How best to practice design?


New Member
Hi guys. I posted this already but for some reason it disappeared so here it is again.

Im an artworker currently but the work I do is pitifully boring. I want to go into a more creative production based job. I have a background in 3D art and video games which I did for 2+ years too. So I'm not necessarily a greenhorn with the tools but somewhat new to design.

I'm stuck on how to best practice this stuff. Do I make up design briefs for imaginary companies? Work on illustration techniques? Design websites? Design logo's? I'm so flustered by the options I just don't know where to begin.

I'm aware of courses on skillshare and Lynda and so on but other than following specific examples I'm unsure of what kind of stuff I should be attempting to put into a portfolio.

My goal is to work in house in my local area at a marketing agency or for a restaurant or bar chain in my city. Or as a freelancer for local small companies. I just can't decide on what kind of projects to pursue.

Thanks, to

Edit: mods I didn't see the awaiting approval message. Could you please delete my earlier entry. I apologize for the inconvenience.


New Member
Start on youtube. Fallow every tutorial, and when you feel confident with the programs like illustrator, create your own briefs, redesign existing companies.


Staff member
Couldn't agree less. Sign up for

There is a comp being run Adobe. Check out pur competitions forum.

Reason i agree is because people who post on you tube are not pros and promote bad habits.


New Member
Thanks, I will give Lynda another look. I have tried to use youtube but there is so much on there and lots of it is either above my head or amateurish if I dare use the word. I know how to learn independently and have done so multiple times but graphic design is a weird subject as it is so big and each area can be very deep and it is at the same time very specific yet very open and vague and subjective.

I'm glad I found this place as the last place I was at was a bit toxic.

Paul Murray

Staff member
Just start creating the sort of stuff you want to do. If you want to design logos, pick a name for a fictional business and start designing them a logo. Don't listen to all the articles about how a logo should 'represent the core values of a business' and this and that. Yes, you want your design to be lead by research, but I can't tell you the number of times I've heard designers admit that the amazing idea behind how a logo ties into a the history of business was actually an afterthought, or even something the client convinced themselves of in the pitch ("I like how the shape mimics the windows in lobby…" – Yes Mr Client, it certainly does!)

A logo is only as good as the branding and the business behind it.

If you want to design websites, well there's a whole host of other considerations before you even start with the visuals – site structure, hierarchy of elements, information architecture, UX best practices, colours, imagery, etc etc. Most designers can produce a website that looks nice, but a website is a functional thing, we interact with it, and you have to design around those interactions. This is something most designers don't understand or simply ignore.

Basically, just start doing the sort of work you want to do and eventually you'll either be doing it. Either that or you'll realise you actually want to be doing something else and you just repeat the process.


Staff member
Hey Aero and welcome to GDF! :D

As above really.

I do have experience of where you are right now as I was trained traditionally, took a break from design and then returned to find the design world was ruled by Mac's.
There were no online learning resources then so I bought a Blueberry iMac and I just set myself projects and built my skills and folio that way.

After a while I got a job at a printers as an artworker.
It was shite but I did learn a hell of a lot.
You'd be surprised how many "Designers" know nothing about artwork and setting up for print until you have to pick apart the rubbish they send you.
Artworking can suck if you lean towards design but it is a very good base that many Designers skip to their peril.
Think "Wax on...Wax off"

I then set to improving my folio and focusing it to the things I enjoyed doing which was illustration and after a while I got a job at a greetings/gift company designing products and illustrating card ranges.

It was quite a good job doing some cool stuff but I'm not a natural employee and I got bored of drawing teddy bears so I carried on focusing my work to what I enjoyed making and eventually started putting it out there and got my own site.

Out of the blue, people and companies started to contact me asking me to do similar stuff for them until I was at the point where I was working full time and freelancing as well.
I couldn't do both and I was sick of the sight of those f*cking teddy bears so I took the plunge and went freelance.

My goal is to work in house in my local area at a marketing agency or for a restaurant or bar chain in my city.
I've done a lot of work for bars and food chains and I quite enjoy it as the area has really embraced design and appreciates what a difference it makes.

As for learning software, I'd imagine that you know a fair bit if you are an artworker but when I moved over to Illustrator from Freehand I used as it's pretty cheap and you get a month free trial.

I've also been learning After Effects and I found there a lot of good sites to learn from with some great video tutorials.

When I need to find out how to do a specific thing then I go to Google and YouTube.
Yes there's some dross on there by twelve year old kids but also some fantastic resources put together by seasoned industry pro's.

I also visit a bunch of design portals for inspiration and Behance and Pinterest are also good.

In a nutshell.... Do and show the work you enjoy doing and it will attract those type of clients in time.


Staff member
I'm trying to get back into learning After Effects and going through some tut's to remind me of the basics when I stumbled on this.

It's a keynote from Andrew Kramer and although he works in motion graphics I thought it translated to design in general just the same.
If anyone with a spare 47:14 then it's most definitely worth a watch.

Thought I'd post it here as it seems pretty relevant.