Tips for the Designer in all of us.

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There have been many times since graduation from College I have thought about getting my masters and going back and teaching college level. I was lucky enough to work alongside a great professor in college who made me learn to love to learn and inspire others. He encouraged me constantly and challenged me to not settle in my work. I wish so much to have that from time to time especially on those days I would rather stay in bed and not head into the office and check emails.

The reason I love to teach and inspire though is because of the idea of passing on knowledge and helping someone else discover their passion and love, which is the best way to be happy in life. If you can wrangle a way to make money doing what you are overly passionate about than you will not be unhappy in life. 

I think though if I were a teacher in the design and media field I would go expect and encourage some things from my students. So I thought today with school and colleges starting back in I would share some of the things I have learned as a designer being two years out and the things I wish I had known. 

1. Truly ask yourself what you are passionate about. Be honest. Explore and try to find the thing that just gets you warm and excited all over. That is the thing that will continue as inspiration in your life. For me I love interiors…should I be an interior designer? Probably not…but I am very inspired by them. I love animals…that does not mean I should be a vet but instead means I need a companion to work all day. 

2. Create a Reader. Every morning I wake up and catch up on what life has going on. As a designer and someone who is challenging trends constantly you have to know what is out there and it changes from day to day. Then from your reader begin folders of inspiration…I did this on my laptop in my Gen Ed classes in college…haha. These are things to pull from later and it helps you discover your style. Since you just let yourself pull what you like when you look back you will see a trend of some sort. Then push that style when a project comes along. 

3. As you discover your style let it absorb your life. It’s okay to be picky about what you choose…but learn your style. Cut your hair the way you always wanted to or buy the skinny jeans you have been afraid to but you are in love with. We are all made individual and when you are a designer you are being hired for your style, which means every inch of you should exude that to your client or future employer. But in order to exude you have to create it and refine it. When you can do that it will be evident you know yourself as a designer. Be careful not to copy a look make sure it is you. Keep a journal of the evolution of discovering this. It can be very inspiring. 

4. Go to museums and travel. If I were a teacher I would expect my students to take a week and travel wherever. I know money can be a challenge but it isn’t about exotic it is about new and fresh. That may be a ghost town three hundred miles away. Take photos let your soul absorb the location and then write about it. You should never become complacent because then your design is no longer fun it has become too serious. You no longer are creating. That is why we need travel and change, so we can challenge our existence. As a designer every thing in you will or has been brought into what you are creating. You love a font because of a certain moment that indicated in you that it is awesome for some reason. Be aware of that. 

5. Draw. I am not an artist when it comes to drawing but my wonderful husband has taught me the importance of the hand. It is a forgotten art and should be used more. We use our hands the most amazing part of our bodies other than the brain to push buttons. Hands are the only way we can take the intangible thoughts into a visual understandable languauge. So when you get a project…no matter what use the paper and pen first. Do as much without the computer before you go to it. Your design and skill as a sketcher will improve and over time your designs will feel more tangible. Also each person’s hands create differently this may teach you more about your style as a designer by what comes from your hands. 

These are the most important pieces to learning design and discovering your style I have come across. Though none of them I learned in college in any class these will be integral parts in learning to be a constant adventurer in the world of design and self. You cannot stop learning, exploring, and discovering as an artist. The controversial and amazing designer, Stefan Sagmeister takes a year vacation every four or five years in order to re-engage as a designer. He is so strict about not taking work then that he turned down the Obama campaign when offered it during his vacation. That is incrediable to me and an example of true commitment. I don’t know if I could do that but it is something he knew he needed not to do. 

Anyways, I hope these are helpful tips when heading back into the school year. I still do these things even today and plan to always continue doing them. 


Hello! I’m Megan Gilger,

A strong believer that nature and the seasons are our greatest teachers. We live on a hill in Leelanau County, Michigan just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. This land we are responsible for is where we are focused on building a life around the seasons and intention. We spend our days here building a regenerative model of living and focusing our garden on native plants and intensive polyculture planting styles. My focus is less on self-sufficiency and more on community-sufficiency through how we grow and connect through the seasons.
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