Graphic designers have to quickly understand the entire scope of a project that drops into their laps at a drop of a hat. Within mere minutes they’ve got to estimate time, fonts, images, everything right down to the type of paper that would make the finished product look great. Graphic designers are trained to come up with a concept relatively fast, so you, as a client, will understand how a designer envisions what you would like made.

With that, this post is for those who have dealt with graphic designers before will need graphic design services in the future. This post aims to give you an idea of how graphic designers think, plan and act for every project. My goal is to educate people on how to get in contact and interact with designers to build a solid business relationship for both sides. Many people who seek out graphic design services aren’t aware of all that goes in a design. A common misconception is that everything is super easy with a click of the mouse. Click, boom, we’re done. No, not at all, it’s never like that; designers emotionally invest a lot into their work & take pride in what they do because every design they make has their reputation attached to it.


Before you contact a designer…

Be sure to have a clear understanding of what you would like to have made. If it’s a logo try sketching it first, no matter how bad of a drawer you are; doodle what you see in your mind. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just something you can show as a visual representation to the designer.  If you have colours in mind jot them down too.

Why a sketch? Isn’t that the designers job?

Having a sketch is great for a designer because 9 out of 10 times a client will say,  “I don’t know, make something up and go from there. When I see it, I’ll know” leaving the designer  to wonder what direction he or she should take because 9 times out of 10 a client, when presented with the concepts will say, “I don’t like any of these, can you make some more concepts for me to see?”.  The sketch will alleviate any unnecessary time used up in the concept stage; see it as:  The time used to make all these concepts could have been used to create three concepts based off of your sketch, which would have moved your project along faster. This is really what everyone wants in the end.

Multiple Projects? Make a list!

If you have multiple projects that are required, make a list in order of importance and then supply some, if not all, the information required. Graphic designers understand that having all the information at once may not be possible, but some information will be needed or required for a specific project & he or she will tell you if this is the case.


Contacting your designer…

If you have a clear understanding of what you need done, you can now contact a designer. Ask if they are taking new clients (much like a dentist, taking in new patients); ask about credentials, portfolio and turn around time.

Taking in new clients

Graphic designers are busy people, expecting a designer to squeeze in your project can come across very pushy depending on his or her current work load. So, be sure to ask if they are able to take on a new project and go from there. More than likely, he or she will be more than happy to start a project with you and will be more inclined to work with you based on the fact that you’ve respectfully asked about taking in new clients.

Check out the portfolio

Be sure to look at their portfolio. You’ll able to judge a designer’s style just by looking through their body of work (much like a tattoo artist). Check to see if alignment of text is good, colours that are used, that each design has a nice flow to it and that there is NEVER comic sans used in a design (unless it’s for a daycare).

Turn around time

If you are expecting to have a design made in little or no time, check with the designer to see what he or she expects for a turn around time. Never call up a designer two days before a deadline asking for a highly detailed poster, or brochure.  This isn’t professional and shouldn’t be dropped on a designer’s shoulders.


Working with your designer…

Working alongside a designer can be a fun learning experience. You’ll understand how he or she plans out projects, communicates and get a feel of over all attitude.

Project Management

Graphic designers, programmers and web designers all have an action plan either in their mind or written down; a set of guidelines that are put in place for each project that comes in. Every designer has a different process; some designers use minimal steps to create something, whereas others have an absurd amount of processes they go through to make a design. The biggest thing to look out for is that everything presented to you is cohesive, understandable and on the mark. If the designer fails in any of those criteria, open a line of communication, because obviously communication has faltered somewhere.

Keep a line of communication open

Communication for a graphic designer is imperative, graphic designers use communication everyday on many levels: Emails, phone, texts, social media & visual communications are just some of the daily routines used by a graphic designer. This is why  client & designer must be on the same page!  It’s important that you maintain a steady level of communication with your designer so that everyone stays on the same page and projects moving along smoothly. When graphic designers don’t hear from a client in days (especially when they’re working on your project) it raises a lot of red flags.  Be truthful and up front about what’s going on if there is cause for delay in communication. This is a responsibility on both sides. NEVER just stop communication, ignore emails, or phone calls and even texts from your designer.  By doing this your reputation becomes iffy and untrustworthy.

Attitude: Happy? Pessimistic? Over Controlling?

Everyone has a lot on their plate, dealing with projects on the go, projects coming in, emails and demands going on in their lives. At times, this can spill over into the business side of things. Designers are great people to know and have an relationship with and as long as it is kept professional and in check, every project that you bring to your designer will be done with tender loving care.

As a client, making a graphic designer happy can be done with minimal effort: be understanding, open to ideas, don’t change big items at the last minute and NEVER go over board with control.  Over-controlling is a bad personality flaw in any aspect, never do this to a designer. If you feel that there are many things that you need from your designer, make a list and give it to him or her. This will stop micro-managing and get the tasks you need done faster than nagging constantly.

 Your opinion does matter

As a client it’s up to you to convey the message you want to get out to the world. So be informative, educate your designer about your business and state what will work and not work for the design. But, do not tell your designer how to do his or her job. This is a very bad move to make and should be avoided at all costs. Graphic designers invest a lot into resources, schooling, time and effort in what they do. Be respectful and your designer will respect you.


 Finishing up a project…

Now the project is wrapped up and is ready to go to print, be posted on your website or ready to launch. You’ve worked alongside your designer, learned a lot about each others personality directly or indirectly. Now what? If the designer was great to work with, did an amazing job, and exceeded your expectations be sure to tell him or her your appreciation. This will be great for karma, because if you ever need a last minute project your designer will help you out no problem. Graphic designers like good feedback (if you tell us our hair looks pretty and you’ll have it by noon the next day!).

Be sure to keep your balance in good standing. Graphic designers are people with bills and families. We make our living with the ability to create designs, in a market that can be unstable at times. Like any product or service, when you’ve received something that is beneficial to you payment is necessary; don’t flake out, make excuses and cause your designer to have a minor panic attack.  You just never know in the future when you may need to ask a favour from he or she. Graphic designers deal with a lot of shady clients that don’t have their best interest at heart. There are many websites located on the internet that showcase dealing with bad, sneaky, over-aggressive clients, so remember: happy graphic designer = happy design work.

There are many other instances to consider when seeking out a graphic designer; I’ve covered the basics of what to look out for, how to communicate and how to keep a good relationship with your graphic designer. As long as you are passionate about your business and have the drive to see it succeed, every graphic designer will be more than willing to help your business succeed and present your professional identity like a great light.