10 Things I Learned as a Graphic Designer


By now I have been working in the corporate industry for about 6 years, and in those years I picked up some tricks and learned some hard lessons as well. I know there are countless articles out there that tackles the same topic, but for this one, I’ll be focusing on the Philippine corporate world. In the hopes that this will help future designers and provide them with the insights, they need to thrive and grow. With that being said here are the 10 things I learned as a Graphic Designer working in the Philippines.


1. Questioning Your Skills

When I first stepped into the corporate world, I was so sure of my creative skills.

After all, I have been doing graphic design since I was in high school or so I thought. 

During my studies, I have always been praised by my peers and teachers of my skills. 

All of this went out of the window the moment I was assigned as a new Jr. Designer at one the telecom company in the country. 

I was placed under the consumer marketing department and during my time there let’s just say the works I deemed awesome didn’t quite fit the design they were looking for. 

I had to deconstruct the way I was doing my work. Even tried moulding myself to fit the designer they needed but in the end, I still had to leave the company due to other reasons. 

It wasn’t until I got my second job that I was finally able to learn the right method and design technique. I am forever grateful to my seniors for that.

The takeaway here is that no matter how good you think you are, sometimes your work just doesn’t fit the environment. The corporate world or specifically the marketing world requires designs that don’t only look good but must also be able to deliver the message properly.


2. Design Faster and Be More Efficient

When I was still a newbie, I was under the impression that design takes a great amount of time to be good. There was even a saying in my class back then that “Art takes time”. 

I would like to clarify it here now that yes Graphic design is a form of art, but you must not forget that it is a constrained variant of it. As such it must adhere to the rule of corporate branding and the message the company wishes to convey to the audience.

That being said if you wish to be a good Graphic Designer, you must learn to follow a strict schedule and be mindful of your work. The less mistake you make, the faster the process of approval will be.


3. Learn to Prioritise

Newbies are prone to be overloaded with tasks and I was no different.

In my experience, I have learned that the department I am assigned in isn’t just the department I had to serve.

As a Graphic Designer for a company, you will be tasked to create other works for other departments depending on the situation. 

Typically, new designers will have seniors to help them out in prioritising each of their tasks.

Though, as you gain more experience you will soon learn to distinguish an urgent task from a task that can be put on hold until later on.

Nowadays, there are tons of software you can use in categorising tasks, these tools will help you be more productive and efficient with your tasks.


4. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Your Mind

Most creatives tend to be quite shy and docile in their demeanour and as such would often never speak up. This becomes a problem when you have a boss that thinks that all their ideas are correct. As a designer, you should be the one directing the flow of the design as you are the one most knowledgeable in bringing the message of the company to life. 

You must learn to discern a good concept from a bad one, and always give your thoughts on it if necessary. After all, you will be the one to do the work and will be the one to know if the things being requested from you is aligned with your capability and moral.


5. Joining a Publication Helped

Looking back I was glad I stumbled on the school publication on my first year in the university.

It was here that I first experienced what it was like working with others in pursuing a common goal.

I was also able to utilise my knowledge in Graphic Design by being the Artist in-charge in doing the Layout for the Newspaper.

If you are still studying, try joining an organisation or an extracurricular activity.

This will not only help in improving your design skills but it will also train you in learning how to better interact with others.


6. Never Take Things To Heart

Based on my understanding, being a bit too emotional is a classic trait of a Filipino.

Now there is nothing inherently bad about being emotional here and there, after all, we are human and humans are naturally feeling creatures.

Though, if you wish to enter the corporate world, you must learn to lessen this trait. 

Accepting criticism is one of the things you must learn fast if you truly want to adapt to this environment. 

You must learn to accept that not everyone will appreciate your work and that’s okay.


7. Be on Time [Drop the Filipino Time]

The concept of Filipino time is another trait that you should leave behind the moment you enter the work-force.

At first, this was one of the main issues that I had when I was still new.

I was so used to being late for classes during my university days that I even brought the same mentality to the office.

Even if you are the greatest designer ever, tardiness will still greatly affect your performance.

Punctuality is an attitude you must adapt early in your career and this applies too in other aspects of your life as well.


8. Learn the Core Culture of The Company

One of the best way to not feel overwhelmed is by getting to know the overall culture of the company.

I have always been pretty introverted when it comes to my personality, so dealing with people isn’t my strong suit.

This is another issue that I had in my first company.  The culture that they have didn’t quite sit well with me.

So, for the next company that I applied for, I made sure to ask the recruitment officer all the necessary question in regards to the culture they have.

Luckily enough they have the culture that I was looking for.

I still had to adapt a bit more as I am usually a pretty reserved person. Though over time I did get better in interacting with my colleagues, especially when I learned how they think and become more mindful on what I say.


9. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

As a reserved person, I usually keep things to myself and that sometimes even extends to things that I am not so sure of.

If you have something you are not sure of, don’t be shy to ask your colleagues. This is not only a great way to better understand the task you need to work on, but this may even serve as a way in getting to know your coworkers better.


10. Never Stop Learning

Probably one if not the most important lesson I learned in my years of working.

Things are constantly changing and this applies to the design world as well.

If possible, try to learn new techniques that you can integrate into your work.

You can even learn new skills, such as web design or even web programming if you have the time.

Regardless of how much you may know now, you must realise that you can never truly know everything.


So in conclusion, those are all the 10 things I have learned so far in my experience as a Graphic Designer. I know some of my experiences might not be applicable to others, but the one I have wrote here are all the ones that I think would benefit newbies the most.

If you are a fresh graduate and currently looking for your first job, never give up! It might take some time before anyone responds to your application, so in the meantime, hone your skills and do some research. 

Go outside and join local events near you that offer free training or seminars. Connect with other creatives and most importantly have faith in yourself.