One of the keys to becoming an accomplished designer is the willingness to be open to criticism.
Whether you're working as a freelance designer or part of a creative team, learning from those around you and accepting advice in a critical fashion can pay off in the end — especially early on in your career.
I was lucky enough to learn from a few layout editors during my newspaper designing days, but there was one designer in particular who I leaned on when I needed another opinion, or a second set of eyes.
This person taught me — and many others — that "white space is your friend" when you're designing. If you notice a lot of my work today, the use of white space, or negative space is almost always incorporated.
To this day, I still seek out advice and look at work of others as inspiration. When you're a freelance designer on your own, often times, there's no other person to depend on to critique your finished product other than the client you're doing the work for.
Whether it's alignment, colours, typography or patterns, the first step for freelancers to have work critiqued is putting it out there for the Internet world to see.
It's important to trust yourself and believe that you've produced the best work you have to offer. However, here are a few additional steps you can take to get another opinion, if needed.
1. Share your work for the Internet world to see
We're so fortunate to live in a world where seeking an opinion from other designers — whether you know them on a personal level or not — is as easy as its ever been.
Message boards, Facebook groups and any other social media platform is a great way to share your work and seek advice. Of course, it takes a little courage to put your work out there in the first place, but do it in a trustworthy environment where you're certain you won't have to deal with trolls or negative people. If you do encounter an experience like this, ignore it and move on.
Posting a mockup or two in a Facebook design group can be helpful as well.
2. Follow and reach out to top designers
Since embarking on my Angelo Montilla Graphic Design journey, some people that I draw inspiration from range from Detroit's own Aaron Draplin to Futur founder Chris Do, to legendary designers and branding experts such as Michael Beirut and Brian Collins.
Explore social media and find some pieces of work from designers that may intrigue you. Listen to stories they may have experienced in the industry and most importantly, draw inspiration from their work. If you're connected with a designer that has a huge social following, reach out to him/her by sending a Facebook message or email. Sometimes you may receive a message back that will help make your creative process much easier.
3. Be (hance) yourself!
There's no better way for designers to share work than through a Behance portfolio. This is where you can build project views, appreciations of your work and keep track of followers in the industry.
It's also a community where designers can have work critiqued by other seasoned graphic designers and creatives. This is a great platform to use, especially if you have a composition that is experimental. Having a second set of eyes for another point of view is a great way of other critiquing your work.
Want me to critique your work? Send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will feature it on a future blog!