Today I’m answering a question from one of my high school-age readers. This question really resonated with me and hopefully they’ll have the opportunity to discover their passion for design much earlier than I did.
I am a sixteen year old aspiring graphic designer and blogger and I am avid reader of your blog. I am interested in creating a website showcasing my personal style, graphic design, and my photography. I have grown up around technology and design and would very much like to become a successful designer and blogger but I’m not exactly sure where to start. What would your advice be to someone my age who is still in high school and aspires to become a household name in terms of blogging and design?
First of all, I have a deep admiration for teenagers that are so focused on knowing what they want to achieve career-wise early on in their schooling. As much as I loved art, I definitely didn’t have a clear vision for what I wanted to accomplish post-high school. It took me years of trial and error, working my way through various college courses and jobs before I found my true calling. In hindsight, it all seems so clear but at the time, I definitely felt lost. To get a head start on your chosen path, I’d recommend the following:
1. Start your blog as soon as possible.
Get started with your blog now to showcase your style, design and photography. If you don’t have the means to build a custom site, start up on a free platform like Blogger (there are tons of online tutorials that can show you to customize it). I spent six years blogging on a free platform before I launched my self-titled blog and that time was extremely valuable for developing my focus and making many of the online friends that I still have today. The web is extremely malleable and you can always go back and make as many changes as you’d like to your design and content but the idea is to start building momentum and recognition now.
2. Develop your own lesson plan.
If you’re too young to enroll or unable to afford college courses, seek out design tutorials. Smashing Magazine has some great ones and Lynda.com is fantastic for perfecting specific techniques. Also, subscribe to design and lifestyle blogs that excite you. Gather inspiration at every turn and pin it for future reference. All of this will build your confidence while helping you to develop your own style.
3. Seek out a mentor.
Being both a designer and a blogger is hard work and as you begin your journey, you’re bound to have many questions. If you can find someone that’s already been down that path, they can offer you insight and advice about what to expect along the way. Four years ago, a recent design graduate emailed me and on a whim, we met for dinner. Since then, I’ve critiqued her portfolio and recommended her for freelance gigs. At the same time, she’s been really supportive of what I do. It’s really rewarding to develop relationships with people who share a creative bond. If nobody around you shares your interests, many school counselors are pretty savvy these days and can help you form a career plan.
4. Never let peer criticism get under your skin.
Often, when you’re young, determined and talented, peers will try to get in your way. It’s important to ask yourself if these folks have your best interests in mind or if they’re simply threatened by your talent. While I have many fond memories of high school, I have many negative ones too. Looking back, I wish I’d been even more strong-willed when people put my style and aspirations down. We all have bad days but if you have a strong sense of who you are, you’ll overcome most challenges.
5. In Closing
At sixteen, you have so much power to dream big and with some planning, there’s no doubt that you’ll shape your future life into exactly what you want it to become. I have the utmost faith that with the determination and thirst for knowledge you possess, you’ll have great success with both design and blogging. It’s never too early to get started.