By Mary Kate Pedigo, CCC, Communications Specialist, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative

  1. Collect Inspiration—As you’re flipping through magazines or scrolling through Pinterest, snag what catches your eye. Start collecting samples of design, be it print ads, feature articles, brochures or even business cards. Next time you’re in a “design rut” take a look through your inspiration collection for ideas.
  1. Fix Bad Design—Ever come across a really bad flyer or print ad? Create a little design homework for yourself and redesign it. Evaluate what the original designer did wrong and what you could do better.
  1. Fix Your Bad Design—Look back through your portfolio of work. Are there pieces you wish you could have done differently? Redo your old designs as a way to track your progress as a designer.
  1. Take Classes—Many local colleges offer courses in design, photography, writing, etc., without having to enroll as a full-time student. Polish up on your basics, learn something new, and boost your confidence as an experienced designer.
  1. Look for Tutorials—Sites like offer technical tutorials on popular software applications. With a little searching, you can find tutorials on websites and design blogs that can help get you over a “design plateau.”
  1. Ask For and Take Advice—Share a rough draft with a fellow designer, coworker or potential audience member. A fresh set of eyes or second opinion can keep your design heading in the right direction. Ask questions like, “Is this hard to read?” “What do you like about this?” “What don’t you like about this?”
  1. Plan Your Design—Grab a sketchbook or even a scrap piece of paper. Jot down any design ideas you have and the elements you’ll need (i.e. fonts, photographs, stock images). Sketch out concepts or wireframes of your design. This will help you better visualize the final piece.
  1. Stick to the “Rule of Three”—Don’t add too much to any one design. Stick to no more than three font styles and colors. This also refers to overall visual balance and symmetry in your design.
  1. Save Well and Save Often—Never underestimate the power of your “save” button. Computers can sometimes have a mind of their own, and there’s nothing worse than losing hard work. When you pause; take a quick second and hit “save.” You’ll be glad you did.