Tips: Different Styles of Graphic Design

by Guest Writer

Every graphic designer specializes in one area that they prefer to work with over any other. However, almost every graphic design career will require you to be flexible with your abilities to work in a variety of areas. In fact, you'll be lucky to find a job that only wants what you do best. You may have tons of experience in photography and advertising, but then get assigned a job that includes animation, which you may have little to no experience in. Using your artistic skills in different forms can be difficult. This can be explained by having a different number of creativity options, or needing a different amount of details in your work. If someone has worked on logos for the majority of clients, then an animated presentation may leave the designer stuck in a new situation. How, then, can that designer convert their skills to match the requirements for the assignment given?

If you are working on a new style of graphics assignment, one of the easiest strategies to use is to use existing company designs or themes as a guideline. First, you need to find out what kind of business it is. Is that business professional, or does it have more of an entertainment background? This will help you decide what type of details you can put into the work. Then you look at their existing market structures such as a website, logo, slogan, or products and services. By looking at the company's website or logo, you can find out the color themes of the business. Knowing the slogan helps you by telling you what kind of impact the graphics are supposed to have on the audience; a fun sounding slogan will tell you that you'll want to use fun graphics. If the slogan is more mature or appealing to an adult, then you'll need to focus more on the professional look.. By knowing what kind of products and services are provided in the business, you are less likely to create an irrelevant graphic for your client.

These are all the basic elements you can use to help you start creating the graphics for your client, simply have your assigned job match the look of the graphic you used.

When given a new type of job, maybe it's making your less complicated designs just as detailed as the ones you're more adapt to. Say you made a poster for a store that advertises a new computer they've just added to their shelves. You have all the text you need and a picture, and the color theme is as good as it can get, but there's still that feeling that it's missing something. How do you add detail to a poster advertising a computer without distracting the viewers from the overall point of the picture? Add some more pictures, showing more of the computer's features such as the desktop, improved graphics, or pre-installed programs. After adding those images, give them a border that matches the color scheme of the poster, giving the pictures some emphasis. Put some interesting shapes in the background that don't conflict with the rest of the images to help the poster stand out in a crowd. It also helps to add shadows to any pictures without a border, or text headings. If you add these tiny details to a less complicated design, the difference in appearance and appeal could be mind-blowing if used correctly.

What about going from complex designs, to simple ones? This change was difficult for me to learn. For me, it's just easy to use the basic shape tools provided in most, if not all, graphics software, to come up with a simple image. Instead of making a large picture complete with shading and texture, I just create an incomplete one with text to replace the details. Sometimes, while a design may seem incomplete, it's really the design that would work better than the complete picture.

One of the toughest things you can face as a graphic designer is creating a graphic for a client looking for something in an area you are either uninterested in, or don't know anything about. This is when you look at your client's target audience rather than the subject. If your client's audience consists mainly of adults in a professional environment, then you go for a professional design that the audience can trust. However, if the target audience has children involved, add a little fun into the design, bright and colorful images usually work on children or an audience looking for entertainment. Some graphics don't really need any pictures, just text or shape formation to get an interesting and original design. Basically, you don't necessarily have to include items that are relevant to the business itself, just as long as the images aren't misleading. For example, it would be a bad idea to place a picture of a dog on the logo of a computer software company. When someone sees a logo like that, the first impression might be something like, "Do they make software for dogs? Why would they do that if dogs don't use computers?" or maybe something like, "What kind of business are they trying to be? They seem unsure of themselves." You always want to make sure you're sending out the message needed to get business in your client's company.

Most of the time, a web who specializes in non-motion pictures won't be given the job to create a flash animation or game if their resume showed no trace of experience in that area. However, it is always good to at least be prepared for the small chance that it may happen. If you've already practiced using flash software, and discovered that it just isn't something you can do. An alternative is to ask for just a fraction of the assignment that you are able to do while someone else does the animating; a partnership or collaboration. If your boss accepts, he or she may give you the job of adding special effects, creating backgrounds, or another background part of the job. If you haven't had the experience, it's always a good idea to test out your skills in that area so you can be prepared for that kind of event in the future. Who knows, you may have an undiscovered talent waiting for you to try it out.

What do you do if designing from scratch is your job, but you want to become a photographer? Usually, that's a tough change because most winning photos are taken of rare sights, or are hard to get at the same quality as they are when you see them in person. Here's the secret, unless it's a photo of a landscape or a family portrait, most photos are altered in unrealistic ways. For instance, you may have gotten a professional take a picture of you in a plain, one-color room. But when you receive your purchased photo, you find that the photographer had manipulated the picture to make it look like you were surrounded by trees, grass, and large rocks. When taking a picture of a landscape, the photographer usually has to alter the image slightly because of the faults in the camera (usually brightness, blur, contrast, and other small problems). So, basically, taking a photo takes almost just as much skill as drawing a picture. You just take what exists and put what you can together to create a new picture.

If you want to practice other areas of graphic design, the best way to start is to explore new styles. Instead of cartoons, try making more realistic designs or vice versa. Look at another artist's creations and look for the elements that made their pieces of work special or unique. I'm not suggesting that you copy their style, but rather the quality For example, if someone draws people, and they find that the anatomy is too "boxy", then by looking at someone else's drawings, they can discover where to put the curves on the person they're drawing. You can do the same thing in other areas of graphic design, getting ideas through the observation of another's work.

So those are the basics of being able to use as many graphic design types as you can. Through time and effort, making changes such as the ones mentioned above can come easily. Using these strategies, you can gain favor in an employer's eyes when showing them a resume' or portfolio of your work. All this can be helpful when you try to obtain a job. Hopefully my advice has been a help to you and you've figured out what exactly you would like to do.

Holly Krommenhoek

Holly Krommenhoek, the author, says all credits are based on experiences. She is an experienced designer who has done a 280 hour internship on graphic design.

27th Anniversary for DTG Magazine