Design is everywhere.

To develop an eye for design you do not have to travel far. Whether you are sitting at your desk or using the creative world around you. No matter how big or how small, design will always be there.

What is design? Where does it come from? How can it be used to the best of its ability?

Much like beauty, design is also in the eye of the beholder which makes questions like these very difficult to answer. With artist and designers having their own unique way of finding their inspiration and ideas, there is never a right or wrong way. To develop an eye for design we must first understand the definition.

de·sign

dəˈzīn/

noun 

1. a plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is built or made.

2. purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.

verb

1. decide upon the look and functioning of (a building, garment, or other object), typically by making a detailed drawing of it.

2. do or plan (something) with a specific purpose or intention in mind.

One aspect of a great design is when it leaves a good first impression. Do you remember a time when you were walking through the grocery store and that one out of many cereal boxes caught your attention? While developing your eye for design you’ll notice first impressions are happening constantly.

Another aspect you’ll notice is organization and legibility. I don’t know about you but when I go to the optometrist, the first thing I notice is how badly designed those eye charts are. They are always so blurry and not legible at all. I can never read them!

When it comes to the information that is being portrayed, how easy is it to extract from the design? Multiple factors play a huge part, such as the style of font, maybe the size or color and even the visual hierarchy as well. It can be a good practice to not only take note of which designs are easy to read, but what exactly makes them easy to read as well.

Designers whether it’s graphic, interior or even architectural and more will have a good sense of their range. Learning to always make room for adjustments as they might see fit. Standing out in the context of other designs is important. In developing an eye for good design, it is good practice to view designs in a more contextual way.

We all have decisions. Big or small, decisions will always need to be made. Have you ever looked back at an old yearbook only to see your picture and wonder what were you thinking? I call those the blunder years. We all have them, and design can subconsciously play a huge role into those decisions.

Have you ever wondered why red is used in a lot of branding? Red is an attractive, energetic and powerful color. It’s used to grab your attention. Most fast food restaurants have Red in their logo to grab your attention and pull you towards their direction. One way to develop an eye for good design is to explore your living space and think about what kind of graphic designs have attracted you.

Often, clients go to designers wanting that trendy hip factor hoping it will help them stand out above the rest. When realistically it’s more important to communicate what their values are and who their target audience is. Having this information will allow the designer to show those values through their design.

Good design is not only to be concerned with the nature and appreciation of its beauty, but where the visual brand aligns with what the company is. If you want to see good design, you should experience what the company actually is. For example, when you go to a restaurant does the food live up to the expectations the logo presented? Maybe even the interior or exterior of the building will play a huge roll. It’s up to the designer to make sure it does.

One aspect of design that I love is the fact that it will always be changing and evolving. You will continue to learn and be inspired by new things. At least once a day and for some even multiple times a day. When you think about the history of design and what we see now you can’t help but get excited and motivated to start creating ideas of your own. Ideas that will help shape the future of design in all different aspects. I’ll touch more on the history of design in a later blog post.

The design process can be tricky when you are just starting. Here are some tips I use and believe will help sharpen your eye for design and get the creativity following.

1.Inspiration 

Inspiration will always be the first step in your creativity process. This is my favorite and the most important part when it comes to starting a new project. You will always need to be inspired by something or someone to create something amazing.

A great example would be music, it was 1979’s hit song “Good Times” by CHIC that inspired The Sugar Hill Gang to sample Nile Roger’s guitar riffs for “Rapper’s Delight” and 34 years later help inspire Daft Punk to summon the help of Nile Rogers for their album “Random Access Memories.”

No matter how original you might think it is, you will always be able to trace back the multiple levels of inspiration that helped create that design.

Inspiration can happen from anywhere and anytime. When you feel stuck and the creativity is not hitting you, browsing online is a great way to help get the creative process started.

With the right hashtags, Instagram is a great resource for inspiration. I am inspired by all sorts of design from interior design and graphic design to even entrepreneurs. There are other great social platforms such as Pinterest or even Google. Searching different phrases and keywords will help you find a lot of good resources.

2. Research 

Research is highly important. A great design will not happen until the research aspect has been accomplished. Looking up similar brands or styles will help you get a feel for things and will make the process of your design go much smoother. Remember element of design has a purpose and you should always be able to trace back what it was that helped inspire your creation.

Looking up the meaning of colors, definitions or a thesaurus are just some of the many ways it can greatly help you with your designs.

3. Execution 

You have your inspiration and you’ve done the research, now you’re ready to execute. Practice doing some quick concepts. Grab a pencil and some paper to sketch your layouts. Having multiple options always helps in case one does not work out the way you initially intended. Keep in mind these are rough sketches so it’s okay if you’re name is not Pablo Picasso!

Grab some coffee and listen to some music. I have no idea what I would do without Spotify. For me, nothing helps make the design process easier than listening to some music. Remember to take a break occasionally, and refuel. Working for a while without eating is just asking for bad design. Something I’m familiar with unfortunately but working on! You will make mistakes and that’s okay, that only means you’re trying. It’s how you learn and adapt from those mistakes that makes the difference.

4. Reflection 

Look back and reflect on your work. Think about what is was that inspired it and how you got to where you are now. Looking back can always help you with your work later. If you struggled during any of these steps, what was it that made you struggle? By taking the time to reflect will only help improve your pace and work out those kinks for the next project.

These are just a few ways that help me with my design process. Every designer is different and has their own way of doing things. As you continue sharpening your eye for design, you will pick up on what works for you and what doesn’t. Eventually molding your own design process and individuality from this huge creative world.

– Brian Garza | Graphic Designer | CuraMedia, LLC

What are some other ways that help you develop your eye for design? Leave a comment and share your story below! 

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