Armin Vit is an experienced, talented graphic designer who has spent years working his way to thought leader status. Today, he is most well-known for his blog, Under Consideration, and the Brand New design conference. For better or worse, he has become more well known as a design critic than as a designer, but he still has the design chops to back up his critiques.
Recently, Josh Miles sat down with Armin for an episode of Obsessed With Design. During this episode, they discussed Armin’s upbringing, how he got started in design, and what an average day looks like for him as he runs a blog and multiple conferences. The most actionable part of the discussion, however, was Armin’s advice for young designers.
You can listen to our full interview with Armin Vit and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.
During our interview, Armin wanted to share his best advice with young and aspiring designers who may be listening. As someone who worked extremely hard to improve his design skills growing up, Armin wanted to lessen the learning curve for our listeners. Here is Armin Vit’s advice on how young designers can improve their design skills.
Armin Vit isn’t just a critic, he’s also a teacher, and one of the things he likes to emphasize to all of his early design students is the importance of humility and self-awareness. You can’t improve weaknesses that you don’t know you have, so it’s important to remain humble and keep an honest eye on your professional development.
“Right now you suck,” Armin said. “Eventually, you’ll suck a little less if you just keep practicing. Practice is everything.”
In addition to the self-awareness to know what aspects of your skill set need work, it’s important to put in the time it takes to get better. During his interview, Armin likens it to perfecting a sport like basketball.
“A basketball player has to go out and shoot a thousand free throws before they get to a high free throw percentage,” Armin explained.
Not only do you need to be practicing, however, but you need to set realistic expectations. Too many designers sweat perfection, and while a keen eye to details is important, it’s not realistic to expect every project to be as polished as you ideally want.
“It’s not always going to be 100 percent great,” Armin said, “But if you can hit 70 or 80 percent of something good, then that’s pretty great.”
Finally, if you want to cut your professional development timeline in half, you have to work twice as much. Not all of your improvement will come from client work. In fact, Armin believes that a lot of progress comes from spec projects and side projects.
Throughout our interview, he decried the value of side projects while deriding designers who look down on side projects. “That’s how you practice.”
Unlike client work, spec projects allow designers the freedom to try things that they may not be willing to try otherwise. “They’re saying ‘If I had a chance, if I had no restrictions, this is what I’d do,’ ” Armin said. “It might be great, they it be terrible, but just going through that exercise is what allows you to then develop an approach that you can apply to actual client work.”
To Armin Vit, the best advice that he can give to young designers is get out and practice, however you can, whenever you can. That’s the key to improving your design skills.
To listen to this cast and hear interviews with the design industry’s brightest minds, subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.