Ten Rules Graphic Designer Should Know and Follow


We all have read the rule of graphic design, but have you heard of the ten commandments? In this article, we will be discussing these ten commandments or should I say ten rules a graphic designer should know and follow.

“Creativity is not a mood. Creativity is not a gift. It’s the very nature of God inside of you.” – Dan McCollam

• No stealing of thy neighbours works

It’s one way to envy the works of others and another to purposively stealing it and passing it off as your idea. Sure it’s okay to be inspired by great design, but going as far as copying the entirety of it, omitted the watermarks, is just not a good idea plus it is illegal. You could be filed a case of plagiarism if caught and even if you weren’t, your actions will one day smack you on the head come to face a new client requesting for a similar design. Do you want to keep doing this for the rest of your career?

• No to FREE Design!

This is your career, you know the one that helps put food on the table? Learn to turn down a request without being too pushy though.

• Thou shall plot out your ideas first

For the most part tons of designers seldom follow this rule. In a fast-paced environment, it is better to go straight up and do the work. This might be true to an extent, but in the long run, doing works without first thinking it through or plotting it out even in just a piece of paper would most likely just bring more trouble not only to you but also to your clients.

I know what your thinking. “But I don’t know how to draw?!”

First of all, you DON’T have to know how to draw to be a graphic designer. A lot of my fellow designers can’t even draw to save their skins, yet they are quite skilful in creating innovative and creative designs. This is because unlike drawing, which requires some form of inborn talent, designing is a skill and like all skills can be taught plus with the advancement of technology it is much easier for anyone to learn the skills needed to. If you can even just roughly draft an understandable design it would be more than enough. It is better to do the revisions on the concept rather than revising on an already completed design.

• Thou shall always proofread your work

I can’t even stress this enough! Designers usually focus so much on the aesthetics of their work that they often overlook the texts on the design. This is especially concerning if you are working in fields like publications or print advertising. A good designer should not only have a keen eye for art, but also a keen eye for grammar and spelling as well. A good practice is after proofreading it yourself first, find someone else who could proofread it a second time and if that is not enough look for another to proofread it again. As cliché as it is, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

• Thou shall learn to speak in images

A great graphic designer is also a great visual thinker and storyteller. It might seem like a stretch to fuss over some trivial stuff like the colour temperature of an image or how some elements are wrongfully cropped, but to a designer, this is the very essence of their profession. Being able to convey the right message with limited to no words at all is if not the pinnacle of a great graphic design.

• Thou shall never forget to save

This should be done without being said, always do backup your file or suffer the consequences of a power surge. Luckily new versions of the Adobe Suite CS6 and later comes with an auto-save feature that could be set at any time. This saved my skins for more than a hundred times now really.

• Thou shall acknowledge the empty space

A good designer knows a space isn’t just a space. The unfilled area in a design is just as much a part of it as with the others. Learn to make good use of this element to give your design the right amount of breathing space it requires.

• Do share your knowledge with others

Sharing your knowledge will not lessen your skills or ideas. It would do the opposite. You see in sharing what you know to others you are allowing them to grow and develop their skills as well as create their own opinion on your facts and in turn, the same people you help, as they grow, could have a different insight or perspective built from your idea that could be added and even improve the knowledge that you shared.

• Thou shall be opinionated, but open-minded

Growing up I have always been thought that being open-minded is the inverse of being opinionated, but I soon realized that the two aren’t opposites at all they work hand in hand most of the time.

To be open-minded you need to have a sound opinion on things for you to be able to identify what is good from what is morally wrong.

Placing it with design, now and then you will be faced with clients who have varying opinion on what the design should look like. For most of the time, this shouldn’t be a problem as most clients believe in the calculated opinion of a designer, but for those few times you encounter a bit difficult to handle kind of client, you should remember to assess the situation with a clear and level-headed mind lest you will have one hell of a bad time.

• Be strict, but don’t forget to have fun

A designer has sets of rules to follow, but it doesn’t mean you have to be stiff as a poker. A good designer knows when to break the rules if needed to.


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