Well, the time has come. It’s time for me to retire. Yes, retire! After 35 years of working as a graphic designer for other companies and corporations, I am now going to work for myself. Which is the graphic designer’s equivalent of retirement. Because, you see, you just can’t quit cold turkey! First, I’m building my own Etsy shop, then there’s always the freebies for family and friends, and then charity work. It’s always good to give graphically.
But before I go I wanted to send a note to all graphic design clients. I have a small list of three that may help you when working with another of my creative ilk.
1. There is no such thing as a graphics emergency.
Let me be brutally honest. Unless you call 911 and the EMT tells you that the only thing that will stop the bleeding is a well-designed graphic, then the problem is simply that you did not plan ahead. Oh, I know there are some genuine “rush” scenarios. The CEO’s parachute didn’t open and the new fellow takes over a week before the annual report is being printed. That’ll cause a bit of a panic graphically speaking. But, really, how often does that happen?
2. Graphic design is a linear process from one point in time to another.
It’s a time-intensive. We start with a blank piece of paper or monitor and go from there. Building and adding elements, text, shapes and colors. We test ideas and toss ideas until there is something to present to the client. Graphics don’t grow on trees and we cannot produce them fully grown at the snap of a finger. I know it’s hard to believe, but I have never been sitting on a fully developed concept just to have a client call and say, “That’s exactly what I wanted!!!” Oh, don’t get me wrong. Graphic designers have tons of wonderful ideas and we play and draw and create all of the time. But not once has one of them been ready before a client asked.
3. Sometimes it’s not about what a client “likes.”
This is a hard one. I had a client that would never let me use green. She didn’t like green. One of the brand colors was green, but we never used it on her projects. (Try to design an Earth Day poster with no green.) The project request and approval should be about what solves the current project dilemma and brings everyone closer to the goal of a finished presentation. Corporate branding, time constraints and various limitations may mean that on this project you won’t get your best-ever concept done on time or budget. As I said, this is a hard one.
That’s it. Just three things. I’ve tried to find non-abrasive ways to say these things to clients over the years. Sometimes I managed and sometimes I just gave up. But even as demanding and pesky as clients can be, there is no better way to make a living. Really.