Between Projects? Try These 7 Graphic Design Exercises

When you’re used to working at “agency speed,” with deadlines like ASAP and COB, it feels strange to have downtime – especially as a graphic designer. But, if you find yourself with an ebb in your usual flow, here are a few ways you can make the most of it:

7 Graphics Design Exercises
  1. Update your personal portfolio. When was the last time you invested in showcasing your best graphic design work? Use spare time to collect design samples from your recent projects, including examples that represent different styles, types of campaigns and industries. Create a virtual portfolio on Wix, Squarespace, Site 123 or another microsite of your choice, which can easily be shared with others.
  2. Polish your sales materials. The next new business opportunity might be right around the corner! Proactively position yourself for success by updating graphic design materials and adding recent work samples to sales decks so your latest designs are ready to position your agency for your next project.
  3. Establish onboarding best practices. Slower workloads create an opportunity to refine or create an onboarding process for new clients as well as new team members. For clients, think through the best way to familiarize them with your organization and the creative process. Manage their expectations, answer their questions and discuss how you can best work together. With new hires in mind, use this time to develop tips and resources so they can easily acclimate to your organization and get to know your clients.
  4. Optimize existing processes. How do you want to work better? Look at current graphic design processes and workflows, and identify if you can make things faster, smoother and lead to an improved product. Does a brief template need to be updated? Should you refresh your approach to brainstorming? Work out the kinks now so you will have a well-oiled machine when the time comes.
  5. Organize your files. Be honest – what does your desktop look like? Take advantage of a few free minutes to save all resources in the proper folders on your shared drive and rename files to avoid version-control issues. These quick, simple steps will also help ensure team members are aware of filing and naming best practices so everyone can easily find what they need, when they need it.
  6. Grow your knowledge. Get together with colleagues and share what’s new. This can be anything from software hacks to new skills or admirable work you’ve recently seen. Sharing insights with your peers is a great way to keep your skills sharp and learn easy tips and tricks you can immediately put into practice. If you’re on your own, seek out webinars and classes being offered for free.
  7. Get inspired. Use this time to find new ideas. Go for a walk and let your mind wander. Take a virtual tour of a museum. Scroll through Instagram for inspiration on fonts, color palettes and supporting design elements. Pick up a new medium – even if it’s an adult coloring book or a paint-by-numbers project. You can also spark creativity by engaging in your local community. For example, team members in our Atlanta office enjoy attending Creative Mornings, exploring the latest exhibits at Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) or participating in events hosted by the Atlanta Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). (These groups have plenty of virtual offerings, too!)

A slowdown doesn’t have to result in boredom. Free time can lead to better processes, better marketing and better creativity.

Interested in what the graphic designers at Jackson Spalding have been creating lately? Check out this creative team production reel.