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For the first time in decades, creative fields are finally getting the attention they deserve. Gone is the era dominated by industries that required mostly logic and shunned artistry. Today, computers can do almost every kind of logical process. The creative processes, however, are a different story.

This explains the sudden boom in the number of graphic designers, all trying to gain a strong footing in the market. Each of them have different areas of specialization. It all depends on what kind of output you want to produce. Do you think you have the acuity for logo-making, or are you the kind who would do quite well in web design?

Regardless of what kind of graphic designer you want to be, pure creativity just doesn’t cut it. There are quite a few characteristics that you need to have to make sure you’ll be effective in the role.

1. Good Communication Skills

Sure, it’s the designer’s job to send the client’s message across to the audience. This, the designer does, through his or her works of art. However, that’s not the only form of communication that the job requires.

Designers have to communicate with potential clients. It’s your job as a designer to set the parameters on what you can and cannot do. It is also your job to negotiate with clients, as well as close deals and give them updates about the project.

Without proper communication skills, there is a huge risk of confusion and miscommunication. This may put not only your work in jeopardy, but your credibility as a designer as well. This is why ideally, designers do not stay behind the desk all day. They have to go out and learn how to speak with people and build strong relationships with them.

2. Curiosity

Every creative person has a hint of curiosity somewhere. After all, creativity means trying out things that other have not tried before, and this has curiosity right at its core.

Curiosity is what makes a designer dabble in different styles and approaches. It is what makes them take a leap and try to do what no other designer has done. Lose the curiosity and you’ll end up with someone whose designs mimic everybody else’s.

3. Passion

Nope, it’s not just about the possibility of big bucks. Remember that the life of a designer does not guarantee success all the time, no matter how talented you are. The huge demand for graphic designers does not mean that you’ll have instant success, either. And when you’re down in the dumps and you’ve got nothing left, it’s your passion that will fuel you back into action.

Passion is knowing that there would be a few bumps in the road, but you would still be willing to go through it anyway. It’s hearing some criticism here and there, but taking it all as opportunities for improvement. It’s going through sleepless days and tiring nights, but not minding it because you know that at the end of all this, something great awaits.

4. Open-Mindedness

Every graphic designer has their own preferences, beliefs and perceptions when it comes to design. However, you can’t stick to this all the time. When you limit your design approach to what you want and what you currently know, you also limit your opportunities for earning and learning. You will always come across clients who want to try something different. Trends and standards will also change, leaving your own style possibly outdated in the near future.

If you don’t have an open mind, you’ll insist on your own approach. This may very well signal the end of your career.

5. Ability to Take Criticism Well

In any field, you’re bound to get a few negative comments here and there. Let your ego rule your mind and you’ll probably go crazy trying to go against every criticism you hear. Eventually, you would lose the opportunity to learn something out of the situation.

When you learn how to take criticism constructively, you also open up opportunities for learning and growth. Think about the negative comments. Do they have any basis? What made them say that? This is the perfect opportunity for you to review your work and find areas for improvement.

6. Good Problem Solving Abilities

You will always come across a few stumbling blocks in your design. These are especially common when you’re working with clients who want to do so much. How can you make it happen without sacrificing quality?

You may also come across issues with your tools and equipment, or have problems with the entire process by which a project is being managed. No matter where the issue may be stemming from, you have to make sure that you’ll know how to handle it and will be able to find the best solutions for it.

7. Humility

Yes, one of the biggest things that stand in anyone’s path towards success is ego. When you let your ego rule, you close your mind to other people’s opinions and suggestions. You end up blaming other people for your mistakes. You close your ears to criticism, no matter how solid the evidence is.

Humble people take everything in stride, and would accept all comments and suggestions with very little offense taken. This means that they are able to learn and grow as designers. This also makes them easier to get along with, a big plus especially when it comes to clients. Clients will see a designer’s humility as a sign that the designer is easier to work with. If anything, it’s your humility that would push all of your clients to listen more to you and give your opinions and suggestions more weight.

8. Patience

No matter how good you are at what you do, it’s not always going to be a perfect scenario. There will be clients that will be extremely difficult to deal with. They will haggle endlessly and will try to get the best end of the deal no matter what. There will also be clients who will try to get in your way as you work on the project. They will ask you for edits and demand for last-minute changes. You can’t always let clients abuse your kindness, but you can’t pick a fight with every difficult client, either. Patience gives you the ability to remain diplomatic, even in the face of the most difficult characters.

Patience will also be a good thing to have when you work with other designers. When you’re part of a team, there’s always a chance that you’ll al have opposing views. Patience is required if you want to stop and listen to other people’s suggestions. It is also helpful that you stay patient if other people are trying to shoot your ideas down. Yes, you can stand your ground, but in a nice way. It’s not being a pushover – it’s showing them that you can remain professional even when others around you have thrown all decency out the window.

9. Reliability

When you state a promise, make sure you follow through. It’s as simple as that. Remember that it takes such a long time to build a decent reputation in this field. Fail a client or two once or twice, and you can forget about your credibility in a matter of minutes.

This is why you have to make sure that you are reliable all the time. If you cannot work on a project, tell the client right away. If you think something needs to be changed, speak up. Saying yes all the time but not being able to deliver in the end speaks a lot not only about you as a designer, but about you as a person as well.

10. Adaptability

The design industry is every-growing, ever-changing. As trends come and go, your audiences’ style preferences evolve as well. If you are unable to adapt to these changes, then you also get left behind. One day, you’ll find your designs to be so outdated, no one would bother contracting your services anymore.

Make sure you stay updated with all trends and standards. This allows you to find pressure points and act on them right away. Do you find that an approach you’re not familiar with has taken over the design scene? Be ready to jump right in and start learning. Is there a new tool that’s threatening to replace the tool you’ve mastered over the years? Give it a try and see if it suits your style.

You may be the most creative person in the world. But your ideas mean nothing if you have none of these 10 characteristics that we have listed here. Remember that graphic design is not just about what your hands can do. It’s also about who you are as a person and how you deal with the people around you. It’s about how far you’re willing to stretch your mind and your talents. It’s about being able to leave your comfort zone, all for the sake of mastering your art. Lastly, it’s all about knowing what’s right and wrong, and standing by your integrity as a designer and as a human being.

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Posted by Igor Ovsyannykov

I'm a digital nomad and entrepreneur bouncing around South East Asia. When I'm not working here, I'm out taking photos. Follow me on Instagram: @igorovsyannykov

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