20 Things We Should Never Say to a Graphic Designer (2)

#2 of a 4 part series… part 1

Graphic designers can be hard to communicate with. That’s the reason we communicate with them on our customer’s behalf.

Having worked with designers for about 25 years, it helps that we know the right kind of questions that will move the project along and create a final product that everyone will be happy with. They expend time and energy to come up with ideas, concepts and designs to achieve their goals. Sometimes, our customers will ask us to ask our designers questions that bring the project to a crashing halt, with incorrect assumptions about the design process.

Don’t say: “Can I make just one more change? I promise it’s the last one.”

We are fairly certain that there will probably be other changes after this one. After all, you’ve asked for multiple tweaks already. So let’s just be upfront about it and nicely, apologetically say something like: “I’m so sorry to keep taking up your time like this, but I found another change I’d like to make. Can you change this [word / font / graphic / color]? Feel free to add the extra time for these edits to your invoice. Graphic designers are short on time just like you are, and although they do want to help you make sure the design fits your needs, they also appreciate the acknowledgement that their time is valuable. So next time, try compiling a list of all the changes you’d like to make and hand them over all at once, which is more efficient for everyone.

Don’t say: Can you do something that looks exactly like this [other designer’s work­­­]

Aside from copyright issues (and possible legal consequences), this should be a matter of ethics. No designer should be okay with copying another artist’s work outright, and you shouldn’t expect them to. Instead, try pointing out what you like about the design specifically, and ask your designer to do their own take on the style or try certain elements inspired by the work, like a color scheme, basic layout, or general aesthetic (clean, vintage, bold, etc.).

Don’t say: “Can you use this image I found online?”

Turning to Google for images can backfire in a number of ways. For one, like the previous point, you could run into legal trouble for using a copyrighted image — one that’s not licensed for personal or commercial use. Additionally, it’s likely that the image won’t even look good in your design, or print cleanly, because the resolution is too low. If you’re looking for an alternative to paying for stock photos, there is an increasing number of sources where you can find quality, free stock photos.

Don’t say: “Can you have this done by tomorrow?

Graphic design isn’t an instant process that is done with a few clicks of a mouse. Every project will have its own process and time requirements. Realistically, some designs can be whipped out in a day, while others will take much, much longer. It completely depends on the project (and the designer’s creative process). We usually let him or her know about any time constraints and ask for a realistic estimate on how long the design will take.

Don’t say: “I know someone who works for half that. Could you lower your rate to match?”

Why? Designers set their prices based on multiple components: geography, cost of living, style, skill, experience, and many more. Every designer will have a different combination of strengths and abilities to offer, and there’s no special formula for determining if a designer’s rate is competitive or “fair.” Generally, though, we get what we pay for — so we encourage our clients and prospects to decide what characteristics are most valuable to in the design process (speed? quality? originality? cost? personality?). That’s not to say price negotiation is not an option, but if our first encounter with one of our designers on a particular project is an effort to “lowball” their rate —while expecting the same quality of work — that will be an immediate turnoff, and is disrespectful to the designer, and to us. As with most things…there is always someone who can do it cheaper.