There are great Graphic Designers, and then there are ‘Design Influencers’, a nebulous and sometimes difficult to quantify term for top Creatives. But it’s a real thing, and I’m not referring to the influencers who have the most followers on their social media channels. I’m talking about the kind of designers that are quietly shifting the narrative, as ‘boots on the ground’ agents of change, figuring things out.
Design Influencers are Creatives that work in an environment where their work initiates new discussion and approaches to problem solving. And their solutions are so good that other designers take notice and follow. That’s the best way I can describe it, anyway. I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve been fortunate to work with some truly innovative designers over the years, and I’ve learned that the best Design Influencers are those who aren’t trying to be that. They’re just working through design challenges and as a result, raising the bar for everyone else.
Even though I can’t exactly pinpoint how one becomes a Design Influencer, I can point toward the components that warrant such a prestigious title:
- Know the fundamentals of good design before you start breaking the rules. Taking it a step further, know that you’re actually just creating new rules that not only make sense, but also are far more effective than what has come before. You’ll probably do this by accident, by the way; so don’t go looking to fix things that aren’t broken.
- Design Influencers are solving problems that no one realized existed. Forget the ‘out of the box’ approach to layout and graphics. These Uber-creatives are looking under the hood of the project brief and studying the entire business path of the client, gaining a larger perspective on what has worked for them in the past and what isn’t currently working.
- Awful design is everywhere. Take notice. Design Influencers recognize that the world is filled with design, but that doesn’t mean that they are out there on a quest to find the perfectly designed unicorn. This elite segment of the design population also studies bad design, which unfortunately is in no short supply. They learn from the design mistakes of others, and make efforts to avoid them in their own creative thought processes.
There are Design Influencers everywhere. Every time you browse through sites such as Behance, Dribble or Instagram (my personal top 3 go-to art sites), prepare to be bombarded by them. Thousands of designers and artists earn the title every day without even knowing it, because they already adhere to the above points I’ve made, plus one more really important thing: They don’t actually care about titles, only the end results.