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Tips and Tricks for Becoming a Successful Graphic Designer

Tips and Tricks for Becoing a Successful Graphic Designer

After reading Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything, by Aaron Draplin, I was able to sum up a few takeaways I got from his book about becoming a successful graphic designer, and how to find motivation around you. See if any of these tips and tricks can help you in your own work and your journey as a designer.

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Sketch things out. 

Whenever you start a new project and are having trouble with layout, or logo design, start by drawing it out. In my experience, it’s always easier to design after a sketch.

Whenever Aaron Draplin would start working out a new logo, he created multiple renditions in his notebook first, saying “Your hand is that much freer than a digital cursor on a screen.” It is true, and you’ll be surprised at how many great ideas can come from using a pencil and paper first.

Sketch Design 


Don't mimic a style.

Be unique and roll with it. Finding a unique trait to make your work your own is what sets you apart, and what makes your work desired. With that being said, always remember to answer client needs. You are the designer in the end, and if you have recommendations for improving design, do your best to convey those to the client. Teach them best practices and present your vision in a way that adds value to them.


Take in inspiration.

Take in as much as you can from your surroundings for your inspiration. Go on trips, see new things, observe architecture, packaging, cultural designs, anything and everything. Draplin was always one for travel. He used it to his advantage, “The whole time I always had a camera on the seat, ready to go. I took countless photos of landscapes, dead signs or kitschy roadside attractions.” It’s important to realize your inspiration doesn’t have to come directly from art or other design work.  


Fulfill the purpose.

In order to have continued success as a designer, you need to meet all requirements from the client while getting your message across. Doing all of that in a creative, intriguing and beautiful way is what impresses your client and helps you land your next project.

Great things can also come from necessity. Draplin always used different sketchbooks for his work, and carried one with him all the time. He used different brands like Moleskin or Muji—both are made outside of the U.S. and are rather pricey. So Draplin tried out his own line, and soon after developed Field Notes in 2005, which has been a rolling success ever since.

Fulfil the purpose notebooks


Keep learning.

Never stop striving for more knowledge; it will excel your work and keep your end product fresh and evolved. Take classes, learn new software, seek out advice from experts and do your own research. Draplin wasn’t able to get a computer for his work until 1998, and had to teach himself how to use it for his work. Graphic design is like all other things in the aspect that practice brings perfection. Keep learning and growing until you’re satisfied with your work.


Aaron Draplin was truly a source of inspiration for myself as a graphic designer. I learned a lot from his book, and strive to use his advice in my own work. Pick up his book, Draplin Design Co. Pretty Much Everything, and see for yourself!