7 Ways to Create Your Own Unique Style in Design


Let’s be honest: the big secret to becoming a well-known and super successful designer is to have your own unique style. Sure you’ll bag some clients by perusing tutorial sites, but when you really develop your own style, that’s when you’ll own the world! For some, this is fairly easy, but for some this is a tough task. Well 1WD has compiled a list for you so you can  get started on creating your own unique style.

1. Take Your Own Pictures

Chances are, if you’re using a stock site (especially a free one), you aren’t the only one who has used that particular stock picture. While designers may have their own style, there’s something a bit unsettling about finding two different designs using the same stock photos. If you have the capability, go out there and take your own pictures. Digital cameras nowadays are becoming more and more affordable with better technology. This really allows you a chance to be unique by not just using original pictures, but your shooting technique may be something worth watching out for. A bonus for taking these pictures is the ability to offer something new to the design world. This can help contribute to your popularity by submitting your photos to stock photo websites and popular design blogs.

2. Use Your Scanner

I’ve seen many designers (including myself), who use this technique: when you are almost finished with a design and it still needs that ‘umph’, whip out some printer paper and draw some stuff on it, whether it be characters or scribble lines. Fire up your scanner and scan in it into your project. You can doctor up your image a bit by using your filters or by live tracing it in Illustrator. Either way, you get something that is entirely from you and represents your artistic side. Don’t just stop at drawing things either, scan in different textures or items. If it can fit, try scanning it! You never know what kind of effect or look running it through the scanner gives. Using this technique can give a design a very individualistic feel, whether you can draw or not!

3. Edit Your Fonts

Don’t get me wrong. There are a ton of great fonts out there, some of which are free. Font designers are also pretty consistent in releasing fonts, so there’s a lot to choose from. However, the truth is, when the design world finds a good font, we kind of latch onto it and it spreads like wildfire. Everyone uses it. In an attempt to change the monotony of typography, why not edit your fonts so the look may change a bit. Whether you decide to just change your tracking or leading or adding or subtracting something, make it your own. And what happens when you can’t find that PERFECT font? Make your own! You don’t have to create a whole type set, but oftentimes, when I feel stuck looking for that perfect typeface, I’ll just grab my pen tool and make my own font.

4. Use Other Design Programs

It’s pretty popular to use  Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator in the design world, and while are industry standard, you may not be able to do everything in them or at least get the look you are going for. Do some research and look for programs that are specific to the types of techniques you’d like to incorporate in your designs. Try pairing your designs with different programs such as Cinema4D or any other design programs. You have the potential to make really complex yet stunning designs people can’t try to copy by using just Photoshop. The outcome could be greatness!

5. Make Your Own Patterns

There are plenty of tutorials on how to create your own patterns, so why not make your own? If I am looking for some uniqueness, I will quickly and easily make my own patterns. Making your own patterns works the same way as snapping your own photos does. There are tons of patterns online and pattern designers (like myself) release designs almost constantly. Once one gets really popular, though, it becomes the new standard quickly. Creating your own can not only give you a sense of uniqueness, but if the pattern is really good and useful, why not release it and give variations of it to the world? Whether you decide to share or not, if you just use some creativity, you can come up with some crazy beautiful patterns no one has ever seen (or thought of) before.

6. Break the Rules a Little Bit

In the design world, there can be a lot of different rules about where to put what and how to make whatever. There are different styles that you can design within that may or may not have more rules than another. Break the rules a bit and create something you wouldn’t normally see. Blend different styles and forms and come up with designs that need their own category. Breaking the rules is really about being a trendsetter and creating a bit that people wouldn’t normally consider. Don’t go too nuts or try to reinvent the wheel, but use subtle differences that could mean the difference between one style and another. Taking the time to cultivate this technique could really end up being a part of your signature style.

7. Use Filters Subtly

This one is particularly for the newbies; when you get into your design program (we’ll use Photoshop as the example), it’s easy to want to use the filters and use them heavily. The result can sometimes end up being a very cheesy look, but I say use your filters subtly and see what you can come up with. Sometimes when using your distort filters and artistic filters lightly, you can end up with some really nice sophisticated looks. Some of those ‘cheesy’ filters when used lightly can create a pretty neat look!

This is just a short list, but the idea here is to just be as creative as possible! And as technology increases, try to incorporate as much as possible into your designs. If you are really working on trying to create your new style, try going into your design program and not use a thing that doesn’t belong to you. Create your own patterns and your own brushes and fonts. Don’t rely heavily on design resource aggregate sites to take your work to the next level. After all, that is someone else’s work which are just trying to pass off as yours. Do your own thing. No holds barred!

Do you have any tips and tricks that have taken your work from cookie cutter to standout?



  1. Iwan

    This article comes handy in a time where I’m creating my first web site from scratch. I’m trying to create something different with the little knowledge I have and this article inspired me even more.Different design programs will render a different look or style.

  2. shekhzz

    Hey…. Creativity never ends …. so, appreciable article from you i liked your post …. ;)

  3. Frankly I do not understand what it means to have their own style into the design. It’s closer to art. Maybe you mean come up with your chip? Unlikely you’ll come up with a new style. Any of your design can already be attributed to a certain style.

  4. Ben

    Kendra thank you! I’ve never experimented with the filters, going to go have a little play around now. Do you have anymore article that explain the best use of filters in depth? Tutorial like…

  5. Chris

    The ability to take photos for our clients is a huge one that they really seem to appreciate, and is a great value add on web and design projects during the proposal phase. Great points all around – thanks!

  6. Bryant Jaquez

    I LOVED THIS POST!!!!!!!!!!! Honestlly. I found your site from twitter ( I am now following you) and I decided to come take a look around, usually I look at a site once and never return. but I will definitlly be checking int this blog again. thanks for the great article. I agree with the own photos/scanner tips.

  7. Dianne

    This is an interesting post. In this competitive world in order to stand out you need to be unique. Being unique and different gives a positive impression. Great tips. A generous share of information. Thanks.

  8. Cool, nice article, I think I’m going to start using some pictures taken by my self, I mean, I like vector websites but I agree pictures are important too.

  9. I love the scanner idea. I can think of a million things I could do. Someone once mentioned to me that she does “scanography” as a hobby, but I had never thought to use it in my own work.

  10. Nanang Gunawan

    Right ,,, designer must have unique style, no copy and no paste.

    thanks for good article…

  11. Wendy

    Really inspiring article Kendra, most people stick to using only one design program and repeat some memorised steps in everything they do… this is the first mistake.

    • Kendra Gaines

      I agree with you! We’ve always got to continue growing and creating new techniques and styles.

  12. barog

    creativity is unlimited and you have demonstrated how creativity is created. inspiring articles..

  13. Tom Ross

    Great post! I really agree that designers should strive to be more unique in their daily work. I’d already considered all of these points, except for the one about using other design programs. That’s a great idea to help mix things up, and I’ll definitely be trying it!

    • Kendra Gaines

      Definitely. Different design programs will render a different look or style. Best of luck with you.

  14. This article comes handy in a time where I’m creating my first web site from scratch. I’m trying to create something different with the little knowledge I have and this article inspired me even more.

    Thanks so much for it! :)

  15. Lydia E. Cook

    Visualize the idea by closing your eyes and draw them first in pencil. If working for others, listen to what they want, their passion and their reasons. Make a list and find the main Idea.