Why every designer should start with paper, not Photoshop

Why every designer should start with paper, not Photoshop

Designers come from every background imaginable. They teach themselves, go to art school, or even begin as developers, business owners, etc. But no matter how a designer gets started, somehow the lure catches their eye and ropes them in permanently.

If you’re hooked, there’s typically no going back. You’ll begin absorbing everything you possibly can, reading books, watching tutorials, attending classes or browsing inspiration online. There are so many different ways to build your skill, because design spans across all industries, from automobiles to websites and editorials to hardware.

Like I said, everyone is taught differently and there really isn’t a right or wrong way to learn. But if you’re self taught to work on a computer (like I am), you probably started with one, and use it every step of the way.

It’s genuinely tempting to begin all of your projects with a computer if you’re going to finish there in the end, but the results will be so quickly polished that you’ll settle too early. Your results will keep you from experimenting in the raw.

Drawing is at the heart of every design, and the best way to do it is with a pen or pencil and a sheet of paper. I’m not the only one who believes this, ether. The tactile sensations and permanent nature of a pen on paper helps you actually understand what you’re doing. Your specialized tools don’t really matter when it comes to design foundations anyway, so stripping down to the basics is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Above: Paper Browser wireframe tool

Remove yourself from your medium (in this case, a computer) and push your boundaries as a creator — then bring it all back to the web. The same goes with traditional designers who haven’t yet embraced a computer. Either way, learning and exploring other areas only makes you smarter in the end.

The computer is simply a tool in the entire process, and should be embraced — so long as it isn’t the only tool in your kit, but others have stronger opinions. What do you believe? Is it right to ask web designers to pull out a notebook before they open up Photoshop? Let us know in the comments below.

Read next: Line 6 brings MIDI control and a killer guitar interface to your iPad