Why I feel comfortable wasting entire days designing random things
Yesterday I felt like having some new background on my iMac so I pulled up an open source project with some existing designs and modified them to fit the 5K resolution.
It took me hours to do it.
But, I didn't mind.
Today I spent all day creating some graphical elements. I'm not getting paid for it, and I may not even use them.
But, I don't mind.
I'll often waste entire days on designing things I will never touch again. You guessed it - I don't mind it!
The big reason for this is that design takes practice. No matter how skilled you are, everyone gets rusty or out of style. Designers have to practice to get better. The moment we stop designing and learning new things, is the moment we fall behind.
Design is a muscle that requires training. That, and I enjoy learning new things. Whenever I'm designing, it is usually something new. Something I've never touched before or have very little experience with.
This is how I learned designing from about the age of 16. I've never picked up a course, a book, or attended any workshops. I learned design by copying others.
I've found the act of copying to be the best at teaching you how something works. Copying requires being able to design things which you have no idea how to. This in itself is a challenge and the best way to understand how people design things.
Only by doing it yourself, can you train the design muscle. Tutorials and books won't get the job done. The act of trying is the most important aspect of learning. Learn by doing.
Besides, I have a lot of fun doing it!
Here are the backgrounds I created based on the work of Yan Liu.
If you'd like a copy, you can download the full files here.