The field of graphic design is highly competitive, and you have to stay on top of your game if you want to land the bigger clients and continue to work in the industry. One way to learn new techniques and keep up with trends is to study other what other top graphic designers are doing. While you never want to copy another designer, learning about the best of the best is quite inspiring.
There are about 266,300 jobs in graphic design in the United States, but with global borders all but a thing of the past, the competition for those jobs isn’t always the designer in the same town. It could be one in another country or even on another continent. Here are 15 of the top graphic designers from 2018 and what you can learn from their work:
1. Milton Glaser
One of the top graphic designers of 2018 was a familiar design name to many – Milton Glaser. Glaser decided 2018 was a great year to share his designs from posters dating between 1965 and 2017. He’s received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and has been on trend for decades. If you want to learn what it takes to have a long-term career in design, Glaser is the one to study.
2. Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan Sagmeister is a co-founder and designer at Sagmeister & Walsh in New York City. He’s designed for big names, particularly in the music industry, such as The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and The Talking Heads. He’s earned three Grammys for his album cover designs and most recently co-directed a documentary. If you’re representing artists, Sagmeister is the designer to study for ideas on fresh, innovative designs.
3. Jessica Rose
Jessica Rose is a Canadian magazine cover designer who creates eye-catching, highly artistic magazine covers. She’s designed more than 100 covers for magazines such as “Toronto Life” and “The Sunday Times.” Recently, she began working on a book. You can learn about adding deeper meaning to your designs by studying her work. She often adds a message within a beautiful design.
4. Chad Michael
Another one of this year’s top graphic designers is Chad Michael, who designs product packaging. He launched his studio in 2014, and since then he’s designed packaging for NoMad Playing Cards, Migrant Whiskey and Old Town Distilling Company, among others. He’s built quite a name for himself in packaging designs for spirits. If you are interested in getting into product packaging design, studying Michael’s labels is a great place to gain inspiration.
5. Jessica Walsh
Jessica Walsh works for Sagmeister & Walsh and has become a partner in the design firm. She has designed for Levi’s, Jay-Z and the New York Times. She’s gained fame for running social experiments and even sold film rights to one experiment titled 40 Days of Dating. Walsh is young, hip and on top of what millennials want. If your target audience is millennials, this is a good designer to follow for ideas.
6. Marta Cerda
Marta Cerda is known for her beautiful typography. You can view her colorful, typographically complex designs on Behance. She’s based in Amsterdam. If you want to improve your use of type or you want to specialize in typography, Marta Cerda is a must to study.
7. Kate Moross
Kate Moross is not only an award-winning designer, but she is also an illustrator. Her designs feature bursts of color and motion. Some of her clients are Converse, Vogue, Ray-Ban, Nokia and Adidas. Probably most notable is her shift into the music industry. She’s designed tour visuals for musical groups as well as design and animations for MTV awards shows. You can learn about how to use color in interesting new ways by studying her designs.
8. Lauren Hom
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Lauren Hom is known for her artistic lettering and is especially well known for playful letterforms. Clients include TIME magazine and YouTube, but she also creates menu designs around NYC in chalk and other mediums. A bit different than some of the more commercial designers listed above, Hom is a great one to study to learn about the basic aesthetics of design and hand-lettering techniques.
9. Steven Harrington
Steven Harrington is based in Los Angeles and is known for his psychedelic-pop designs. He also integrates multimedia, including animated videos. Some of his clients include the LA Rams and Beats by Dre. If you’re interested in creating unique, vibrant designs, study Steven Harrington’s work.
10. Violaine & Jeremy
Violaine & Jeremy is a graphic design team made up of Violaine Orsoni and Jeremy Schneider. Their designs are quite intricate, and the more you look at them, the more detail you notice. One design, for example, included an illustration of a gorilla with a beard made up of images of nature. If you’re an advanced designer and want to learn about more intricate work, this is a good design team to study.
11. Alex Center
Alex Center created some buzz in 2018 with a talk at HOW Design Live. He shared his own story as a designer and pointed out how much he cares about the work he does. He was formerly the design director for Coca-Cola and recently started his own design company in Brooklyn, New York. Look to Alex Center to learn how best to brand yourself as a designer.
12. Lotta Nieminen
Lotta Nieminen made Forbes’ list of 30 under 30 and earned an ADC Young Guns award. She is known for crisp, sharp designs and bold colors. Her clients include Google, the New York Times and Hermes. Note her use of black, white and pops of bold colors such as red.
13. Kat Holmes
Fast Company named Kat Homes one of the Most Creative People in Business. She recently wrote a book about design, which has a release date of September 2018. She previously worked with Microsoft and today works with Google. She’s considered an expert in inclusive design, so if you want to learn more about inclusiveness in design, read her book and follow her career.
14. Chuck Anderson
If you’re looking for the next generation of designers, Chuck Anderson is a good one to keep an eye on. Fresh out of high school, he launched his freelance design career and worked with companies such as Nike, Reebok and Microsoft. His work is vivid and full of color with almost a comic book feel. Study Chuck Anderson to learn about trending designs.
15. Christoph Miler
Christoph Miler was named to the Ones to Watch 2018 list by “It’s Nice That,” along with his design partner Isabel Seiffert. Their designs tell a story through typography and unique imagery that pull the viewer in and make a statement for their clients. The team is based in Zurich. They are a global design company, working with clients from all over the world. Study this team to learn how to tell a story through your designs.
Who’s top in the field changes from year to year, but studying current well-known and well-respected designers helps you to gain inspiration. You’ll see what is trending in design and be able to incorporate those trends into your own work or learn to avoid anything that is too trendy and will be dated in a few months.