Guest post by Del Mauricio
3 Design Principles That Advanced
My Creative Skills
At some point in our careers, we designers stumble across a piece of extraordinary design that makes us question our own creative skills. This clever design, where every element serves a clear purpose and collectively orchestrates a beautiful composition, makes us wonder if we will ever produce such a high level of creative work. Fortunately, the answer is yes! But how exactly is this masterful design achieved? Does it take decades of practice? Does it require studying design trends? Does it require attending conferences? Not necessarily.
Practice, experience, and observing trends will polish your design skills over time, but if you simply remember to implement three basic design principles, then you will propel your creative technique and begin crafting aesthetically pleasing designs. In my experience working as a graphic designer for over ten years, I have found three design principles that substantially advance my creative abilities and guide me in producing that smart and harmonious design we all want to achieve.
These principles are certainly not a secret. In fact, they are taught to most designers in college. However, because they are so elementary, they are often overlooked by some designers. Working with many distinct designers over the years, I frequently came across the same design mistakes. The outcome was usually amateur and unintelligible design. So I decided to study both good and bad designs alongside. It is then that I discovered common problems in the poor designs, and identified the design fundamentals that would solve those issues by evaluating the good designs. Therefore, these findings can help many emerging and existing designers improve their design skills.
Simply put, white space is the portion of any composition left blank which includes the space in between objects and background. White space is an active element in any good design. It can be applied to any artistic design, whether it is graphic, web, visual, or digital. The problem often is that some designers confuse designing with adding. They use small margins to maximize the workspace and then crowd it with text and graphics. This produces designs that are busy, hard to read, and not visually engaging.
To create design that captivates an audience, designers must recognize the importance of white space. Remember that designing is not about filling up every inch of available space; it is about editing, adding purposefully, and utilizing white space smartly to allow design elements to stand out and deliver a clear message. The goal is to use white space sufficiently and efficiently so that too much of it does not turn into wasted space or too little of it clutters the workspace. When used well it creates balance, boosts legibility and readability, and promotes unity – all qualities of masterful design.
An acronym for “Keep It Simple Stupid,” and it serves as a reminder to find the simplest solution. It can be applied to several practices, including design. Simplicity makes design timeless, attractive, engaging, and consumable. Similarly to white space, it reminds designers to add purposefully, but in a sense that each design element should have a purpose in the composition. Designers should not insert excruciating and unnecessary details that clutter the design. The primary task of designers is to organize graphics, shapes, and text to effectively communicate messages. If an element does not add value, then remove it. Spend some time planning your design and use only what is necessary and simplest. It will save you time and energy as well as make you a more efficient designer.
The use of grids has been popular since the early days of cave drawings and writing. In design, the grid is a framework composed of invisible horizontal and vertical lines that guides designers in the positioning and organization of design elements in a layout, whether it’s digitally or in print. While using a grid is not a mandatory requirement for creating successful layouts, understanding grid theory and its benefits helps designers produce more efficient and accessible compositions. In fact, the best designs are those that use grid theory as a guide rather than a restriction. Study examples of grid theory such as the Swiss Grid System, the Rule of Thirds, and the Golden Ratio. Comprehending and applying grid theory will greatly enhance your layout skills and give your designs a more modern and refined aesthetic.
Once you understand how influential these three fundamentals are and practice incorporating them into your work, you will quickly begin to notice a significant improvement in your design output. Experiment with them and interpret their significance in a manner that best complements your artistic prowess. Most importantly, appreciate their intrinsic value and contribution to design aesthetics.
Del Mauricio is CEO/Owner of Aesthetic Philosophies, a marketing and graphic design company that specializes in developing brand identities and marketing communications. Del has over ten years of experience helping diverse businesses build stronger and more engaging brand experiences. He joins us with expertise in branding, graphic design, marketing, and advertising.
Twitter: @aesphi, @delhmauricio