As the world of graphic design constantly changes, it can be difficult to keep up to date with the newest design trends. And it’s not just the latest visual styles you have to worry about — even the current tools and software you are using might not be as useful a few months down the road.
As a freelance graphic designer it’s easy to fall into a set routine and rest on your laurels as time goes by. Such a mindset could hinder your long term success as your skills become outdated, resulting in lesser clients seeking your services. Rather than being content with what you have now, you should regularly keep up with design trends and update your skills in order to stay ahead of the industry. Fortunately, there are many ways to get your daily dose of creative inspiration, and it’s up to you to choose the ones that work best for you.
The internet is the fastest method to keep up with design trends, with many resources available at the click of a mouse.
Adobe’s own Behance features the latest work from top creative professionals. With Adobe being the forefront of graphic design software, Behance should be the first place you go to for the latest in design trends.
Similar to Behance, Dribbble allows you to connect with a wide community of designers, and is the go-to resource for inspiration.
Designspiration curates high-quality designs from around the world — all in just one page.
Baubauhaus is here to visually inspire and entertain you with the best and newest designs.
From Up North is an online magazine that brings you the best and latest news from the design industry, while showcasing amazing creatives across the globe.
Print is an iconic design and visual culture brand that covers everything from design theory to arts and culture.
Aisle One features some of the best articles on design, typography, minimalism and modernism.
Abduzeedo is a popular blog that not only brings you the latest in design trends, but also tutorials to brush up your skills.
I Love Typography, as you can tell from the name, shows off the latest typefaces, with a few history lessons thrown in.
FORUM & ONLINE DISCUSSIONS
Besides design galleries, magazine and blogs, you should also be proactive in keeping up with design trends. By exchanging knowledge, ideas and opinions with others in your field, you will be able to stay ahead of the design curve — and one step ahead of your competition.
LinkedIn Groups is a great place to discover like-minded professionals and connect with fellow designers. For a start, take a look at Creative Design Pros – Designers Forum, a community of professional designers of varying backgrounds with a focus on networking and getting advice on marketing, branding and growing design businesses.
Reddit is popular among graphic designers, with subreddits such as r/graphic_design. The subreddit also has an IRC chat so you can join in the discussion anytime.
Graphic Design Forum is one of the oldest and biggest forums for graphic designers, and definitely worth checking out.
Many of the best graphic designers are on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. As such, you can keep up with the latest trends in your field simply by giving them a follow. Some notable Twitter recommendations include Jessica Walsh, Anthony Calixto and Chuck Anderson.
Although there are many online resources available, it’s not really an enjoyable social experience if you interact through a computer screen all day. Instead, get involved in the local community and connect with graphic designers in your area. Don’t be a hermit. By building a strong network you make it easier to share inspiration and resources with your peers and level up as a community.
A design museum is one of the best places to get your creativity flowing and explore the latest in design trends. Consider adding a trip to a design museum as part of your vacation plans, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Gallery of Australian Design in Canberra, and the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
Oftentimes there are workshops and seminars offered to graphic designers, allowing you to improve your skills and gain valuable knowledge from industry leaders. Google is your best friend here — simply search and register for these design events with a click of a mouse.
Learning is a lifelong journey for a graphic designer. Whether you are self-taught or have a degree there’s always something new to learn, so consider enrolling in continuing education courses in your community college or art school.
If that isn’t an affordable option, you can still find a lot of inspiration and knowledge through design and business books at your local library — the more you read, the more you know.
WHY SHOULD I KEEP UP WITH DESIGN TRENDS?
You might think that being a graphic designer is about following your creativity and not caring about design trends. After all, by being completely different you are bound to attract a niche market.
However, you have to realize that you are designing for your clients, and their perceptions on what looks good are often influenced by design trends. Consequently they will likely choose a graphic designer capable of creating trendy designs, as opposed to one who views Comic Sans as a form of expression. Remember, design is about satisfying your client’s needs as well.
Even if you are confident in your skills and looking to establish a new trend, you still need to know what’s currently in vogue. And adding to that, you have to convince people to buy into the trend. It’s definitely possible to sway public opinion by being different, but you will need to put in a lot of work to be successful.
At the same time, it doesn’t mean that you follow design trends blindly and stop being creative. By creating the same designs as everyone else, your services will become less competitive in the mass market.
In the end, one of the best approaches to improving as a graphic designer is to keep up with design trends by having an open mind and learning from others, while innovating in moderation.