The coming of a new year is a great time to take stock of our professional lives, pat ourselves on the back for work well done, and resolve to do even better next year. It is also the perfect time to reflect on our work habits and notice where we get stuck, lazy, or reluctant to explore opportunities to improve as designers, and as people. Here is my list of twelve resolutions to keep growing as designers and lovers of type.
I shall take more time for font explorations. Many designers rush the process of selecting fonts for a project, wanting to hurry it up to get to the “fun” part, which is the actual design. But choosing the right fonts is often the major factor in achieving a design that works, makes sense, and is appropriate for both the client and the audience. Don’t fret or get impatient if you spend hours searching for just the right fonts, as this time well spent will make the process of creating a successful design that much shorter and easier. Sometimes a project will almost “design itself” with the rights typefaces!
I shall be sure to purchase any new fonts, and not borrow them. This all-to-common bad habit is both illegal and unethical. It robs the designer (often via the foundry or font reseller) of their due royalties. Typefaces are created by living, breathing people who spend weeks, months, and sometimes years working on a typeface. Typeface design is a labor of love, and the skill itself takes many years to acquire. If you don’t pay for the fonts you need, you are virtually stealing money (in the form of royalties) out of the pockets of the people who designed them! If you want to support the continual design and availability of fresh, new, professional-quality fonts, then allow those who create them to get paid for their work.
I shall sign up for font foundry and reseller e-newsletters in order to stay abreast of what is new and what is trending in type design and font technology. Typefaces – especially display designs – are fashion-based to a certain degree, and you owe it to yourself as a designer, as well as your clients and audience, to stay current. You don’t want today’s work to look dated before its time. Here are several to get you started:
Fonts.com (scroll to bottom)
Font Bureau Type Network
P22 (click on REGISTER)
I shall take the time to review all final work carefully. This includes checking for typos (even if this is not your job), avoiding type crimes such as using dumb quotes, apostrophes, and double word spaces after periods, as well as finessing every detail such as vertical and horizontal alignment, kerning, using appropriate fonts, and a lot more. The devil is in the details, so take the time to get them right for the best, and most professional outcome. Here is a checklist to make it easy to do this; use one for each and every job.
I shall join at least one type, design, or other related organization. Stay connected to other creative professionals and attend more events – even those in related industries such as paper companies and printing methods. This will help you to stay up-to-date on current styles, trends, and methods. It can also serve as a continual source of inspiration. Some of the major organizations and conferences are TDC, AIGA, SPD, Society of Scribes, ATypI, and TypeCon.
I shall explore at least one new type- or design-related skill to improve my skills, or learn new ones. It can be web design, ebook production, hand lettering, even typeface design. You don’t have to become an expert, but developing a deeper appreciation of other skills will give you a better understanding of the big picture, and make it easier to communicate with others who are part of your creative team.
I shall take at least one class, workshop, or online webinar to expand my knowledge base. Whether it’s for learning about web fonts, how to use all the type-related feature of the software you use, or creating your or a client’s brand – stay engaged. There are countless resources to do this no matter where you live, some available any time of the day or night. Two such resources are Creativelive.com and Lynda.com.
I shall make sure my business card and resume are up-to-date, and look appropriate for my level of experience. You should always have a well-designed business card on hand, and give it out freely. As for your resume, even if you are not actively looking for a job, you never know when someone from a fantastic studio or company will ask for it at a personal or professional event, or even just chatting it up with someone you meet randomly. I recommend reading How Good Typography Can Help Your Job Search before updating either of these.
I shall stay in touch with other designers and type-lovers, whether they be colleagues, former coworkers, instructors, or fellow students. You never know who is leaving or looking to hire. It is equally important to just have other creative professionals and type-lovers to share your work, ideas, and skills with.
I shall try new ideas and explore new concepts, instead of relying on the old “tried and true” solutions. It is easy to use the same design approach, tricks, and problem-solvers, especially when they have worked in the past. But this can lead to work that becomes stale, predictable, and eventually, dated. Be courageous and try something different. Taking chances can expand your work in fresh, new directions, not to mention keeping you excited about your work. Even if you don’t succeed at first, keep at it, and you will become a better designer, and have more fun to boot!
I shall not settle for anything less than my absolute best. We all have that inner voice that tells us when a job doesn’t look or feel just right, as well as that inner knowing when everything comes together and works the way we want it to – that “aha” moment. Listen to that voice, whether it means spending more time making small adjustments, or totally letting go of a concept you fell in love with but is not working, and starting anew. You owe it to yourself as well as to your clients and employers to work to your fullest potential.
What are your creative resolutions for 2017? Let us know in the comments!Tags