What do good designers have in common?

UK_ww2_fashion_designerSomeone asked me to describe the characteristics that all good designers have in common but I couldn’t go beyond platitudes such as “good communication”, “highly skilled”, “professionalism” and “no baggage”. Subjective answers like those aren’t helpful because these apply to any work situation. Hard definitions and qualities that can be measured within this context are needed.

For example, it is obvious that experienced and professional designers are easier to work with because they have experience but what is it about their experience that makes it easy? And what experience? It’s not so easy to answer while steering clear of circular logic. It has also become increasingly more difficult to answer in an era of increased job competition and the plethora of design degrees.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could -based on your experience of working as support staff or as a supervisor- describe core competencies and characteristics shared by good designers as concretely and thoughtfully as you can. Thanks so much!
Image courtesy

Leave a Reply

20 Comments on "What do good designers have in common?"

11 months 7 days ago

I believe a good designer is someone who let’s their inner child be inspired by the world (ART). Then they design, sketch, pick fabrics, etc. with the outer adult (Commerce). Fashion is commercial art. Great designs meet somewhere in the middle in my opinion.

3 years 3 months ago

I would stay that good designers have drive and editing ability. Anyone can spit out a design on paper in a few minutes or draft a pattern in an hour or two, it seems to take a sort of stubborn focus to see things though successfully and understand why or why your design was not successful in the first place. If you can hear real criticism about your work and learn from it then you can edit and grow. Otherwise, you’ll go through 20-30 years of selling crap and wondering why no one wants to buy it. These are the most depressing people for me to deal with. Designers who are in their late 40s or 50s still waiting for their big break, but unwilling to hear feedback beyond themselves on how they need to grow. It’s as if they wasted their whole lives because they were unable to objectively see their work.

[…] following up with the first part, What do good designers have in common?, I’ve used your helpful comments and added a few of my own in an attempt to quantify concrete […]

3 years 3 months ago

Really appreciate all of the responses and the different perspectives. I have to admit a little “squee” for Sarah_H’s response. As a sales exec in my current life I act as a bridge between the customer and my company and I’m very aware of how important it is to be customer-centric, at the same time knowing how important the “back-end” is to the total customer experience.

3 years 3 months ago

Hmm… What a post! I think that a good designer must carry certain natural traits. As the above comments are all obvious answers that only scratch the surface. A good designer can work a specific task to the best of his or her ability. Every designer out there has experience in a specialized field of work. For example, you are going to hire a designer who is familiar with the type of work regarding your target audience. You wouldn’t so much want to hire a “Jack of all trades” kind of designer. Style is the utmost concern is finding the right designer. “If you’re corporate, choose a designer with a clean corporate aesthetic. If you’re going for an urban vibe (let’s say you’re starting the next great urban shoe craze), then choose a designer with an urban aesthetic.” [HT]

A great designer is fully functional. Has a portfolio, as well as a plethora of designs, showcasing his or her work and training. I don’t believe you must have a degree to be considered a good designer. I think your designs should speak for themselves. A good designer is always learning something new, whether it be in the form of school or past mistakes. I think that a designer learns something new with every design that is created. An amazing designer takes an original and graphic approach to work. A fantastic designer knows what will work and what won’t work at the right place and time. A terrific designer knows the competition and is always striving to bring something new and authentic. A designer should not become generic. A designer should be comprehensive and should never copy or steal another artists work.

If you are that good of a designer, people should be able to take one look at something you have created and know that it was you. That’s when I think you know that you’ve “made it”. There are so many elements to design I could probably talk about it forever. You must be able to make decisions and choose what you want to master. A designer must have a passion for design! Some designers cannot afford to go to college to maintain a degree. Some designers are self-taught and they learn on their own. Some designers have no experience so they have to create it for themselves!

A good designer is open-minded and works within a reasonable criteria.
-Can influence the audience in a given context
-Knows the when and the why
-Adaptable with a number of interfaces
-A problem solver
-Considers all available options

There are so many ways to look at it. This website explains the outlook differently than I do: http://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Fashion-Designer