8 Ways for Designers to Cultivate Lifelong Learning

It’s no secret that the world of design is constantly changing. What's in today can be out six months down the road. As designers, we possess a natural curiosity of the unknown. It's this innate curiosity that drives us to continue to learn and grow within our field. Whether you are new to design or a veteran in the field, committing to a life of continual learning is crucial to your relevancy within the design world.

Committing to a life of continual learning is crucial to your relevancy within the design world.

1. Become a Sponge

Soak up everything. Travel, read books on design, attend conferences and talk to others in your field (or outside of your field). Study, research and explore. There are countless resources out there that can inspire you to grow and challenge you to think in ways that you haven’t before. Feed your curiosity by observing and listening to the things that happen around you. Inspiration and knowledge can come from the smallest, most insignificant event, but the effect can be monumental.

2. Collect and Hoard

Start by collecting pieces of design that inspire you or make you stop and think. Save these somewhere. Where you save them is up to you. Create boards on Pinterest or save images to a thumb drive. Don’t limit your collection to digital works. Save that cool postcard that came in the mail, a unique business card you picked up at a conference or even a photo that you thought was awesome. When you are stuck, revisit your collection and learn from the designs of others. Is there a style that stands out? Try imitating it. Expand the design process and create something entirely new.

3. Growth is Good

Without learning, growth will never come. Just as the world of design is constantly evolving, as a designer you must evolve as well. Growth is good. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but learn from the times that you were wrong. When you cultivate a life of learning, you are tapping into a source of endless growth. Anyone who claims to know everything is lying. Treat each day as an opportunity to learn something new. Carve out at least 15 minutes of learning time daily.

You’ll make mistakes along the way, but learn from the times that you were wrong.

4. Learn from Others

Learning isn’t just about hitting the books. Learn by connecting with other design professionals and sharing ideas, skills and techniques. Sign up for MeetUp and get to know other designers in your area. Join a ddesign-centered Facebook group.Never underestimate the importance of having a mentor and being a mentor to other designers. Some of our best ideas come from interactions with others. We all have unique experiences that others may never have a chance to have. Share these experiences and learn from others.

5. Learn by Doing

The phrase practice makes perfect is not far off. While perfection in design is unobtainable, practice will take you places. Make up design projects (or use existing briefs). Practice new techniques and put your work out there. Design something. Now do it again, but change three things. Keep doing this and watch how your designs are transformed.

6. Focus on Professional Development

So you’ve landed that awesome design job that you really wanted. Now what? Think about other skills that can help you do that job better. Make a list and go develop those skills. Being a designer is great, but being a designer who can write is even better. Brush up on your marketing skills, or learn a new area of design that has piqued your interest. Utilize sources like SkillShare, Code Academy or Lynda.com to develop your professional skills that can lead your career down paths that were previously not an option.

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Spend time each day developing new skills in areas that interest you

7. Don’t Fight Change

Be open to change. Having a closed mind will make learning new skills nearly impossible. You get out just as much as you put in when it comes to learning. You have a passion—harness that to learn new concepts, techniques, and specialties. Don’t limit yourself because you fear change.

8. Embrace The Happy

Happiness and lifelong learning go hand in hand. When you are happy, you are more open to learning new things and vice versa. 

Conclusion

Lifelong learning is a big part of being a designer. It doesn’t end with a degree in design or a job in your field. Continual learning moves our careers forward and feeds that natural thirst for knowledge that is within all of us.