project you can work on together that will benefit both of you. If you are a motion designer, find an illustrator you've never worked with to put together a unique animation. If you specialize in branding, get together with your artist friend to create a logo for real or fictitious company. Not only will this be good for both your portfolios, but you might learn new techniques or work methods.

2. Daily challenges

Animated GIF I threw together on my quest to produce one a day. 1 down, 29 to go!

Animated GIF I threw together on my quest to produce one a day. 1 down, 29 to go!

We love the idea of creating things just for fun, but sometimes just don't get around to it if it's not on our to-do list. Set a content goal for the next 30 days and do your best to meet it. I've seen designers on Twitter posting one animated GIF a day. You could take your 30 favorite books and redesign a simple cover for each. If you would like to get better at designing infographics, pick a different topic or statistic each day. There are endless possibilities, I'd love to hear daily challenges you've done or plan on doing!

3. Learn a new medium

Picking up a skill or technique completely different from what you do on a daily can be fun, and also spill over into your current projects. Reading Richard William's The Animator's Kit to Survival* has inspired me to improve my drawing and sketching skills this year. I love drawing, but only do it rarely, and am not particularly good. If I make a habit out of practicing, I think I will not only enjoy the results, but also improve my design work and hopefully learn some traditional animation.

*I won a copy of this amazing classic from Paul Conigliaro, motion director & designer. You should definitely follow him on Twitter, he gets some good conversations going!

*I won a copy of this amazing classic from Paul Conigliaro, motion director & designer. You should definitely follow him on Twitter, he gets some good conversations going!

You could even embark on something totally outside your comfort zone; become an amateur pastry chef, learn to play the ukelele, get really good at Sudokus. Anything that challenges you and gets the creative juices flowing!

4. Follow tutorials

Whether purchased courses, or free classes from the Youtube masters like Video Copilot or Mikey, tutorials are a tried and proven way to keep your software skills sharp. They usually only take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes of your time, so try one a day for the next couple weeks and see how many new effects, techniques, workflows and even shortcuts you can master.  

5. Invite criticism

Criticism quote

Yep. We all inherently hate criticism, but when given in a constructive manner (or even when it's not!), it is an essential part of the growing process, in any area of life! Reach out this week to a friend, family member, or a designer you admire, and ask for their honest opinion on a specific piece or on your portfolio in general. Those in your industry can offer a critique from their knowledge and experience, and people totally outside of the design world can give valuable insight from a consumer's viewpoint. 

These are methods I plan to use to challenge myself to grow and improve as a designer! What things have helped you to learn the most in your area?

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