What are two common myths many people have about graphic designers?
1. A big myth is that graphic designers don’t read; they just design pretty pictures, which is not the case. Graphic designers are very interested in content. It’s not just pretty pictures or fine art for its own sake. This is commercial art, and so it’s about selling ideas and making money.
2. The second myth is that graphic designers are not interested in business. In other words, graphic design is not about winning awards—it’s about helping you sell your product. So designers want to know about your product, your content, and what you’re selling. They’ll probably ask questions about what other content you have published, what your brand is, and what your readers are looking for. The answers will enable graphic designers to produce effective, branded, and relevant designs for you.
What if someone doesn’t have a clue what the design should look like?
Trust your designer. Hang out with him and just say, “I don’t know anything about color.” The good graphic designers will stay with you and help educate you.
For example, there’s a great color resource—Pantone.com. The Pantone system is a color-matching system used worldwide. You can go on this website and find all kinds of interesting information about color and the science of color. I’ll often direct my clients to the Pantone color website and invite them to ask questions. But I will generally teach them about the warmth of a color, the coolness of a color, and how that translates into communication for their readers, and how it connects with the concept that they’re trying to get across to readers. It’s the same for typography or even design principles, for that matter.
Sometimes, I’ll just get out a pad of paper and my trusty number two pencil and will just sketch and say, “See, here’s a composition that’s balanced, and here’s one that isn’t.”
And then there are things like white space. Generally, I think people are tempted to say and show more than is necessary. What happens is the message becomes muddy and difficult to comprehend; there’s so much to take in at one time. So we just educate in a gentle way about what can be done and what shouldn’t be done for a design to be efficient and clear.
How can someone start learning the basics of design on their own?
If you don’t know what the design should look like, start by observing the things you see around you that you like. You could find inspiration to show a designer; but, just like copywriters, designers won’t plagiarize.
And inspiration comes in all forms. You could find something on the Internet, you could read a book or see a book jacket cover, a printed piece, go to Barnes and Noble, or you could be at a baseball game, and the way a little kid swings the bat creates an image in your mind. Just write it down and be aware that inspiration is everywhere.
You can bring these ideas to your designer who will immediately understand what you’re saying and showing. He’ll see patterns and understand the tone you’re trying to set. You also want to discuss designs you don’t like; sometimes it’s helpful to discuss this first.
- Graphic designers are creative partners in your communications process.
- If you don’t know much about design, your designer will help educate you about your choices.
- Content is just as important as design.
- Graphic designers understand business; they want to help you sell your product or service.
- Customizing the graphic design to match your content ensures your brand will be unique and stand out.
About Barbara Austin
As the graphic designer & founder of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara loves working with women entrepreneurs to brand their businesses. She shares a variety of small business advice and anecdotes here on the blog. Check back every week for new tips, inspirations, and how-to articles, or subscribe to get regular updates in your inbox each week!