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I’ll Know It When I See It: A Guide to Working with Graphic Designers

“I’m not sure what I want, but I’ll know it when I see It.” These are the last words a graphic designer wants to hear. To them it says that this project will require a lot of time and guesswork. The better able you are to communicate your vision or even just what it is you want the design to convey, the better your final project will be. Not to mention the added perk of your designer and you remaining on speaking terms.

Getting Started

If you don’t know what you want:
What are you trying to say? Ultimately, the purpose of a good design is to communicate something. This is true whether you’re trying to attract people to a destination or sell them bobble-heads. As long as you can distill what your goal and message should be, an experienced designer should be able to provide you with guidance

If you know what you want:
Do a little research and find images of similar brands or campaigns that inspire you. Even a simple Google image search can go a long way toward helping a designer understand where you’re coming from.

Print, Web or Both?
The way something is to be used can substantially affect the way a designer approaches the piece. Some elements lend themselves to one format more than the other and some elements won’t work if used across both, so give this some thought before contacting your designer.

Make Love Not War
If your designer makes a design choice you don’t care for, rather than reject it outright, talk through their rationale for making that choice. You’ll likely still want the change, but any designer worth their salt will have a compelling motivation (like compensating for copy length etc.) that you might be able to help them resolve more efficiently.

Talking the Talk
Like any good relationship, communication is key. Here are a few useful terms to help you speak the same language:

Brand: A visual system that represents your place, business or product.
Brank Mark: Usually just the company icon.
Brand Signature: A full company logo with all its parts
Collateral: Brochures or sell sheets
Font: Though it technically refers to a specific weight, size and style of a typeface, in common parlance it’s used as a synonym for typeface.
Logo: Generic term for a brand signature
Palette: Colors that look nice together (hopefully) in a system.
Pixel Art: Images that are comprised of tiny pixels or squares. These images have limitations and can become blurry if they are printed larger than they are intended for.

Serif: Fonts that have embellishments or strokes at the ends of certain letters.

Sans Serif: Sans means no in Latin, so it’s a typeface without those embellishments.
Vector Art: The short version is that these are graphics that can be scaled to any size without looking blurry.
Visual Hierarchy: It simply means something is designed so that it is read easily and by order of importance.
White/Negative Space: It is the unfilled space in a design that helps keep your project from feeling cramped.
Typeface: A family of fonts that share a similar style.

It’s Human Nature
Graphic designers get excited when they talk to a client that has clearly taken the time to do things right and when they’re excited about a project, they’re going to do better work; it’s human nature.

Written By

Luther Mosher

Before joining to DCI in 2015, Luther had more than five years of experience working as a graphic designer creating brand identities, concept art and presentation design for companies ranging from start ups to established Fortune 500 companies. Luther graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Cartooning and Illustration. His experience lends itself to creating work that borrows from his knowledge of visual storytelling and dynamic composition.

More Articles by Luther Mosher

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