When first delving into the creative world there are so many unique areas of focus. The term “artist” can be applied to many avenues. Becoming an artist does not require picking any single avenue – rather you need to figure out what excites you the most and what type of work truly piques your curiosity.

art easel studio photography interior featured image

I want to cover a few different subsets of artistic work so that new designers can think about the different options. Traditional art is always available but there is a lot to enjoy about digital artwork. The biggest key is to always push your boundaries and try new things. Whether you like it or not, you can always learn something about your skillset and what type of work is most enjoyable.

User Interface Design

Website layouts are nothing more than specialized interfaces using extended page elements like sidebars and fixed navigation menus. People hear UI and often think about mobile apps, video game interfaces, or computer programs. But website interfaces are just as valid in this conversation!

If you like to create user-centric projects then UI/UX design is at least worth a cursory glance. Website design is a huge topic with many resource available online for free. Keep in mind that designing a website interface does not require that you also code the website. It is possible to be just a designer, although it can be limiting over time.

iphone app sketch wireframe design photo

Also if you prefer to design mobile interfaces why not start designing smartphone apps? User interface design is a huge category with a growing field of employment. Software developers also need GUI designs to reference as a template for their program(s). If you’re just getting started I would recommend reading about graphics design and UI design to see how they compare, and what might interest you the most.

Snazzy Icons

I like to delve a bit deeper into more complicated topics which help designers build a clearer focus in their daily work. Icon sets are often created and released for free online. Icon styles range from pixel-based ideas to much larger detailed pieces of work. This subset of user interface design isn’t something that every designer will try to learn.

Admittedly icon design hasn’t always been a field in high demand. But the popularity of mobile Android/iOS applications has created a market for icon designers who can make smartphone app icons. This also applies to designing icons for the application interface, like with tab bar icons or menu items.

nokia digital mobile icons iconset phones

It is a more complicated topic but definitely worth trying when you have the ability. Digital artwork appears to be confusing from the outside. But it’s a whole lot easier once you understand how to build the initial shapes and color schemes.

Illustration Work

I always read about people who want to learn how to draw. And it is curious how the western education system focuses so much energy on math and writing, but not artistic creativity. Illustration is huge because it can be applied to almost any medium. Websites, comic strips, book covers, framed portraits, etc.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist you can learn a lot by just drawing. You’ll understand how to make 2D shapes appear 3D on a flat surface. You’ll learn how individual lines make up a full composition and it gives you deeper insight towards the creative process. Moving into color schemes and digital illustration requires some practice but it’s not impossible.

sketching drawing notebook illustration design concept

Look up some jobs and illustration styles which relate to that kind of work. If you have the passion and the drive to learn then nobody can stop you except yourself.

Typography & Branding

Print artwork is most associated with typography. But keep in mind how quickly the Internet has expanded, and how many new websites are in need of a relatable logo. Fonts are easy to find online but much more difficult to create from scratch.

If you have any interest in designing typography read a few articles online to understand the basics. This article on Noupe is a nice starting point. You would slowly evolve the ability to create letters from scratch and repeat a similar style of the entire alphabet. These can often be scaled larger or smaller to accommodate print and digital work.

Writing the Picture

We all know that painting a beautiful picture can be worth 1000 words. But what about painting that picture using only the words? Writing is a skill like anything else, which can be honed and refined over years of practice. There are many styles of writing like storybooks, narratives, screenplays, case studies, the list goes on and on.

writing screenplay page syntax artwork example

I find that people most interested in writing also have a deep-seated interest in their own language. Vocabulary is important but you also need to understand how to use certain words to create that mental image in your reader’s mind. If you enjoy building concepts without making the visuals then writing is a wonderful creative endeavor.

As far as suggestions, just read a lot and find bits of time to practice. Try free writing on any topic you desire, then proofread and edit multiple times. This is a typical writing process and once you get into the habit you’ll be able to determine if it’s something that you enjoy.


There are plenty of examples where people have changed over into design work during their 20s and 30s. It’s more common than you might think, but it also requires a lifestyle change with many long hours. If you have an interest to work in a field of design consider these topics I’ve presented and do some more research on your own. It’s a beautiful path of creativity with a lot of soul searching along the way.

Posted by Jake Rocheleau

Jake is a writer & digital designer/illustrator. He writes about all things web and creative. Check out his website for work samples and follow his latest updates on Twitter @jakerocheleau.

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