• Team DesignerShala

Work Ethics as a Design Student

Updated: Oct 9

Who says work ethics are only important for a design professional? Whether you are already a part of the design industry or are still a fashion design student, work ethics is your bible. We say, just like other aspects of your career as a designer, you must also start practising your work ethics early on. So, when you get out there as a design professional, you are not only equipped with the right techniques and aptitude but also the right work ethics. That, my friend, is what backs your success in the long run. Consider your work ethics as the catalyst to your career and of course, your life as a student. But, what exactly are work ethics? No, they are not exactly a set of dos and don’ts that surround your work practice. These are, in fact, basic principles that define you as a designer and your work as well. These are practices that enhance the quality of your work like a cherry on top of the cake. Consider these as your inexhaustible set of traits that will not only fuel your personal and professional growth but also sustain it. So, without much ado, here are some work ethics you need as a design student and later, as a designer.

Source: Photo by Corinne Kutz on unsplash 1. Ample Research

As a design student, research is one of the essential pathways to successful artworks that inspire. Research for design projects can usually be done in two forms - primary and secondary. Wondering what they are? Let us simplify it for you. Primary research includes taking inspiration from your day to day objects, sceneries, or even conversations. You could be sitting at a railway station lost in deep thought and something eye-catching could lead to an idea for an intriguing design. While this research comes pretty naturally to each one of us, paying attention to details makes all the difference.


Secondary research on the other hand is very different from the primary one. This research includes reading up on different artists, following incredible designers and deriving inspiration from artworks at various online sites or exhibitions for your next design. So, in retrospect, secondary research is ideally looking into the research of others – books, movies, reports, research papers, analysis, etc.

2. Credit your Sources

Taking inspiration from different sources to create your design isn't wrong, but make sure you fully credit them, no matter what format your design is. Plagiarism is a real concern in the creative industry, where there seems to be a thin line between inspiration and plagiarism. There are times when in an attempt to seek inspiration from a source, you may end up copying certain elements of that work. Now, that is absolutely unacceptable.

However, if you end up using a source purely for inspiration, it is fair to credit them as a token of thanks. Even though you may feel your design has turned out to be much different from the source but carries some elements from that, credit it. It is so important to rightfully credit your source or you could land in an ugly legal battle that could affect your credibility and your entire career.

3. Set Your Deadlines

As much as we could wish that we didn’t have deadlines, fortunately, we do. Why, fortunately, you wonder? Well, if not for these deadlines, would we even strive for perfection with consistency and discipline? Discipline is called an admirable quality for a reason, right? And, it is in your hands to maintain these deadlines diligently and smoothly in your life as a student. Because after the completion of your studies, when you step out in the real world, you may be daunted by the turnaround time expected from you.


While succumbing to unrealistic deadlines is not the practical way to work, making your client wait for a really long time isn't either. The bottom line is that your school deadlines may wait but the fashion industry doesn’t. So, it is best to consider your deadlines as an important skill as a design student. To keep up with every curve ball pushed in your way, here’s a trick that has proven to work wonders at every stage of a creative job. Maintain a 3 day and maximum 7-day window as your personal deadlines before the original deadlines. This gives you enough leeway before the original deadline to work on your design and avoid end-moment panic.

Source: Photo by Mimi Thian on unsplash 4. Team Work

Teamwork, as a concept has always evoked different emotions in each one of us over the years. While some of us dread it, others look at it as an exciting challenge, and it very well should be the latter. In the design industry, getting accustomed to working with a team is extremely important. When you work and are out there in the professional world, you will have ten different creative heads working on one thing. And, if not working then definitely contributing to your design with personal inputs and opinions.

So, it is a given that working with a team is a skill that you must master back in your studying days itself. It not only helps you build and enhance your own ideas but also makes you more responsible towards your timelines. Working in a team will bring you many opportunities to handle different aspects of a big project. It will help you understand where your strengths lie and how you could contribute to your team in the best way possible. You may also get the chance to lead your team to success, which in turn would add bonus points to your portfolio.

5. Networking

In a creative field, networking is extremely important for a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions. Once you graduate, a vast network of creative professionals always comes in handy to find work and more influential contacts. During your tenure at your design school or academy, try building a strong networking base by reaching out to industry experts and your faculties for active feedback and critique on your work. Let their views not only help you enhance your work and grow as an artist but also turn you into a responsible professional. Gain industry insights from them and find out what opportunities await you in the outside world. Attend art exhibitions, offline and online art events, and fashion festivals to meet new people, build contacts, and expand your horizons.

6. Openness to Criticism

Taking feedback and criticism in a positive stride is one of the major building blocks to success. While creativity is quite subjective, sometimes just knowing how other people might perceive your art helps you learn and grow. It gives you an idea as to how you can get your message across in a better and simpler way. As a student, you can spend your time at your school wisely by interacting with your peers and faculty, showing them your work and understanding their views on the same. Make points that will help you decode the viewer psyche and let the feedback guide you rather than demotivate you.

7. Willingness to Learn

Every designer has their own style, own set of ideas and execution plans. While creativity is subjective and cannot be compared, you need to understand that learning and the scope for improvement in this field are endless. Don't be too rigid with your style, try different options and practice them to find out what works best for the project assigned. Be up to date with the latest design trends and be open to learning more. The more you experiment with your designs, the more versatile you become as an artist.

8.Be a student of the world

No matter where you come from, your ideas and concepts shouldn't have to be limited to one place or region only. Just like art does not have any particular target audience, your designs shouldn't be specific to a certain group of people. As a creative person, you are free to draw inspiration from all parts of the world focusing on all different aspects, from natural beauty to social issues.

Lastly, pursue your work and study as a fashion designer who is fuelled with confidence, positivity, and curiosity at all times.

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