A designers most valuable skill

Should you learn to code? Should you study 3D? What about copywriting? What about illustration? Or maybe lettering? Yes and no.

All these are great skills to have under your belt, but although useful, none of these are the most valuable skill to a designer. So what is? It’s…

…creative vision

“Wait what? That sounds like some hippie bs, man! I’m ’bout to close this window right now” Maybe… but it’s the tru-tru. Let me explain.

Skills can be developed. Pick up a Photoshop course and you’ll master it in a matter of months to a year. Join teamtreehouse and you’ll be coding HTML & CSS in no time. Pick up a brushpen and a few tutorials and you’ll be doing some solid custom lettering 6 months from now. Education in design has become accessible to anyone and new abilities can be mastered faster than ever, with a little effort and dedication.

On the other hand, tools and requirements change faster every day while technology evolves and new content consumption formats develop. In time, technology will make execution easier and faster. Software will become easier to learn and more intuitive and thus, learning curves will flatten out. In this world, everyone will be able to do almost anything with ease and the boundaries between separate fields of design will fade. In this world your most valuable ability, that can never be replaced by a machine or someone who didn’t need to spend years learning how to use a tool, is your vision – your ability to be creative, to come up with new concepts and to think outside the box. Don’t believe me? You’ve seen this already. I’m sure, at some point, you came across the portfolio of a creative professional with years of experience and a relatively broad set of skills but the work presented was mediocre at best. Why? Because his creative vision was lacking.

So how do you develop this mysterious vision I speak of? Theoretical lessons on design might help but the simple knowledge of a few rules and principles of design are just a first step. I believe there isn’t any course or a subject you could to study to develop your creative vision. The only thing that will, is your individual, personal, deep study of great design. Pickup a book. Browse trough awwwards galleries. Visit a museum. Sit and stare at a piece of work you greatly admire and try to understand how it came together. What principles did the creator have in mind? How did he or she implement them? What was the creative process? What was his or her school of taught?

I believe we, designers, get too caught up sometime with new tools, trends and gimmicks. These are all fine but not nearly as important as what is at the center of a designers purpose – creative vision.

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