25 years in Design – 5 learnings that still hold strong today

Gareth Davies
By Gareth Davies 5 min read
07 Apr 2024

2024 sees me hitting 25 years as a working graphic designer. I still learn and enjoy it as much as the first time I opened (a cracked version of) Photoshop on my desktop PC back in 1999. And to this day, the core principals used over the years to help clients, myself and even my relationships… remain the most impactful ones for clients large and small.

Despite all the changes in the world, the tools we use and the content we create, I truly believe the most important skill is our ability to curate and communicate in the most simple and impactful way possible. Be that delighting the audience by saving their time, catching their eye or making them smile amongst the storm of content chaos we live inside every day.

This article is intended to express all of the above, hopefully help others and recognise what design and communication can do to help us all. From people, to relationships, to companies and beyond… enjoy.


Perhaps above all, consistency is the foundation of anything and everything you or your business can do. And the sooner you start, you’ll get good at it, be recognised for it and probably turn it into potential income. Life can get more hectic, more responsibilities, more bills to pay and less time to practice. Professionally, being consistent will build up your reputation, your work, your side hustle or your idea.

Start now, stick at it, and step by step, and year by year, you start will be behind you, and something will be in your hands.

As an example, here’s some things I’ve experienced that build success over time. From the standpoint of a business or brand and also as an individual.

As a company, self awareness could mean:
• Delivering a consistently good experience – this really is the main thing and will build your reputation and customer perception over time
• Continually investing in and maintaining your brand and website
• Growing your social media

As a individual this could mean:
• Practising your main skill (or general set of skills) such as Graphic Design
• Saving – Not always easy, I started at around 25 and slowly but surely you get to a good place.
• Curiosity – Being interesting in things you love will constantly keep you aware, ahead for ideas and generally excited and inspirated.
• A side hustle – Be it a t-shirt brand or any idea, eventually it will grow and before you know it, it’s a thing with a real world following or value.

Self Awareness

Perhaps the most important lesson and one that eventually comes with age. Usually when you’ve made enough mistakes to spot a pattern. Or when you’ve messed up so big that you can’t realistically blame everyone else. That’s certainly how I started to become self aware.

For example when I first moved to Dubai and my first job crashed fairly quick (Yes I even crashed into a Porsche). I wasn’t experienced, wise or politically minded enough to navigate a new job situation. The only lens I was seeing through was ‘I’m working hard and my work is good’. Which is often not enough. It didn’t go to plan. I screwed up a presentation (which hadn’t been shared with me beforehand) and I was clearly lacking in experience of delivering that type of work…

But it was the bigger exact situation, not the presentation that was the issue. I was smart enough to realise that and said to to sayself… ‘if you were more experienced, you could have navigated that better’.

Recognised my personal shortcomings rather than just blaming the other side was key. It’s something I continue to do today and where possible… just last year I screwed something up, I kicked myself and was gutted for a couple of days. But I’m try to improve. (More on that later).

As a company, self awareness could mean:
• Recognising an outdated brand
• Recognising your internal team isn’t working and change is needed
• Listening to how your employees feel
• Being aware of your company culture

As a individual this could mean:
• Recognising behaviours
• Being clear on strengths and weaknesses
• Accepting responsibility for failure or a challenge that wasn’t met
• Understanding opportuni


Being brave means stepping intones  spaces you’re not comfortable or experienced with. Stretching yourself, not playing it safe, running to a new place (both creatively, geographically or financially). It’s one of the best ways to grow, and also one of the most likely ways to crash. But like Elon and his rockets, every crash is a step forward. Here’s some examples of how that might apply to you:

As a company, being brave could mean:
• Rebranding in a unique, confident, outside of the industry norm way
• Hiring people to expand your business
• Opening in a new city or market
• Having your own voice

As a individual this could mean:
• Leaving your home town
• Learning something new outside of your typical skillset
• Deciding to freelance / go it alone
• Investing some money in a business idea

Things to think about:
When was the last time you did something brave?
Are you planning anything new?
Do you like feeling safe and comfortable? Or do you like pushing your boundaries?


Thanks for reading.
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