I graduated in 2004 with my graphic design degree. Illustrator 10 was still adequate design software and my Mac was pre-intel. My computer had a 60 gigabyte hard drive. If I relied on those same tools and didn’t look to grow and educate myself in new ways in the design industry, I would cease to remain relevant in meeting the clients needs today.
Graphic design is one of those professions that is constantly changing. Technological advances influence design because it has impact on the capabilities and tools you can use to design, as well as new emerging mediums and venues to design for. Design is also on the cutting edge of style. As often as styles change the trends for design change. Because of this, self-education is very important in remaining at the top of your game in graphic design.
One way to start educating yourself is by listening to podcasts. Discernment is important to distinguish the good from the bad, but a simple search will bring up some of the best podcasts out there. They often involve interviews of graphics designers that are succeeding in the business today. They discuss practical issues and how to deal with common problems. Hearing other people talk about issues you are dealing with in a plain conversational manner really helps give you a current pulse of the industry.
Reading blogs (like this one) is another away to practically stay updated on todays design issues. Some blogs feature a particular designer’s process on a project and how they dealt with the client. They often include pictures showing the first draft to the final product. This may assist you in improving your work-flow or method in dealing with clients properly. It may do nothing more than give you confirmation that you are not crazy and other designers are going through the same struggles you are. Just that little bit can go a long way.