With the dawn of the New Year, many of us are thinking of ways to get 2015 started on the right foot. For those still searching, here are 10 design-specific resolutions that can help welcome the new year with inspiration to grow and prosper as designers.

1. Push the envelope

The all-time great designers worked for more than money and it wasn’t enough just to please a client or get a paycheck. They all had a clear passion and interest in pushing the possibilities of design. Think beyond the contest prize. What else can you gain from entering design contests? Perhaps 2015 can be a year of pushing one’s limits, pushing the limits of design and exploring new possibilities.

2. Keep in touch with clients

It’s easy to rifle through dozens of contests and forget about the wins. It never hurts to keep in touch with clients you’ve had a good relationship with – and you never know when it might lead to more work. 2015 can be a year of catching up with clients of the past, even if it’s a simple “Happy New Year” message.

Learn more client tips with our articles “Managing your network of clients from 99designs” and “How to get follow-on work through 99designs“.

3. Be self evident

As simple as it sounds, perhaps one of the biggest steps a designer can take is to simply start making sense; both conceptually and visually. As 2014 comes to a close, designers can look at work done in the previous year and ask quite plainly if it makes sense. If not, 2015 could be the beginning of self evidence.

Read “Success Strategy: How to explain your design work” for more on the topic.

4. Master the programs

Everyone knows what it’s like to stumble through Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. They all have a unique language and workflow that takes time to learn. 2015 can be a year of streamlining one’s workflow, learning all the shortcuts and freeing the creative mind.

Get started with these “10 Photoshop tips for a more productive workflow“.

5. Be true to one’s design self

The feedback that designers receive comes largely from clients who often have personal interests that are separate from a designer’s interest. Rather than feeling like a servant to clients, designers can stand up for their design self or, in other words, design in a self-fulfilling way that is at peace with differences of opinion. There are plenty of chamelion-like designers out there. 2015 can be the year to be an individual.

99designer, thislooksgreat, wrote a great article about “When to stand up for your designs“.

6. Manage design stress

Ironically, stressing about design work can actually lead to the production of weaker designs. In 2015, perhaps this understanding can allow a peaceful, playful and free workflow to take hold.

Read “The top 3 challenges of being a freelancer (and ways to overcome them)” for more tips on overcoming these design hurdles.

7. Do some pro bono work

What struggling designer has time for free work? Believe it or not, pro bono work can be just as valuable to the designer as it is to the client. Beyond doing public good, it provides an opportunity to network, build a portfolio of real world design work, and to develop a reputation.

Get started with these “3 ways to rethink nonprofit design“.

8. Find your strength

Riding the coat tails of successful designers of the past will get a designer nowhere. Take note of which category of contest you most enjoy participating in and hone a style within that realm!

Learn more with these “8 simple ways to build your freelance business“.

9. Assemble a portfolio

In the 80’s making a portfolio was simple: pile up your work in a protective case, or photograph your work onto a roll of slide film and have it developed. Today however portfolios commonly exist in a handful of forms – portfolio websites, personal websites, in social media websites, and in print. 2015 could be the year of taking on this challenge to the fullest and assembling a portfolio in all of these mediums.

Check out these “4 steps to getting your portfolio noticed by clients” and “The do’s and don’ts of a great design portfolio” on 99designs.

10. Find an audience

A big part of being successful in the design profession is barking (or purring?) up the right trees. When looking for work out in the world, seek out clients who you relate to and don’t be afraid to approach them!


This list is just a starter pack of ideas for 2015. The ways in which the coming year can be transformed are endless and the only limit is one’s own imagination!

Tomasz David
Tomasz David

Leave a Comment