This is an extract from our recently published e-book which is called: Tips To Teach Yourself Graphic Design.


Over the last year, I’ve met hundreds of marketers, social media mavens, and bloggers. Each one of them had a similar problem, they either didn’t have time to create images or felt they didn’t have the skills they needed to create the images to the high standard their audience expected.

So I set about creating this new ebook called Tips To Teach Yourself Graphic Design. This post is an extract from the chapter on research and discusses the importance of gathering visual research, where you can find inspiration and how to actualize your research in your designs.  


Research, Research, Research

Just in case you didn’t get it the first three times – design research is hugely important. Luckily, design inspiration is everywhere. Everyday inspiration can be found in things like nature, architecture, music, and fashion. When you are designing images, scan your surroundings with a new purpose. There may be something in the shape of a chair or the color of a flower that could trigger an idea. Thinking like a designer begins with your eyes.

The more you pay attention to the details of the images you see every day, the more adept you will become at designing your own. This will help you to define and decide and develop your personal style preferences.

Another way to research design is to immerse yourself in local design communities. Attending art exhibitions will introduce you to more styles of design, open your mind to new techniques and potentially build your network. Also, prepare to feel super cultured wandering around a gallery on a Saturday morning!    




 Mixed Media

Thankfully, traditional media is still relevant (for the time being at least!) so take advantage.  

Browse newspapers and magazines for interesting images, ads and editorials – examine how businesses are presenting their products in print. Really look at their logos and branding, how are they using images and text? Make a note of things that that stand out or that you find particularly appealing or better again cut them out and make a mood board!


Mood boards are like scrapbooks and are brilliant ways to organize your visual ideas. They will also help you to hone your personal visualization process, which is an excellent method for planning and achieving goals.   




Art and design coffee-table books are not only beautiful but they will also educate you on the fascinating history of design or a more detailed insight into specific designer’s work. There are some beautiful examples in these compilations.



Don’t forget about the tube! Next time you’re lolling on the couch, instead of fast-forwarding the commercials, check out what the big brands are spending their big bucks on in terms of TV adverts. How are they using color, copy, models, and locations? You might assume that there is too big a leap between a multinational corporation’s television ad and your Twitter post image, but you never know what kernel of inspiration you might pick up.  


Life Online

And of course, there is the internet! This is where you will find examples from every conceivable type of designer. There are millions of wonderfully amazing (and wonderfully weird) designers online and their work is free to peruse. But it’s important not to feel intimidated by their skills, most are veterans who have studied design and work in the industry.

But that’s not to say you can’t learn from what they do. Most professionals adopt a clever blended strategy that comprises of following trends, knowing what the market wants and injecting their own personality and style into every image. Try not to copy directly, it’s better to be influenced by individual elements such as a certain font or color combination and then put your stamp on it.




The choice is plentiful on visual-based social media like Instagram and Pinterest but dig deeper and you will discover an endless supply of websites dedicated to showcasing stunning designs.

A good idea is to save the images you love to your computer or photostream. Then you can organize them by style or genre and analyze what you like and why you like it. Gathering as much information as possible will give you a broad platform of research, inspiration, and ideas.



We hope you enjoyed this extract – and learned something new about graphic design research! Other chapters in this ebook give helpful information and advice on important areas of graphic design such as composition, color, typography, and self-critiquing. If you want to discover more Tips To Teach Yourself Design, click here to download the full e-book.



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