It can feel impossible to get to the next stage of your design career when tools, trends, and in-demand skill sets are changing every day. So what does it take to get your foot in the door?
At a recent Editor X and Dribbble event, "How to grow as a digital creator," we spoke with a panel of experts about how designers can navigate the industry in years ahead. Here’s what you can do right now to progress your design career, according to Editor X's head of design Rinat Sherzer, Pentagram's Talia Cotton, and freelance consultant Brad Hussey.
1. Decide whether to specialize
Whether you choose a particular design focus or aim for experience across specialties depends on the type of career you want to have.
Hiring managers at agencies or brands look to build teams with complementary disciplines. According to head of design at Editor X, Rinat Sherzer, and Pentagram lead designer and coder Talia Cotton, both of whom have also instructed at Parsons, specialist skills such as coding, 3D modeling, animation or illustration can give you an edge.
It’s a different story for freelancers. According to Brad Hussey, who helps freelance designers and entrepreneurs develop their businesses, being a design generalist gives you more flexibility and allows you to coordinate with colleagues and clients across disciplines.
2. Make your passion a selling point
The design world is constantly evolving. With all the sectors, specialties, emerging technologies and trends, choosing a path can be overwhelming. It can be tempting to fit your design practice to what it seems like others in the design field want.
But don’t force yourself in a certain direction, Cotton says. That area you’re most passionate about—that makes you tick as a designer—is where you’ll bring the most value.
“Just be yourself,” she adds, “but be yourself in a way that looks like the 100% version of yourself to everyone else. Then people, and teams, will see you and pick you up.”