Let’s talk about one of the most popular questions I get asked as a designer…
“How did you find your style?”
This is a super valid question — because when creatives have an established design style, it helps them feel like they’ve found their rightful place in their industry. It feels like home! To help you find your own little slice of home, I want to give you a few tips on how you can find your own brand design style.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about what a design style even is, and why it can be important to have.
A design style is your secret weapon as a creative. It’s your own special way of taking something and putting your mark on it. In more casual terms, a design style can also be defined as your “aesthetic”. Finding your unique style of creation can be one way that you can establish yourself and speak to your dream clients. For instance, if your style is clean and minimalist, then clients who want a more polished vibe for their branding will look at your portfolio and see exactly what they’re dreaming of — and voila, you may have landed yourself a dream client!
So let’s talk about how to determine your own design style. Like all creative methods, there’s not a step-by-step blueprint that I can give you, but here are a few things that helped me really define my own style.
Gather inspiration and notice what you like.
Maybe it’s too obvious, but one of the best ways to decide your unique style is to be aware of what you like about other designs. The best part about this tip is that it’s really easy to do! You can take mental notes while you’re scrolling on socials, which we all do a lot! When I come across brand reveal IG posts by other designers, I look through them and notice elements that I like, or perhaps even ways that I would have approached the design differently. That doesn’t mean that the original designer did it poorly, but that my own style may have created something different that’s more aligned to my vibe.
I would also strongly suggest keeping a collection of inspiration somewhere that you can easily go back to for reference. Pinterest boards are one of the best examples of this — I have a public Pinterest board of design inspiration (and another one for miscellaneous things that inspire me) that I am always clicking on when I feel stuck for ideas. You can keep a Saved folder on Instagram of brand designs that inspire you, or better yet, scour Pinterest for designs that look like something you might like to try, too! The more you observe, the more your creative gears can turn and start to get inspired to create something of your own.
Play a game of “this or that” with yourself.
If you want to super-simplify the overwhelming process of defining your style, just play a game of “this or that” to break the ice with yourself! What do I mean by this? Pair two opposite styles together and pick which one you feel more drawn to out of each pair. A few examples of this could be: “Neutrals or colors?” “Modern or vintage?” “Playful or elevated?” Though creativity doesn’t always work in binaries and there are plenty of ways where these “opposites” can merge, this can be a really easy starting point for you to express and identify your own preferences when it comes to design.
I even play this game with my clients in the brand discovery phase. This helps me get a better understanding of what they do and don’t resonate with, and I’m able to grasp their brand’s personality a lot better. Plus, it’s super engaging and fun for everyone involved! You might not even know your preferences until you make yourself write them out. This can help you decide what your overall “vibe” is and then you have a starting place to try it out!
Practice, practice, practice.
Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it does help you grow! The more you design, the easier you’ll be able to sort out what your style is or isn’t. This might even just happen naturally while you’re creating. Over time, you may start to develop a certain consistent style that you may not have even be conscious you were creating. But as you get more comfortable designing, it becomes easier to see the styles you lean towards.
It can be hard when you’re first starting out to explore because you don’t have any clients to design for. But I actually think the real gold mine of exploration happens when you’re able to do it freely without clients influencing your creative decisions. During my first few months of business, I would create passion projects all the time. Because I didn’t have clients yet, I had a ton of extra time to design for fun. Not only was I able to develop my style in the process, but it also bulked up my portfolio a ton, because I had all of these concepts sitting around.
All that being said, my advice is to create a TON. Create passion projects and give yourself the freedom to experiment and play around with different styles. Enjoy the messy, imperfect process of creating with no pressure.
One last piece of advice… just because you determine your design style at one point, that doesn’t mean you’re locked down to that style forever. As you continuously create, you’ll probably find yourself deviating from you “style” here and there. Sometimes project briefs may require you to go outside of your comfort zone, and sometimes you just get bored with the same-old and you’ll want to experiment! Even more importantly, our culture is always attaching and detaching to different trends. What you (and society) likes today may not be what you vibe with in a year. Stay flexible and allow your art to grow with you.
At the end of the day, there is no “right” way to design. You are the secret ingredient to your creativity! Your biggest strength is your originality. Nurture your authenticity and you’ll attract the right people.
TEMPLATE BY STUDIO ROMANTIQUES
© STUDIO ALEXIA 2023
Welcome to the Studio Alexia mailroom, where we send love letters on a regular basis. When you sign up, you're getting first dibs to any new offers, studio updates, design tips, and a little more joy added to your inbox.