9 Things You Should Never Tell a Graphic Designer

We’ve all had them; those pieces of advice that start with “What you need to do is…” or “If I was you I’d…” or “Trust me, if you do this…”

Whatever profession you’re in, we bet you’ve received little nuggets of ‘wisdom’ from a client that are guaranteed to make you want to: a) Throttle the ‘advice giver’, b) Partake in a lunchtime beer, or c) Carry out a) followed by b).

So if you’re working, or about to work, with a graphic designer, we’ve pointed out the things that you should most definitely avoid saying if you’d like to establish and maintain that all important working relationship.

1. “We’re still working on the copy but can you get started on a draft?”

A design needs to be built around the content, not the other way round! Plus, copy usually evolves as it is being written and honed, so there’s a very good chance that if you put the cart before the horse, the designer is going to be asked to rearrange the design to fit the finished product, and probably more than once.

2. “We want something that looks exactly like X Designer’s work”

It’s fine to be influenced by other professionals in the field, but no self-respecting designer will want to – or legally can – copy another artist’s work. Why not point out the aspects of the design that you particularly like, be it layout, colour scheme, and so on, and invite your designer to take inspiration from those elements.

3. “Can you put it in a format that is easy for us to edit?”

Designers work with specialised software that takes time and training to learn how to get a high quality end result. If you want to tweak the design yourself, you may end up damaging all their hard work. If you need to make edits frequently, why not think about using a more user-friendly format instead, such as Adobe InDesign, which both you and the designer can access.

4. “This will only take you a few minutes”

Really? Are you sure that you know what is involved in the design and that it can be executed that fast? If not, just think about how you would feel if someone made a snap judgement about how much time it should take you to do your job effectively. Maybe “How much time will this take?” is a better option.

5. “Just give us lots of different versions and we’ll pick the ones we like”

It would be unthinkable to say such a thing to a painter or dress designer. You expect to pay them per item rather than per concept. Just because graphic design is executed in a digital format, it doesn’t mean that the person designing is spending any less time on the process.

The ‘picking’ or honing should be done at the briefing stage by giving the designer a clear brief of what you’re after, rather than expecting them to try to read your mind.

6. “But why can’t you just Photoshop it?”

Photoshop is an impressive tool for modifying images, but it can’t work miracles. Accept that from a design perspective, some things may just not be possible; or if they are, they may not be desirable or ethical. Listen to your designer; they want the best results for you so it is in their best interest to give you good advice.

7. “That (referring to the 20th draft) looks great – there’s just one more tiny thing”

Everybody has had one of these – the client who drip-feeds comments and thoughts on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. No designer minds feedback on their work, in fact most of us positively encourage it; however, instead of inundating them with tens of emails, take time to assess the nearly finished design product and then just send one – or at most, two – emails about what you’d like adjusted. Remember, your project is probably not the only one they’re working on.

8. “Can we use this great image I’ve just found on Google?”

Trust us, what your designer probably wants to reply is “Sure, if you’re willing to risk being sued for thousands of dollars for breaking copyright laws”. But they’ll most likely just politely point out that, although you can’t use that very image, you may be able to find a similar one on a stock site or even have a photographer come up with something similar. If you give them a clear brief, they may even be able to deliver something better than the original image.

9. “We can’t afford to pay a fee but it will be great experience that will earn you lots of publicity”

How would you feel if someone said that to you? Designers have rent and bills to pay, just as everyone else, and while they will definitely appreciate exposure, they are not a charity. Don’t assume that people can afford to work for free.

Your graphic designer doesn’t have to be your friend, but they should definitely not be your enemy. Do your best to communicate your ideas clearly and be willing to collaborate. It will really pay dividends for you both in the long run.

Looking for some graphic design advice or some assistance with your next project? The friendly team at Dark Horse are here to help, with years of industry knowledge and expertise, they can help with almost any project, so contact the experts at Dark Horse today.


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