6 tips on working (well) with a graphic designer

Event professionals know what it’s like to try to make their clients’ visions come to life. Whether you are creating an entire event based on someone’s vague sketch or a bride’s extensive moodboard, complete with PowerPoint presentation…working as a creative can be a little like mind reading at times. I thought I might be able to shed some light on working with a graphic designer – especially when you hire one to create the most personal piece of your business toolkit – your brand expression. 

1.  Share! 

Bring reference! Pinterest, drawings, websites, design you love, design you hate. Bring it all. I often tell my clients that the more reference they bring, the quicker and more seamless the design process becomes. Think of it this way: the more you can educate the designer about what you want, the more honed in they can get on the final style, without wasting time trying every design solution under the sun. And time is money, right?

2.  It is a collaborative process. 

Just because a designer asks you a ton of questions and the aforementioned library of reference doesn’t mean they aren’t doing their job. I find that the more communication I have with my clients, the better the outcome. Creative people are communicators are heart – we love to connect visually and understand our client’s ideas. 

3. BUT 

Know when to let the person you have hired run with it. There is a lot to be said for not micromanaging the process. After your initial inspiration and idea dump, give the designer some space to do their thing. Just take a deep breath and relax for a bit! It’s time for some wine and tv and you can let someone else do the creating for a bit. Sounds nice!

4. What if I don’t like what the designer came up with?

This is a tough one for everyone involved. If you’ve hired a true professional, they will be able to process your criticism and not take it too personally. Whatever you do,  be clear and concise with your feedback. It might just be something the designer misunderstood. Don’t get angry. You hired this person for their style and talent, so you know they are capable. Good work takes some time.

5. If it still isn’t’ “there”.

If you find that nothing is working and you are paying for round after round of revisions, or just wasting time if the designer charges per project – you might be at the point that you need to reassess. Perhaps the designer isn’t understanding your vision fully or isn’t communicating well. You might be asking for a style or complex illustration the designer simply isn’t capable of. Stop while you’re ahead and move on. As frustrating as that might be, you can at least view the entire experience as a learning process that will help the next designer you hire nail it in the first round.

6. Spread the love.

My favorite tip! If you love it – sing their praises! Blog it, post it, pin it. There’s nothing better than getting a new client through a job well done and a happy former client, as you surely know. Consider it creative karma.


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  • morgan says:

    Great advice, Ann! What we think is common sense isn’t always so common to others 🙂

  • Good article Ann. A client must learn how to approach a graphic designer properly because the output lies on his hands. Learn to interact and communicate well. Be transparent and open to other thoughts and ideas. Its all about working together.

    • annhparker@gmail.com says:

      Thanks, Claud! I think what we as designers sometimes expect for our clients to know is not realistic. There is so much to be said for a creative professional that is personable, open minded and fun to work with. You are right – it’s all about collaboration!