for aspiring designers
The missing link to Win Design competitions & Clients early on
Participating in design competitions early on is the best way to boost your learning.
Winning one after another is the best way to boost your career —period.
My wife Shumi, following her heart, started learning graphic design in her late 20s.
Switching careers on blind faith is never easy, and she didn't have much time.
If you are in a similar position, and you need to improve in design and start earning fast, then read along!
You may find the missing element you need to become an in-demand creative professional.
After 3 months of learning the basics in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, she enlisted in her first contest in 99designs, cherry-picking the subjects she liked.
"I simply chose the contest I was interested to practice on."
She sent in several variations, following the criteria in the brief closely (an important key).
And then, she received this message from the contest runner:
"I never imagined that I could win.
That I could be selected.
But then it happened.
And then again. And again.
In about every 3rd-4th contest I participated in, my concept ended up winning."
The best thing about winning a contest early in your career is the much-needed boost of confidence. Confidence in your ideas, in the skills you learned, and most importantly, confidence in your future as a professional designer.
For Shumi, contest invites started to pour in, and her portfolio eventually caught the attention of an agency.
Just 6 months after starting her creative journey, Shumi signed as a junior designer for them.
"You could say that I had an unfair advantage with Martin, a seasoned pro, at my side. In one aspect, you’d be right—I was learning on my own, but he helped me to gain clarity in my priorities.”
“To succeed, I had to
- build and improve my portfolio
- understand the fundamentals of Design Theory,
- and combine Ps, Ai and Id whenever possible
Most people completely neglect Number 2 and 3. This was my unfair advantage.
"My (basic) knowledge in graphic design theory served me as my guiding light through all my projects."
Shumi is right—Design Theory is a compass for your choices. These ideas are simple, easy to comprehend, and will instinctively feel right.
Now imagine taking on any design contest, knowing that you will most likely be a finalist and your inbox will soon be full of invites and requests from potential future clients.
Imagine, as you prepare the project to present your concept for the first revision, you know in advance that it will blow them away. You know they will love it.
This is the level of confidence every designer dreams of having.
Confidence in your decisions, so you never have to go back and forth on your design or wait for "inspiration" to find you. With this level of confidence, you will never have the feeling that something is missing and you don’t know what it is.
Imagine that your work immediately shows: This was made by a PROFESSIONAL DESIGNER.
The 'missing half' of your Graphic Design knowledge
The untold truth I learned in 20+ years of teaching design is that the difference between pro and novice is not in the skills but in the CHOICES MADE.
With practice, your workflow improves, and you get faster. But what makes the big difference is the practical application of key design principles.
These principles affect your choices of color, contrast, the layout, the overall composition, and the type.
For most, this is the missing link. Many creative students I’ve met were simply unaware that they had a massive disadvantage in key Design Theory knowledge.
This is why I am creating the single most comprehensive 'Resource Library' / Course Series on Graphic Design Theory ever made.
It’s almost ready and will be released soon! You can subscribe to the waitlist at the bottom of these pages.
I also selected a few tutorials here I'd like you to look into while you wait. You will be introduced to some of the most empowering Design Theory concepts.
Please watch my first selection and then I will tell you what I mean by that.
When you think about these terms, they may feel familiar (i.e., color, contrast, visual balance, etc.), yet as a whole, it may feel intimidating.
The greatest benefit of understanding these concepts, including their effect on one another and the entire design, is that it is EMPOWERING.
Understanding Design Theory ignites your creativity. It works as a guiding light in every project you work on, and ultimately gives you the confidence to make effective, memorable and professional designs every single time.
For many students, Graphic Design Theory is the missing piece they need to become truly professional.
I want this 12-Course Theory series to serve as a basket of lightbulbs, lighting up new ideas in your mind as you progress along. It will help you redefine yourself as a designer, finding your unique signature style.
Click on the continue button to further explore the amazing language of Graphic Design.
We will start by learning about one of the most exciting subjects of Design Theory—color. By the end of page 2, you’ll view colors differently and start using them as part of a visual language to control the impression your design makes on its viewers.
Then we follow on with one of the most important Graphic Design principles, and talk about your transformation as a graphic designer.