One of the things that has had a big impact on my designs and skill level was having a group of super talented designers to look up to.
These weren’t people I necessarily knew personally - but ones that I found through various design blogs and websites.
These designers were doing the kind of work I dreamed of doing. Everything they touched looked amazing and it was something that pushed me to be better.
If you’re working as a freelance designer or in a small team, this is crucial to developing your skills. It sets the standard at a level that you can strive towards.
Who I follow...
Today, I still follow a lot of the same people, and a few new ones too.
Here are a few that are worth a mention…
ISO50 (Scott Hansen)
I stumbled across Scott’s work early in my career and it’s had a lasting effect. He was probably the first designer I started to follow. These days he’s more focused on his music career (as Tycho), but his stuff is still worth a look.
31Three (Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain)
Jesse is one of those web designers that just doesn't do bad work. Every project is pixel perfect and his work never seems to look dated.
I actually just discovered Aaron’s work recently… he is a master logo designer and a pretty funny guy in general. Check out the video below:
Zeldman is on this list not so much for his design, but more for what he has done for the web design community. He is the Godfather of web standards and one of the most influential people in this space.
This is just the beginning.
Outside of the names mentioned above, there are a ton of others out there doing really cool things. Visit websites like Behance, or browse through Zeldman's podcast guests to find others that can inspire and push you to be a better designer.