When tasked with listing what makes a great designer:
The first thing you need to have is deeply nurtured understanding for design fundamentals: typography; grid systems; spatial use; etc. This is probably what is meant by the mythical ‘a keen eye for design’, as emblazoned on every designer job description since 1997. Which, since we’re at it, the only thing mythical about this term is that it is, itself, a myth. There is nothing innate or ’special’ about being able to to identify good* design. I’m pretty confident that any person under the sun can tune their eye (more like their right hemisphere) given enough time and effort, sure it may come easier to some (upbringing surely plays a part) but that’s arguably beside the point
A relentless ability that allows you to effectively express your encyclopaedic design knowledge in your work in an efficient and functional manner. I’m not really referring to mastery of the most recent software and hardware (I guess I should include coding here as well), a designer’s ability to use the tools available have been crucial regardless of the era they have operated in. We can all agree that great designers have been around since long before Adobe Creative Suite made an appearance. I’ve met amazing designers who’s key skillset in this regard rests with their masterful use of pen and pencil or even, quite simply, the art of conversation.
Discipline: the art of making great decisions is not we should take lightly
*from one conundrum straight into the other. What is good design? I’ll definitely write about this in the future, but for now