Besides passion, what makes a good graphic designer truly great?
By Ram Castillo
Besides passion, what makes a good graphic designer truly great?
By Ram Castillo
Besides passion, what makes a good graphic designer truly great?
By Ram Castillo

Besides passion, what makes a good graphic designer truly great?

Tweet your questions about how to land your dream design job—or just how to get your foot in the door—to our resident career expert @thegiantthinker. We’ll publish his answers here each month and keep the conversation going on Twitter @AIGAdesign.

Besides passion and understanding, what does it take to be a fantastic graphic designer these days?—@Jodisdesign

When we look at any high performer, words like “exceptional,” “phenomenal,” and “impressive“ come to mind (especially when listening to sports commentary). Here’s another: “outstanding.”

If we break that word apart and switch it around, we can express the meaning as “standing out.” What does it mean to stand out? In context, to stand out is to be amongst the very best. When we think about high performers, they do things most people can’t or don’t, and it’s certainly the result of a collection of attributes.

Here’s a list of 8 practical qualities to keep top of mind on your endeavor to reach that next level:

1. A willingness to listen.

2. A willingness to collaborate.

3. A willingness to take any type of criticism and respond professionally and productively.

4. The ability to pinpoint relevance and use that to inform design decisions.

5. The ability to leverage technology to add substance to design solutions (not just implementing it for the sake of it).

6. The ability to design for real people and real conversations.

7. An awareness of cultural sensitivities.

8. A maturity in balancing design decisions and business decisions (design is a service, after all, and sometimes we can forget that).

There are multiple ways to accelerate your path from good to great and from great to fantastic. As a designer, I’ve found the best way is to have a few mentors whose work and values are in line with your own, and whose careers are full of “clues” that can help you learn at a rapid rate. Constantly ask questions, no matter how silly they may sound. The answers will dismiss assumptions and bring you immediate clarity.

Lastly, remember that those who are praised in public have spent years practicing their craft in private. So be tenacious and persistent on your pursuit—and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

For more, pick up a copy of Ram Castillo’s internationally and industry-acclaimed book How to Get a Job as a Designer, Guaranteed.

Tags Inspiration professional development Article advice Design Job Series