In my early days as a designer, I learned a valuable lesson from a mentor about the "filigree" – the delicate details that elevate a design. These subtle nuances can transform a good design into an exceptional one. It's a lesson I've carried with me throughout my career and one I share with junior designers, emphasizing the significance of refining and perfecting every aspect of their work.
Since then, I've had the privilege of mentoring numerous junior graphic designers. These experiences have enriched me with valuable lessons about guiding designers’ growth, fostering creativity, and building their confidence.
One of the key lessons I've imparted to junior designers is the significance of understanding the client's needs.
When beginning your career, it's easy to get carried away with diving straight into creativity, but aligning your design with the client's vision is paramount for success and ultimately the client’s happiness. Researching the target audience, studying market trends, and brainstorming ideas are essential steps that contribute to a successful design.
Another challenge junior designers face is insecurity with their work.
Self-doubt leads to designers hesitating to share their work for fear of criticism. However, I've emphasized the importance of seeking early feedback. Constructive criticism is an invaluable tool for growth, and receiving it during the early stages of a project allows for necessary adjustments before it's too late. Encouraging designers to view feedback as a positive and constructive means to improve their work helps them develop resilience and adaptability.
To instill a culture of feedback within a team, it's crucial to foster a safe and supportive environment. Feedback should be seen as a collaborative effort to enhance creativity and achieve collective goals. Here are some strategies for creating this culture:
Emphasize the Importance of Feedback: Highlight how feedback leads to improved work and better results for the team.
Constructive Environment: Ensure that feedback is delivered constructively, focusing on areas for improvement rather than personal criticism and remind junior designers not to take feedback personally but instead to use it as a tool to refine their skills.
Mutual Feedback: Encourage designers to give and receive feedback amongst themselves, promoting a sense of teamwork and shared responsibility. Organize peer reviews and team meetings to provide regular opportunities for designers to share their work, give advice, and receive feedback.
Respect for All: Teach designers to respect all feedback, even if they disagree with it. Diverse perspectives can lead to innovative solutions.
I've always encouraged designers to understand the rationale behind design choices. Engaging in conversations with designers about their decisions, such as font selection or image usage, fosters a deeper understanding and respect for their creative process. Asking questions like "Why did you choose that font?" helps junior designers articulate their choices and receive feedback more effectively.
Acknowledging and celebrating each other's successes is equally important. Recognizing the positive impact of a colleague's work or the inspiration it brings not only boosts team morale but also strengthens working relationships. A culture of appreciation motivates designers to continually strive for excellence.
Laura Herrera is an Art Manager at Kongregate. She has two cats, Sombra and Romeo, and loves Karaoke!