I remembered when I first wanted to go into a design school. I didn’t even dare tell my parents. After 3 days in an engineering course, I told myself it didn’t feel right. I quitted school, forfeited 30% of my course fees and enrolled myself in a design school. My parents weren’t told after 6 months later.

Gone are the days where you need to grow up to be a doctor or an engineer, the youth no longer feel the need to live up to expectations and design is more respectable now than ever.

Getting into the design industry is not the hard part. To stay and to excel in it, is tougher. It takes more than just hard work and talent to make it in the design industry. You can always be mediocre but that’s not what this industry is about. It’s about passion. A person with passion for design will not do things halfway, it’ll show in your work if you put in that extra effort or you just want to finish the project. The latter will not succeed in the real world.

During my school days, I’ve known quite a number of people that took up design courses thinking that it’s all about coolness. Their perception of design is doing super cool graphics, cutting edge typography, photoshoot with sexy models, disco flyers, abstract posters, etc. All these probably takes up less than 10% of the design work available in the market. Disappointed, they eventually left the industry to pursue something totally irrelevant to design.

Look around you, all printed materials from black and white sales flyers handed out at road sides to 2nd hand cars’ classified ads found in yellowpages to a coffee-table book for sports giant Nike to an award winning shop display for LV. All these require designers to do. Of course if you want the best projects, be the best designer.

So how do you be the best designer? Foremost is interest. You’ll be more excited by art classes than any other subjects in your earlier schools. And you’ll probably try to do some of your own design pieces or drawings on your own free time. If you don’t have the passion for the subject, you’ll be wasting your own time. Famous designers live and die for design. They made it because design is in their blood. They don’t work a single day in their lives because they love their job. It’s as simple as that.

Designers need to have an open mind. They also need to be naturally inquisitive. That is because every project needs research. And some topics could be boring and some could be sensitive.You need to understand and solve your clients problem through design. Challenge conventions, experiment with new styles, mix and match influences from around the world. You can’t depend on old experiences and stick to defunct technology forever. Finding new interests is part and parcel of the job. The more information you have, the better the results will be. Designers also need to be well verse with techniques as well as technology. Different brief requires different ways of executions. Knowing only one style is limiting. Unless you’re famous for that style. But then again, people will only look you up if they think your style is suitable for their product.

Knowledge and learning. It brings new thoughts and ideas into life. Everything is interesting when you see it differently, in a new perspective. The subject doesn’t usually matters, most of the time, the meaning is always more important. Keeping up-to-date is also another important factor. Designers need to know what is happening around the world, what is the latest fashion, the most unique style or the most innovative inventions. In short, a good designer is a master of all trade.

When a design brief is given. The first thing to do is to understand the problem totally before trying to solve it. Think of all the possibilities before executing it. Explore all kinds of methods before presenting it. That way, any questions asked by your clients, I’m sure you’ll be able to answer. It is definitely easier to sell a design with depth than one that just look nice. Design with no idea doesn’t interact with people. All ideas come about through some sort of observation and recognising an idea in them from what you’ve observed (A bit of lateral thinking will be needed most of the time).

Coming up with ideas is a piece of cake. Anyone can do it. But a good one needs an open eye, an inquisitive mind, lots of hardwork, patience and a bit of luck.