As graphic designers, it’s natural to be passionate about all the awesome resources we come across while browsing our favorite sites. New fonts, free vectors, icon packs… There’s a ton of free stuff out there and that’s amazing, the problem is that we freely have access to too much stuff. This leads to hoarding tons of graphic design resources that we might need someday, despite the fact that most of them are never used. What they really end up doing is hampering our creativity and slowing down our workflows.
I’ve been guilty of this myself. When I was first getting started as a designer, I would install every cool font I came across, collecting thousands of them that never saw the light of day. When I was clicking download link after download link my thought process was something like, “wow this font is really cool, I might use this on a project someday. And hey, it’s free, so why not?”. Eventually I realized that cluttering up my hard drive with tons of superfluous resources had way more cons than pros. Here are a few reasons to stop hoarding:
- Speed: If you’re like me, you probably lay out your type in the design you’re working on, then start scrolling through fonts to find something that fits. If you have 1000’s of fonts, this could take hours. It’s much faster to simply keep your favorites handy, and download specialized fonts as you need them on a per-project basis. Not to mention all those extra fonts are causing your Creative Suite to load slower.
- Freedom: A lot of designers I know bog themselves down by trying to fit pre-made assets into designs they’re not suited for. If you’re working on a car ad, and you already have some stock photos of cars downloaded, chances are good that you’re going to try to force yourself to utilize the stock photos you already have rather than creating/finding the perfect asset that would really make the project shine.
- Creativity: Sure, pre-made design resources are a great way to save time. You drag and drop, and boom, you’ve got something ready to go. The problem with this is that it’s not truly yours. You’re a designer, put those creative muscles to work and make something of your own that has your own personal touch to it. That’s why we got into this in the first place, right?
- Space: While hard drive space is getting cheaper by the day, it still pays to avoid wasting storage on useless assets. That hard drive you’re using to store all those free vector logos you found would be better served acting as a backup for your archived projects… Or a paper weight for that matter.
- Time: Searching for free stuff, downloading it, organizing it… It all takes time. Doesn’t it make more sense to simply wait until you’re working on a project that requires a specific resource and look for it then? That way you get exactly what you need, when you need it, without all the extra clutter.
Don’t get me wrong, design resources are great when used correctly. There’s nothing wrong with downloading a couple of fonts that fit a specific project or a few stock photos that work for the magazine spread you’re working on. The problem comes when we start downloading stuff “just in case”. As I said before, we all do this, I’m guilty of it myself, but I’ve downsized much of the clutter compared to what it once was and I’ve never looked back. I would also like to point out that hoarding resources is not the same as keeping a swipe file for inspiration, which I encourage everyone to do (if you don’t know what a swipe file is, check out my write-up here).
I challenge you to be brave and delete that dusty old “Resources” folder that you haven’t opened in months. Pick out the fonts that you use on a regular basis and ditch the rest. Don’t be a graphic design hoarder.