Have you ever thought of yourself in this way?
This is a post about something I’ve wanted to write about forever.
I’ve been working as a UX designer for nearly 5 years. I mostly worked in small teams and did UI design as needed. It was mainly in startups where I did something like this:
As I don’t have any professional education in design except for several online courses, half a year ago I began to realize, not for the first time, of course, that I needed to improve my visual skills. For years I’d been looking at cool shots on Dribble and although I believed my level was really far from theirs I thought I it was high time to start doing at least something.
My lazy challenge
When I talked to experienced designers they suggested I should create the whole design concept from the idea to the final presentation. It appeared to be taking a huge amount of time and energy as it would involve a long period of making a decision, defining the idea, then doing some research, getting deeper into the idea while implementing it in mockups, but what really demotivated me was:
- all that time was unpaid and the work could have turned out to be useless
- as a UX designer I used to spend most of the time on searching product solutions but much less on the visual part
As an alternative, I decided to draw fast replicas of the shots I liked. I was planning to do it for 45 min 6 days a week before going to bed, during the whole month and see what would happen. After a while I started skipping days and at the end of the month I found out that I had really been working 14 days. After that I decided to take a break . Here are some results:
During my work I found some details which I either hadn’t noticed or didn’t know about:
As a result
It was enjoyable and extremely involving. I started from the simplest shots and then moved on to more difficult ones. I have never thought it takes only one hour to make a copy of design by top 1 Design Studio on Dribble.
Sometimes I hear that copying other designers’ work is for beginners or cheaters: there are lots of designers’ accounts with stolen works. Both connotations are rather negative. However, I have often heard from different clients: “Let’s do something like…” I suppose most of the clients just want their designers to show they are able to make a copy of something the clients are impressed by, even while talking about the importance of the concept, the idea, and UX.
If you understand why one design is better than another one, you can learn how to do it. If you don’t, then begin by learning how to see the difference.
Sounds obvious, right? But at the same time quite annoying because general advice is the most difficult to follow. What I did was trying to reproduce the process of creating something to get a better understanding of the results. In most cases it was mechanical copying, but sometimes I changed and developed them when I found it possible.
Another thing I understood was that some work was easier than it appeared to be. It became clear that most of the time I didn’t have enough techniques to design my concepts in the way they should look. I felt a lack of courage to use new techniques in real projects and I spent an insane amount of time looking for workarounds.
Now I’m going to continue this practice and design isometric pictures and illustrations. If my experience can be of any use to you, stay tuned!