As a graphic designer, I understand that choosing a graphic designer is no easy task. Let’s face it, there are plethora of graphic designers out there today and although it may seem like we all do the same thing, it is important to understand that this is far from the truth. This article will show you some of the considerations you should make before hiring one for your business or creative projects.
Graphic design is a vast field
First and foremost, it is important to understand that graphic designers have specialty within their field. Like any profession, such as a doctor or a car mechanic, good graphic designers have a specialty and often concentration towards a specific focus in the design field. Although many graphic designers are diverse in regards to the medium they work with (such as print and the web), it is important to ask a potential graphic design candidate what they are specifically good at. I have traditional experience and practice in print design but my specialty just happens to be in web design, interactive media, and web advertising. Now if someone were to look for a graphic designer that is good with product packaging design, I may not be the best person for them, although I may have the experience.
When you are looking for a graphic designer, the first question you may want to ask is what their specialty is. If you are looking for someone to design a business logo for you, a web designer may not be the best option for you. Or if you are looking for a web designer, a graphic designer with strong specialization (and only specialization) in print design may not be the best choice for you either. Remember that although the graphic designer you are considering may not be the best match for now, keep their information because they may come in usefulness in the future.
How to spot a graphic designer’s specialty
I know it is a time-consuming task to go through written (e-mail) or oral (phone call) conduct with every single designer you find. One of the best advice I can give you in regards to finding a graphic designer with a specialty that you are looking for is through their portfolio. They always say that pictures are worth a thousand words and their portfolio is a strong example of this. Most graphic designers will showcase their best work, and you will be able to tell from just looking at their portfolio in regards to what they are good at and what their focus is.
This pretty much goes without saying, but the experience of the graphic designer is definitely something to consider. If the graphic designer has had more experience on the web but not too much in print, he/she may not be suitable for print jobs. Of course it is always wise to ask the designer yourself about their experience in certain mediums.
Client list should not be part of your consideration
Some graphic designers have a list of clients they have worked for in the past (such as myself), but do not let this be any guide to your decision-making. Working with big name clients is a good experience that yield good results later on for the graphic designer, but this doesn’t make the designer any better than someone who has only worked for small or no-name companies. The truth about graphic designers is (especially freelance designers), most of them work for small or no-name companies more than they work with big name clients. The opportunity is more available from small to no-name companies than there is for companies such as Nike, Coke, or a big bank for example. The most important thing to understand is, just because a graphic designer did not work for a big name client does not mean they lack the experience. What you should look for are graphic designers who have worked for many different businesses rather than just one or two. Experience comes from all angles and it is better to hire a graphic designer who have a vast range of design styles than just one or two.
Educational experience is a valuable asset to a graphic designer, although not all of them have such experience under their belt. If you come across a graphic designer that does not have any educational experience, but has great talent, it should not prevent you from hiring them. Educational experience does not really mean anything in the field of graphic design, as it is really about the talent and their caliber of execution they can deliver. The truth about graphic designers is, although they may have a bachelors or masters in design, this does not mean they will or are great designers. Great designers continue to learn after their education and that is what shapes them in the long run. Design education usually teaches a graphic designer the basic fundamentals, theory, and principles of design. However, make note that with the ever-growing field of technology and graphic design, it is vital for every designer to keep at pace with the changing world. As someone looking for a graphic designer, this is something you need to look for. Do they have a website? Which social media platforms are they a part of? How do they integrate software and computer technology with their design?
Pay attention to their design style
Every graphic designer has a specific style that they have grasped over time. Just because they specialize in design, it does not mean they can do all the styles out there in the world. For instance, my specialization is in luxury design, corporate, and digital abstract advertisement. I can tell you from the start that if you are looking for a designer to do something that caters towards children, I probably won’t be a good choice for you.
It is important to look and pay attention to the design style by reviewing their portfolio. Someone who is good at corporate design will have a good number of examples related to that style since they are good at it. Again, portfolio is the most important element of any designer and it is important for you to acknowledge it as such.
You get what you pay for
The realty about pricing and design is, just like any product or service out there, you really do get what you paid for. If you are looking for a professional and great looking design, it is and will become an investment. Would you trust a car mechanic that only charges $20 to fix your engine? Would you hire a lawyer that charges merely $100.00 to stand trial for you? The answer is most likely not, because you know how much these services cost and you know that it sounds too good to be true. I understand that design service may not cheap, but you have to also understand that it is not cheap because it takes time, lots of effort and planning to execute the best design for your business. One core thing to remember about design is that good design takes time to conceive and execute. Now it is not to say that we respect and deliver within the deadlines our clients set, but it is important to give designers you hire a fair amount of time to deliver the work you are requesting for optimal result. Professional graphic designers know what to charge and how to price their creative service, and with that knowledge, they will deliver you outstanding work for the amount you pay for.
What about graphic designers who are beginners?
This really goes hand in hand with you understanding the experience of the graphic designer you are considering. You will most likely know right away when a graphic designer is just a beginner and it is important to consider that and the type of work you will receive from the start. It is true that everybody starts off as a beginner and it is important to give them a chance, but do note that graphic designers who charge less are most likely less experienced than their professional counterparts.
Make sure you know their creative license policy
It is true that contracts that you have to sign for a graphic design service is partially to protect the designer, but as a client, it is very important for you to understand the terms of ownership to the artwork. Make sure that the contract your graphic designer gives you has a section that promises ownership of the artwork that they create. This is very important for you in the long run because some graphic designers (I never do this) recycle work that they have done before and alter it slightly. It is important to ask them that the artwork they create for you is solely yours and they can only use the artwork they have made for you for their promotional purposes.
*It is always a custom right for graphic designers to use their artwork in their portfolio for future jobs and projects. Taking this right away from a graphic designer will probably prevent them from working with you. If there is a non-disclosure involved, it is important to give them a specific date that they have to wait until displaying the work.
Trust your designers
Once you feel like you have found a good graphic designer, it is important to take their advice as much as possible. Graphic designers know that you understand the business side of things better than they do, however, remember that you are hiring a graphic designer because they are experts in what they do. It is always important to trust the graphic designer in regards to creative execution, how things look, and why they do things in a particular fashion. Although it is important to oversee and direct certain things, it is also important to give up control when it comes to creative execution and decisions.
With that said, I hope that this guide can give you some clear insight into hiring a graphic designer for your business or projects. If you are looking for a graphic designer specializing in print and website design, I am always looking for new opportunities and connections. E-mail me at: chris[at]christakakura.com to receive more information about my services and what I maybe able to do for you! Of course it would always be good to look at my work here.
My name is Chris Takakura, I am an art director and visual designer servicing businesses and studios around the world. I specialize in print design, brand/identity, with a strong concentration in web design & front-end development. I am always looking to connect and be involved in creative projects, so if you are interested in my creative services, please contact me here.