Monday, August 25, 2014

5 Tips to Keep Your Designer Happy

Whew! You guys really got into the discussion last week. I love how much thought you put into your comments. Like most of you, I think a link would be interesting, but I don't necessarily believe there's a definitive one. Right now, it seems to be more of a visibility thing.

Anyhoo, on to this week's topic! 

Dealing with a fellow creative can be awkward, especially when you're outsourcing something near and dear to you. That's why I'm pulling back the curtain. Here are five things they might not feel comfortable telling you... 

 5. DECIDE IF YOU WANT MY INPUT


You will always have final say, but do you want to know when I think something will hurt your marketability? What if I have an alternate vision of your concept? Letting me know how much leash I have to work with helps me better serve you.

4. KNOW YOUR USAGE


It's understandable that you're not sure on the size yet, but I do need to know what you plan on using the design for. Graphics aren't one size fits all. A logo made for the signature on your blog will pixelate when stretched for print on a t-shirt. 

If you want to do both, just give me a heads-up. Let me worry about when we need 300 dpi CMYK v. 72 ppi RGB. ;)

3. UNDERSTAND & RESPECT SCHEDULES


Designers are often juggling dozens of projects for their clients. As soon as you have enough details to start a project, it's a good idea to get something in the books. Give the artist enough time to let a concept marinate. You'll get better results (and avoid rush/PITA fees).

2. DON'T CONSULT EVERYONE


It doesn't matter if you're representing a large group (like an organization chapter) or yourself (where you seek approval from your street team, family, FB fans, etc.). When you put a design out there for feedback, you're going to end up more confused than when you started. Seriously. You can have your designer create alternatives to appease a vocal few, but you will never reach a perfect consensus.

Remember: Just like writing, the visual arts are subjective. You will not please everyone. 

If you're not comfortable making the decision by yourself, why not create a small focus group? Try bringing in a dedicated reader of the genre, an industry professional with a good eye, and a trusted friend who knows what you like.


1. USE YOUR WORDS


You'd think this would go without saying, but a surprising number of writers can't describe their vision for a project. (Side note: It's totally okay if you don't have one—that's what consults are for!) For those of you who struggle, it may help to take notes whenever something strikes you while you're writing, i.e. colors you associate with the overall story, images you've come across with similar vibes, details about the front character, etc. It'll save us time and  you money, if we don't have to do trial-and-error.


Question of the Week:
Any tips for dealing with fellow creatives in a business capacity?

30 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yes, know that everyone has an opinion! That's in line with letting other offer their thoughts on a design, which will indeed be all over the map. But it's also understand that when working with other creative people (in anything) that everyone brings something new and fresh to the table.

Donna K. Weaver said...

PITA fees. That just makes me laugh. I love having input from my cover designer. I'm totally not good at this kind of thing. That's why i hire it out.

Carrie-Anne said...

I've gone the old-fashioned route of hand-created artwork (as opposed to digital images) for book covers. Whether hand-drawn or from a camera, though, I'd be furious if a cover designer ignored my dealbreakers and used one of the 4-5 cover trends I'm so sick of seeing, like a headless bare chest, the almost-kiss, a girl in a big pouty dress, or a crotch shot.

SA Larsenッ said...

Letting a concept marinate is key, at least for me as a designer. There are so many tangibles that have feeling and emotion attached to them. It must be unique, accurate to theme, and give a sense of the author/story. (JMHO) ;)

Melissa said...

I'm glad you posted this. These tips will help a lot of clients (and keep a lot of graphic designers from committing harakiri or snatching themselves bald. LOL)

Natalie Aguirre said...

This is all such great advice. And it's so true that you can't please everyone. Your idea to have a core focus group sounds like a great way to get some feedback without becoming overwhelmed.

Loni Townsend said...

I love analyzing opinions. Maybe I'm weird, but I get a certain excitement when going through feedback to see who resonates best with what content.

cleemckenzie said...

Man, do I hear that "Don't consult everyone." I'm on a board as publicity chair, and when I took it over the old chair did consult everyone. Result: publicity looked like a well-cooked hash. I'm not as popular as she was, but people like the publicity now.

Mark Noce said...

Great points! Respect and communication in any combined creative endeavor are key. It's also pretty useful in life in general:)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

All excellent tips. I learned the, don't consult everybody idea too late. Gave myself a lot of head aches that could have been avoided. I've found we have a vision in our heads and getting everyone else's vision is just frustrating.

Crystal Collier said...

It really all does come down to communication. I think I've learned that more clearly through working with my graphic designer than anything. He's fabulous, but we stumbled on my last book cover. He had so many wonderful ideas, but when it came right down to it, the core of the project needed a different direction. We got there, it just took some very clear and decisive communication.

Catherine Stine said...

All great pieces of advice. The trick for me is really speaking up and giving as much info from the beginning as I can so that the designer can understand what it is I want. And then, if I need to have him/her tweak something I need to keep it respectful and appreciate how much time and creativity it takes to design, while clearly and succinctly describing the tweak I need.

Mason T. Matchak said...

I don't have to deal with any of this yet, but I'll be coming back to reread this when I do. ^_^ I know what I'd like my (eventual) books' covers to look like, so this will come in handy. Thanks!

jamieayres.com said...

#3 is sooo important!!!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wonderful pieces of advice, especially letting the artist know how much room they have to move and communicating as much as possible. I know I'm terrible at the latter, so I try to give a certain amount of the former.

Carrie Butler said...

Yes! Since writing can be such a solitary activity, it's hard for us to collaborate on projects so near and dear to our hearts.

Carrie Butler said...

The sad thing is tons of designers have them.

The sadder thing is... there's a reason. LOL

Carrie Butler said...

Very cool! Oh, I'm sure they wouldn't go a completely opposite direction without your consent. Time and reputation are too precious to us all. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Yes! Sounds like we work the same way. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Or their clients! LOL Kidding, kidding...

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Natalie! :)

Carrie Butler said...

I love analyzing opinions when they don't directly affect my work. Haha :)

Carrie Butler said...

Whew! Doing the best thing doesn't always make us popular. I'm glad you're sticking to your guns. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Mark! Well said. :D

Carrie Butler said...

Frustrating, indeed! I think it's one of those lessons you have to learn the hard way to understand.

Thanks, Elizabeth! :)

Carrie Butler said...

I've been in that situation before. You can have a thousand great concepts, but sometimes they just don't line up with the project... and that's okay! The experience helps us both as we move forward. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Catherine!

Ah, yes. Speaking up at the beginning is so essential. Those clients are my favorites. <3

Carrie Butler said...

Fantastic! Knowing what you want is half the battle. :D

Carrie Butler said...

Amen to that!

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Tyrean. I think everyone has to find their own balance in these areas. You're ahead of the game! :D