7 Tips to be a Better Beginner in Surface Design

As a beginner, we often seek advice online, try to learn something new, navigate our path, and so on. There’s a lot on the plate and I can relate. After working as an illustrator for four years, I’ve had the opportunity to think back on myself as a beginner artist. With that in mind, I am sharing the following tips with you that you can easily and sincerely apply to your journey, which will not only improve your artistic efficiency but also make you feel more confident! 

7 Tips to be a Better Beginner in Surface Design | Sketch Design Repeat

Tip #1: Let your style find you

Style is a scary word, I get it! Oftentimes, our focus and goals can solely be curated through the lens of wanting to have a style. Style is that one defining thing that will set you apart from others, right? While that’s very true, I suggest trying new things instead of trying to find your style! I know how hard this can be, but I have something for you! 

One great piece of advice I found online has stayed with me well: Concentrating on what you make, rather than how you make it, can help your artistic development! Simply said, choose subject matter over style. Exploring different types of artists and analyzing how they work can help you discover what you like and what you can let go of. 

7 Tips to be a Better Beginner in Surface Design | Sketch Design Repeat

Tip #2: Jealousy is normal

When we seek inspiration, we can fall prey to comparison. I think it’s a common tendency for humans to have one thing next to the other and compare them side by side. As we observe an artist who has already achieved quite much, feelings of envy and jealousy may arise. It is okay to feel that way. I remember being upset and asking myself, “Why wasn’t I like them?” I constantly saw how better that artist’s work was as compared to mine. But I realized it was unhealthy. 

If you’ve found yourself comparing yourself to another artist, even once, you’re not alone. Usually, jealousy is connected with a bad outlook, but if we look at it from a different angle, it might be a sign of aspiration in you to match their level of expertise! Isn’t that a fresh perspective? 

7 Tips to be a Better Beginner in Surface Design | Sketch Design Repeat

Tip #3: Steal like an artist, not otherwise

Now that you’ve learnt how to feel all your feelings, it’s time to tell you something that the art community swears by! There are two aspects to creating work while seeking inspiration. 

a. Imagine yourself getting swooned by an artist’s work that leaves you with the urge of creating the same. Once you’ve created it, of course, you want to share it with the world! To do the deed right, make sure you credit the artist whose work you sought inspiration from. That way, you appreciate the original artist’s work, and they might even get to have a look at yours!

b. Let’s say you are out of ideas and keep scrolling your way through others’ work to have a lightbulb moment. The best way I’ve applied the “steal like an artist” idea is to gather 3–5 images of artwork that you love and pick one aspect from each image. Trust me, you will come up with something unique that won’t be a direct copy of somebody’s work but a stylised interpretation of your own! Over time, you may feel like referencing less and less as you craft something from your mind.

Related Article: 10 Ways to Find Surface Design Inspiration

Tip #4: Invest in limited tools

One of the main tools that a digital artist has is digital brushes. If you’ve had a look at the brush library in your design software, some brushes may be your favorites and others just might not appeal that much to you. You may be attracted to buy loads of unique brush packs from creators online! While supporting creators is a good thing to do and there are loads of brush packs available on the design marketplace, I suggest you start small or make use of things you already have. One error I made early on was buying too many tools, which I now find myself not even using! Our styles evolve as our skills evolve and making little purchases as we proceed further along the journey is a hack I wish I followed as a beginner. Keep in mind that you are free to still make your own choices, however, this can help you save some money that you can invest later mindfully.  

Tip #5: Find a community of fellow beginners 

Community is a pretty huge deal in the world of social media. I have always had a lovely experience with the art community because we tend to look out for each other and make each other feel less alone as creative people. Seeing artists of our kind, who are in a similar artistic stage as we are, can help us stay consistent and get our motivation levels high. That feeling of community is one of the things I enjoy experiencing as an artist. It feels so good to share advice, suggestions, and supportive love!

7 Tips to be a Better Beginner in Surface Design | Sketch Design Repeat

Tip #6: Be open to experiment and fail

In the beginning, we are more prone to not knowing things and failing. Some goals may not be ticked off when we want them to, and we might find ourselves on a different path than we imagined ourselves to be. I assure you that this is all part of developing your artistic personality! Failure is not the opposite of success, but it’s a part of it. Sit with yourself and analyze what your failures, crossroads, and experimentations tell you. Do they point you in a different direction? Do they reveal anything special about yourself? It’s time to own it!

Tip #7: Accept your unique journey

When I was a beginner, I always wanted my path to look like an already successful artist. I adored hearing and learning about the experiences of other artists, and I developed a tendency to criticize myself if I didn’t succeed comparably. As a beginner, you are in a world of unknowns and possible discoveries. The best way to separate ourselves from our idols is to accept the fact that each individual is different, and so is the journey. You may achieve your goals within a month or a year, and while it may seem very confusing at first, know that it’ll be a great story to tell in the future! 

Imagine if all artists had the same journey, wouldn’t that feel boring? Your slow, steady, or fast growth is unfolding exactly how it’s supposed to be, at the right place and time. Your journey reflects how special you are!

Phew! That was quite a bunch of information! I’m so happy that you took the time to read it all because I know you care for yourself, which is so awesome. You’re now geared up to be a better beginner. If at any time you find yourself in discomfort, know that you can always come back here to gain comfort. This blogpost is my hug to you!

Written by Daksha Giri

Website: www.dakshagiri.com
Instagram: @dakshagiri

Daksha Giri is an illustrator and lettering artist based in India who creates beautiful and unique artwork that is both visually appealing and emotionally resonant. Her work is seen in greeting cards, packaging, giftware & home décor.

  1. Abby Gleason says:

    Love this post and your perspective. Thanks!

  2. Thank you for the tips, Daksha! Well said 👏

  3. These are great tips! Thank you for sharing them. I especially love “steal like an artist.”

  4. Kay says:

    Thank you for such an inspiring and informative post. I really appreciate it!

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