Practicing Graphic Design

Hey guys,

I’m sure this question was asked before, but as a new graphic design student I am trying to “practice” doing more graphic design. Other than doing my class assignments and getting feedback, is there another way to practice?

I watch youtube videos to get information, but should I be creating my own project briefs to practice? Is it possible to still get better with no peer feedback?
Should I try following illustration videos on youtube to learn new tricks?

I guess I just don’t know what would make me develop into a better designer. I may be overthinking everything, but any insight would be so helpful!


Personal project briefs are great as long as you can hit a deadline. And yes, always learn new tricks especially the capabilities and restraints within the print industry.

And speaking of restraints … try never to be literal. To me a literal interpretation screams “I’m not a graphic designer.”

And always remember this:

A logo is only successful by association … I’m paraphrasing Paul Rand who said …

“Should a logo be self-explanatory? It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning. It derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes.”

So in light of that … don’t design a clever roof line for a roofing company. A church? Don’t design a cross/bible/pew/ etc., A landscape company … no plants.

And then you’ll see if you are actually a graphic designer … or simply a clever mimic.

Feel free to post your practice pieces in The Crit Pit. If you also post your brief and situation, this will really help out the people reviewing your work.

If you need help writing a brief, post your draft brief here.

If you just want drafted briefs, use any of the crowdsource sites.
But just for the briefs. Don’t waste your time participating. Or put your practice to use and go for it. I have no pity on the type of person who contracts one of those sites. Just remember, you as a designer will gain nothing. Not even if your design is selected as The Winner. Those sites are not how the real world works.
But they are good for briefs.

I am not of the school of literal, but I would never draw the line as grfkdzgn has. A roof, cross, or plants may actually suit the demographic of the clientele involved when a logo is being designed. What has to be unique is in how it is presented, but you still have to consider the target audience. The logo doesn’t have to necessarily show what is sold, but don’t ever limit yourself to “absolutely not” even if Paul Rand said so.

Creating your own briefs risks skewing them to favor what you want to do. A more true-to-life approach would be to tackle projects that are more problematic. PrintDriver’s ideas (and warnings) about getting briefs from elsewhere, like the crowdsourcing contest sites, is a good one.

I don’t think peer feedback is always necessary. If you’re a student in a good design program, you’re learning how to be critical of your own work and receiving critiques on nearly everything you produce. Peer feedback is important, but there’s also room for the growth that comes from self-directed exploration outside of a structured environment. Once you’ve graduated from school, the honest, helpful, formal critiques will be fewer and farther between (depending on where you work), so learning how to be your own harshest critic is important.

Good design isn’t about learning “new tricks,” but picking up new skills that will enable you to better take advantage of your design abilities is always a good idea.

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This is something of a tangent, but I don’t think Paul Rand was saying that logos couldn’t be realistic or self-explanatory. I think he was saying that, counter to the assumptions of many clients, it isn’t necessary for them to be so. Any consistently used logo, realistic or abstract, will come to be associated with its parent organization.

Thank you for the great and informative answers everyone!

what do you guys mean by “crowdsourcing sites”? Can you provide a few options or what I should search for to find those?
EDIT: Actually I think I found what you are talking about. Like 99designs for example!

You can volunteer graphic design skills to organizations in need.

You get real-life portfolio pieces, satisfied clients, recommendations for your LinkedIn profile. And you feel good about it. They get better design than if they did it themselves.

It’s a total win-win.

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I don’t think my skills are to the point of being able to work for a client yet. I am still in my first year and learning a lot :slight_smile:

Yeah, sites like that.
Don’t get sucked in.

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