How to become a cool designer in 365 days

I bring to your attention a translation of the article "How To Become An Awesome Designer In 365 Days" by Marko Stupić.

One of the ancient sayings that motivates me is “Practice leads to perfection.” Proverbs are commonplace, but in certain situations they get to the point. I am a workaholic by nature, which, of course, has both positive and negative sides. One of the positive aspects - I can not give myself a break and do nothing all day. On the other hand, work without rest and clear goals reduces motivation, and, of course, tires. That's why I decided to trust the good old proverb and try to become better.

Becoming a great designer is a serious challenge. To become famous and recognized is even more difficult. In the field of digital design, there are so many narrow specialties with many categories of designers who, each in their field, make a name for themselves. Some of them are great web designers, others are great UI designers if they focus on animation, and so on. How to find yourself among a huge number of successful people, and what worries more, how to succeed in such a competitive environment?

The answer to this question is: work, work and work again. Of course, talent helps. But it is perseverance and work that separate a good designer from an excellent one.

What I want to share is my story about how I started my journey, about personal and professional growth.

This illustration is my first step in Dribbble.


The obvious advantage of working in a creative and eminent digital agency is that your environment makes you improve at every step. Your colleagues are experts in their field, and least of all would you like to be left behind. The competitive environment acts as an exceptionally positive incentive.

I wanted to be one of these amazing people. I knew that I needed to develop my creative potential and promote myself as a designer.

The first thing that came to mind was training. When I go to the gym, I often see athletes who train daily, developing dexterity, strength and coordination. Same thing with the musicians. They repeat their compositions until they begin to perform them from memory. Practicing in various classes, we learn new things, new movements. Our brain creates new synoptic connections, and we begin to see the problem in a new light, in other words - we develop our creativity.

Practice does not lead to perfection. Only perfect practice leads to perfection. Vince Lombardi

Come up with a test

Having motivation for action is just as critical if you want to grow and develop. I need such a test to have to surpass myself. I also need to have a clear vision of the ultimate goal. When you develop an application, you are well aware of what you expect from the final product. Many subtle points will have to be settled and combed during the project, but your goal should be clear. In my case, this means that I need to come up with a design project that will require surpassing myself.

First published illustration.

So the project appeared .

The initial idea was to create a simple icon every day for a year, using Adobe Illustrator as the main tool. The concept is simple: the circle into which I enter the icon. The themes of the illustrations are completely different. I must admit that in the beginning I was not sure that this would lead to anything. But the main goal was to improve the skills in digital graphics. I wanted to make dissimilar illustrations in order to master several styles. I knew my possibilities (and I continue to learn them).

Since the project began, he practically lives his own life. Creating icons became my second self, almost like brushing my teeth every morning.

Although the original idea was simple icons, over time they grew into full-blown illustrations.


Finished illustration.

Get to know your possibilities

Naturally, work on such a project in personal time entails a certain number of problems. The biggest problem for me is finding the time. Working from 9 to 5, you realize that time is actually not infinite. Your day may be overloaded with personal or work responsibilities. It is very difficult to invest all that you have in a project alone.

One of the pitfalls of a long-term project is the loss of motivation and the inevitable loss of quality. The key task is to always stay focused on the main goal and publish the icon at the end of the day no matter what.

Staying persistent throughout the project is a test in itself. I started with simple icons, but as I developed, I learned new techniques for applying shadows, filters, effects, etc.

These examples show the progress that I have made from the beginning to the present:

Day 3.

Day 25.

Day 111.

Day 168.

Day 214.

Day 286.

Take commitments

You must remain obligatory in your work. Finding motivation for action every day is difficult. I realized that self-promotion helps to cope with this task. Posting your work on social networks like Tumblr , Twitter , Behance or Dribbble gives you a wide audience. External recognition imposes obligations on you to continue the project.

I started my blog on Tumblr, where I posted icons daily. I was able to easily observe my progress during these 365 days, and it’s also a good way to show the work to other people. In addition to Tumblr, the illustrations that I think I succeeded in getting to Dribbble - this community is more focused on designers. When you publish your work on the network, you have a certain audience of subscribers, and, as a rule, your popularity as a designer grows.

If I missed one day, I would have found a reservation to skip another one and so on. Be faithful to your work, and it will pay off.

Enlist the support of friends

If you start a long-term project, there is a risk that friends will be skeptical about it. Do not fall into this trap. Friends play a big role in your development. You need to surround yourself with people who will encourage your work. People who will see the point in your project and give you advice when you encounter a creative crisis, and believe me, there will be days when this crisis will happen.

It doesn't matter how good you are at your job. There are times when you encounter obstacles that you cannot overcome. It is then that the participation of friends and colleagues is important. They can show / offer a new solution, give the right advice.

Although my project takes time, I have not lost friends because of it. Quite the contrary, I started some new ones during the project, especially in the design environment.

Realize the result

It may seem that you will not get more from your project than personal growth. You will be surprised what result you can get by starting to do something. In addition to unleashing creativity that could sleep all this time, there are many other things that can happen on the way to your personal goal.

As for me, I became stronger in illustration, I learned how to animate my icons (it was a small third-party project that my colleagues helped me with), I met many new creative people and opened the door to the design community. The project has gained a commercial side: people liked the illustrations, and they wanted to get the right to use or hire me to make custom illustrations. I also started selling my icons on Society6, where you can find them on various household items such as mugs, watches, bedspreads.

All the consequences of this work have led to increased self-confidence. The end result of the project covers small negative aspects that can happen along the way.

End of a long journey

If someone told me a year ago that I would create one illustration a day, I would most likely not believe it. I did not realize what progress I could achieve in such a short time.

Work colleagues ask me: what will you do when you finish your 365th icon?

Fair? I dont know. I’m likely to find myself another goal, a new test that will make me better, already in the new field of digital design.

What I can say for sure is that the icon-a-day project was my great achievement, and I recommend everyone to start their own project. Life is a process of lifelong learning, and such goals help us expand our boundaries. This gives us growth, both professional and personal.

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