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13 Things Graphic Designers Want You To Know


1. When you ask us to do something for free, you’re delegitimizing what we do for a living.

Of course asking for a quick design from a close friend isn’t the end of the world; I’m no stranger to throwing things together for family and friends without asking for anything in return. What they often don’t know is that I would charge strangers hundreds of dollars (sometimes much more) for the very thing they just received scotch-free. The problem with doing this, you ask? People begin to take advantage. I’ve come to realize that the only people that understand this struggle are fellow creatives. When it comes to having years and years of experience, no self-respecting designer creates for free. To learn a little more about this very common problem, check out this article.

2. Please don’t ask us to create a logo for $50.

I’ve had close friends ask me to create a logo in the past few years that they (a) never intended on paying me for and even sometimes (b) didn’t even end up using. Your/your company’s logo is the overall representation of yourself or your business. I could go on and on about this topic, but here are 10 reasons why a logo should never cost less than $200. My rate is usually around $250 for a family/friend’s simple logo.

3. When we do give you a design quote on a project, it is an estimate.

It’s really easy to tell you it’s going to cost around $75 to create a simple poster when we’re assuming you know exactly what you need. And in most cases it’s ideal to be able to match the original quote at the end of the project. However, that $75 estimate is assuming that you don’t come back with edits after getting opinions from your partner, mother-in-law, and 2nd cousin twice-removed. Things change, prices adjust.

4. We really wish you would get your ducks in a row BEFORE having us begin a project.

There are two types of designers in the world. The designers who prefer to have all of the information for a project in front of them before hand, and designers who are masochists. I promise, there is a not a single one of us who wants you to give us 32 edits on the resume we’re making for you (unless we charge by the edit). I can’t say how many times I was given little to no information, took a lot of time and energy to create something I was proud of, only to have the client give me what they actually wanted after the fact. Propoint Graphics hits the nail on the head with this subject in this article.

5. Using words like ‘fun’ or ‘exciting’ to describe how you want something to look is like telling the Nordstrom employee you’re looking specifically for “that sexy black dress.”

I promise you, your idea of fun and exciting is not my idea of fun and exciting. When you want something to ‘really stand out’ chances are you’re picturing something differently than I am. And that’s perfectly okay, as long as you give examples of how exactly you want this “flyer to POP!”

6. You get what you pay for.

I think this is great to remember in almost any creative industry. A great designer will always create great work, as will great photographers, videographers, etc. If you hire an amateur and pay an amateur price, you are going to receive amateur work. If it’s important to you, delegate more money toward it.

7. Just because there is free space doesn’t mean you should use it.

Ever heard the phrase “less is more”? …..we looked into it, and it is. Less is more. I come across this so often in the banking/mortgage industry. The average client is so set on conveying every bit of information that it ends up getting lost upon the audience. Hint: Choose a hook, catch your audience’s interest, and encourage them to take action towards your intended goal.

8. We know what we’re doing.

When I was 16 I helped create the yearbook pages that my high school classmates will have to look at 50 years from now. I sat through 4 years of classes that taught me all the ins and outs of being a graphic designer and professional marketer. I worked for years at internships that taught me how to put pen to paper in real-life settings. I’ve held several positions post-graduation where I handle most, if not all, of very successful companies’ design projects. I have been doing this for a third of my lifetime. As much as I love getting input from clients, at the end of the day I’m not going to tell a surgeon how to do their job; I trust that their education and experience will help reach my objective.

9. Not all of us are full-time freelancers.

I’ve said in previous posts what a forgetful person I am, and it occasionally interferes with the side work that I do. Working a 9-5 with a 45 minute commute, taking coding classes, staying involved in organizations and getting to the gym leaves stifled spare time. If we’re taking time out of our weekends to design something for you, please try to be as available to communicate as we are making ourselves. Or, at the very least, be understanding to longer design times.

10. No, you cannot use that image you found on Google.

Google images are not a free for all. That really awesome picture you want to use for a flyer, another creative used their time and resources to create. It’s pretty easy to assume (unless you have the original photo owner’s permission) that you can’t use an image you randomly found online legally. Research free stock photo websites or invest in a paid account on a stock website.

11. Not all images are created equal.

A 50×50 pixel sized image is not going to stretch to 1000×1000 pixels. Realistically it’s not even going to stretch to 100×100 legibly. Please don’t ask us to stretch a tiny photo, it hurts our hearts.

12. Simple fonts are your friend.

I know that this font you found on pinterest is really cool. A designer spent months creating it to look really cool. That does not mean this really cool font will look really cool on your project. With “handwritten” script fonts being all the rage, it’s easy to crowd a piece and butcher a beautiful font. Design is all about balance, most of the time keeping your font simple will allow room for creativity elsewhere.

13. If it’s so easy, you do it.

I know this comes off with a sassy tone, but I actually don’t mean it that way. My roommate is currently working on a dual-degree MBA at Loyola (right?!). She often has marketing projects that a design background really compliments but she doesn’t have InDesign, Photoshop, etc. While she asks me for help when she needs it, she regularly tries to create something first with free software and often succeeds. If you need something done and you don’t believe it’s worth paying for, try creating it yourself. You’ll either surprise yourself, or realize maybe that $100 (in comparison to $600 for the Adobe Suite) isn’t too steep after all.

Creatives- what issues do you come across when working with clients unfamiliar with your industry? Designers- what client horror stories do you have that reflect my points?

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