25 tips for junior graphic designers


1. Find your strengths
There are so many avenues of Graphic Design; web, print, UX, UI, illustration, the list goes on. When you are learning take the time to explore each area to get an idea of what tasks you enjoy.

2. Apply it to an industry you care about
Graphic Design can be applied to any industry - fashion, homewares, jewellery, ceramics, music, film - just to name a few. Choose to work in an industry that inspires you.


3. Invest in creativity
You need to work the creativity muscle just like anything else. Paint, draw, write, listen to music, go the gallery, spend time looking at magazines, collect brochures and take photos to stay inspired.

4. Make it good, then make it great.
We all have high expectations of making something really really great, but sometimes that pressure can make us freeze. Make it good first, put all the elements you need on the page then tweak, polish and slowly make it better and better.

5. Duplicate your page or art board to compare changes.
It’s easier to flick between options to compare what is stronger rather than trying to remember how you felt about the previous design.

6. Listen to your gut instinct.
That first little voice that comes into your head. Not sure, doesn’t look right? Duplicate the design and try again. Don’t waste time flogging an idea that doesn’t feel right.

7. Always present designs on a concept sheet with a cover page.
It’s easier for the client to review multiple options and looks more professional that attaching 10 jpegs.

8. Version control
Always keep a back up of the working files previous version, often projects can take new directions and then realise that it was probably better off how it was in version 2 or 3.

9. Don’t take feedback personally.
You are not the value of your work. Relate all feedback back to the goals of the design piece.

10. Ask the right questions
It’s your responsibility to get a brief, not the client. Make a brief template for clients to complete and don’t start the project until you have enough information.

11. Nothing should be a surprise to the client.
Hold their hand along the way by showing them mood boards, mockups, ideas before the final artwork.

12. Keep within scope
Identify the number of revisions in a quote, then once the project exceeds this either create a new quote or charge hourly. Be clear with file naming which version is which and when you are on version three. e.g. Just letting you know there was three rounds of revisions in this quote and this is version three, I’m happy to continue tweaking but it will be charged additional to the original. Are you happy to proceed?

13. Lead with taste and grace
Clients are coming to you as the expert in the field. Advise them on what your recommendations are for the look and feel for the project but be open to their interpretation.

14. Have clear payment terms
We charge 50% upfront and 50% on completion. For larger or longer jobs we charge 30% upfront, 30% half way through and 40% on completion to ensure cash flow.

15. Costs should be transparent
Always ensure you have a clear agreement with the client on costs before commencing. The invoice should never be a surprise to the client.

16. Cash Flow
Have 7 days payment terms so you can start following up on payment sooner. After 2 weeks or one month people forget what day it is let alone they owe you money.


17. Invoices are admin, not attacks.
Don’t make chasing up money personal, address it just like an admin task that has to be completed. Hi Client, Just letting you know your invoice is now overdue. Please let me know when this will be finalised. I have re-attached it to this invoice for your convenience. Thanks. If this doesn’t work pick up the phone and just ask when it’s due to be paid on their add, in the same tone as you would as if you were asking for them to complete a task.

18. Time everything you do.
We use Harvest but there are lots of apps to help you. Understanding how long a task takes you empowers you to schedule work accurately, quote and compare if you are getting faster.

19. Get a mouse and use keyboard shortcuts.
Every click takes time, imagine taking every third one out! It could significantly help.

20. Create a bank of resources that will help you.
Social media icons, paper textures, line drawings, colour palettes - keep them all together so you don’t have to re-download the same assets from the internet every time.

21. Have an organised filing system.
We work with CLIENT NAME > DATE > WORKING FILES | ASSETS (provided from client) | DRAFTS | EXPORTED. There is nothing worst than spending 15minutes looking for that one image someone sent you in your inbox two weeks ago.

22. Back it up, back it up, back it up!
Invest in a back up systems - imagine loosing all your files! It could happen. We have a wireless apple box which we transfer our files onto on a weekly basis. We also use dropbox.

23. Create a network of people you can call on.
You can’t offer everything to everyone, pick your strengths and surround yourself with people that can offer those gaps. Marketing, PR, photography, app design, illustration - it takes a community to build an empire.

24. Invest in adding skills to your tool belt.
Not sure what area you want to go in - just keep building transferrable skills (video editing, photography, drawing, UX, animation etc). They will always come in handy later.

25. Enjoy the process!