Notes from our AMA Session with Gholahan T. Fawale at the Ingressive Community: Finding your niche as a Designer.

Finding your niche as a Designer is a somewhat delicate subject as most designers become overwhelmed trying to choose a path. Technology today is a very competitive that everyone is always striving to be the best they can else they become outdated.


It even becomes harder for us as creatives, trying to stand out, create a style or build a following for our work, it increasingly seems to appear unachievable because of the countless number of amazing talents all over the world, be it as a result of socio-economic background, exposure to technical training and experience or just innate talent of these great individuals.

In this fast paced industry of ours (Technology), we are all trying to get the best of it as we advance in our individual fields and respective career paths, it can be very overwhelming to pick a niche and focus. It even becomes harder for us as creatives, trying to stand out, create a style or build a following for our work, it increasingly seems to appear unachievable because of the countless number of amazing talents all over the world, be it as a result of socio-economic background, exposure to technical training and experience or just innate talent of these great individuals.

Different types of Designers

  • Graphic Designer

  • User Interface Designer

  • User Experience Designer

  • Illustrator

  • Interior Designer

  • Fashion Designer

  • Animator and Multimedia Designer

 

Yet every expert, professional seems to have something that makes their work stand out, recognisable amongst many others be it an artist, designer, developer, musician, sound producer and the rest of them.

What does this mean for us as designers? How can we hone our skills up to the level that we have our personal style, brand, voice and our work can easily be recognised, we become the go to person in our different chosen paths, an individual with domain knowledge and expertise? I will be highlighting some few tips that can help us on.

Learn as much as possible

This very first step is to gain as much foundational knowledge possible, this is what every other step and next stage of our careers will be built on. This can be achieved in different ways, from reading books,blogs,to buying courses online, attending workshops, trainings and meetups or even getting a formal training on design at a college or university if possible.

Quantity over quality

Yeah, this is a very common stage for many designers, experts recommend creating as much as possible to find your style not minding the final quality of the work or design. Here one will find repetitive patterns and trends in once work, also one would have learnt how to express one's creativity and personality into the work.

Always try to showcase and share your work/designs

Many of us try to shy away from showcasing that incomplete or not so good project or design we worked on because of the fear of criticism but remember one of the characteristics of being a good designer is being able to accept feedback and you are also a week, month, year better in experience than someone who hasn’t started at all. People are watching, following the progress of our work as we share them on social media sites and design portfolios, you might be surprised someone sends you a message for a small gig.

Every level of technical expertise as its level of equivalent compensation or value, so the more you create and share your designs you start to attract value, people will compensate based on your current level of experience. Don't wait till you become an expert, before you start sharing your designs and building your portfolio, there is no such thing as an expert, learning continues everyday throughout our careers.

Write blogs

Sharing and writing about your progress, findings, mistakes and solutions your found while working on your projects also helps, they say writing helps to give more clarity and understanding of whatever it is your write about. There are also beginners who will find your articles useful, it doesn’t always have to be very  technical.

Writing also establishes you as an experienced designer , that is how people can actually have an idea of how you approach your designs. Inspire someone today!

Sidenotes

My first post about figma in 2017 has about 2k plus views and 1.5k reads to be precise and also ranks 2nd on google when you search for things related to using figma offline, it was just something i discovered then out of curiosity and wrote about, apparently the stats shows that people esp beginners have actually being searching for ways to use figma offline.

Link below
https://medium.com/owerritechgroup/using-figma-offline-well-not-totally-8899757243e4

Work on side projects

The importance of this can’t be overemphasized, it is very easy to get caught up in office work or whatever pays the bills and not have time to try out or channel these ideas or concepts we have into design projects, you know the work that pays the bills is also important but could sometimes limit our creativity.This brings me to my next point.

Work on projects that you love

One of the ways we can truly identify with ourselves and personality is to work on projects/ideas that we truly love or find interesting, projects that gives us the freedom to try out different styles or do something unconventional.

Your Illustration/Graphic style doesn’t need to be excellent; it needs to be original. - Johny Vino

Work and try challenging designs

Another way to find  a niche is to try hard or challenging designs to work on, there will be a lot of learning and mistakes which can lead to mastery, once mastery has be achieved one becomes an expert  in that skill or design style.

Specific knowledge is knowledge that you cannot be trained for , if the society can train you, it can train someone else, and replace you - Naval

When we work on challenging designs or concepts we acquire specific knowledge which can make us one of the most sought after persons in the skill.

Pick One

After exploring different styles and ideas

Check out

UI Engineer, Daina A Smith  http://diana-adrianne.com/
Find a mentor if possible
It could either be someone who you just like their style, look up to or even want to emulate. They don't have to know you in person.Study the great and become greater.”

Most designers belong to at least one category mentioned above, you can focus one(probably pays the bills) while you explore another (passion) and try different styles, this way we can have freedom to create portfolios of work that might not necessarily have an instant/immediate financial benefit and compensation but that which is truly out of our most innate abilities and creativity.

Check out

Baugasm on instagram, Johny Vino on behance and dribble

Teams & organisations such unfold, ramotion, etc

 Advantages to having and finding your niche:

  • It helps you define your brand and what you are known for

  • Finding and focusing on a niche helps stand out and leads to faster mastery of the skill/style.

  • Easier to get clients

  • You become a  “go-to” person in that skill.

  • It helps on lead a life of inspiration to others

Side Notes

We all seek inspiration from each others work but we all have different ways of interpreting things that we like in these works we seek inspiration from.

Everyone Is Born An Artist, the problem is how to remain one once we grow up - Pablo Picasso. I have heard several people think one has to be an artist or should be able to draw before one can get into design.

Observe what is working, and what's not working then apply it to your work.

Hard Work beats talent

Feel free to reach out to me personally if you have or need more clarifications, guidance or just want to share ideas.

Thanks