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DesignGuy 4th May 2010 08:24 AM

Questions To Ask Your Graphic Designer
As a graphic designer who works with small businesses on a daily basis I often find myself answering a lot of interesting (and valid) questions. Consumers are cautious about working with people over the internet and rightly so ... this is still relatively a new thing for many people. Here are some key questions that you can ask your graphic designer to ensure that they are a legit business and so you don't get any surprises at the end.

1) How many revisions do I get to my work?

The reason: Some designers have very small initial project fees and high hourly rates. Jimmy could offer $99 brochures and $60 an hour thereafter. If Jimmy only allows for 1 revision before he charges you hourly you could end up paying a lot of money. Make sure you're clear on how many revisions you get and always try to nail down a FLAT RATE for your project.

Bottom Line: Always look for a designer that charges a flat rate for print advertising pieces.

2) Do you have professional references?

The reason: Trust is important. You want to ensure that your designer has worked with small business owners before and double-check the references. Anyone can throw a testimonial up on a web site. It's your responsibility to check out your designer before hiring them.

Bottom Line: Choose a designer that can provide dozens of professional references including established chambers of commerce to confirm it's trustworthiness.

3) Can you provide a print-ready file for the printer?

The reason: With the availability of software on the internet everyone claims they're a seasoned graphic artist simply because they have the tools available - it doesn't mean that they understand the business of print design.

Your files have to arrive at the printer in a certain format. You need to understand trapping, bleed, cut lines, fold lines, CMYK vs RGB color, vector images vs. raster images, etc. If your designer doesn't understand what it takes for your printer to actually get the job done it could cost you more money and time to have the project fixed correctly.

Bottom Line: Try to find a designer who has experience working in a pre-press setting and can guarantee that your job goes to the press correctly the first time.

4) Will I own the rights to my project once I pay for it?

The reason: Unless otherwise specified in a contract, the graphic designer retains the right to his or her creations. Copyright laws protect against additional use without proper compensation or agreement. As the consumer, you want to ensure that you have complete use of all of the materials provided to you. If it's a logo design - make sure you have it in writing that you own your logo and can use it for the branding, advertising and marketing of your company.

Sources: "The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. Eleventh Edition. Graphic Artists Guild, Inc. 2003.

My personal belief is -- once the client has purchased the project - it's theirs to use. We have been paid for our work and you now own the files that we used to create your project.

Bottom Line: Know & Trust your designer so that you get exactly what you're paying for. A trustworthy professional is worth their weight in gold and as a small business owner you should not settle for anything less.

Eagle 17th May 2010 06:14 PM

Get referrals from trusted associates. :)

mattcarpet 25th May 2010 09:11 PM


jetfuelcreative 30th May 2010 11:58 PM

DesignGuy is 110% correct in his points.

There are many out there who claim to be experienced designers.

But don't settle for poor-quality work, especially because of price... it will hurt a lot more in the long run.

Your brand is a valuable asset and you should treat it as such.

I've had experience with a lot of clients over the years who end up spending a lot more time and effort redoing their branding (logo/graphic/web design) because they didn't go about it the right way in the first place.

This is truly one of those situations where not doing things correctly in the beginning can really hurt you in the long run... either through time, money, or the worst of all... damaging your business' reputation due to poor design.

naturalbeauty 1st June 2010 01:05 AM

There are only 3 things that you need to ask:
1. sample
2. client references
3. price

then decide..

mattcarpet 1st June 2010 02:01 AM

That's a nice short list, but the more questions you ask the more your potential designer will have to talk, which is an easy way to get a feel for the person you're about to trust with your money. Not a truly reliable method of course, some people just lie really well, but you might just catch a few unreliable ones with an overload of questions. Also something to think about, the more you ask upfront the more you have in writing assuming you email back and forth rather than talk face to face, i.e. if they suddenly change what they agreed on you have proof. Not going to help much against those people out to scam innocent small businesses, but enough to ensure you get what you want from the honest ones...

The short list is probably enough, but i do believe in ironing out details upfront.

tradeshowdesign 14th July 2010 04:18 PM

Portfolio & Pricing
Asking lots of questions is great and can only help, however, the most important thing is what can the graphic designer do? You will see that in their portfolio.

Next is can you afford them, and that comes down to how much they charge and how quickly they work.

Everything else is good to know, but not nearly as important.

jng 23rd July 2012 01:41 AM

Another thing to be aware of are graphic designers that drop a lot of names (eg, mention big brand names they worked for) but in reality worked in a bigger team where most of the creative decisions were made by more senior members.

Also pay attention to the style of their samples. At the end of the day, even if they have worked for many big brands, if their style doesn't match your vision, you're better off looking elsewhere.

ExecutiveJ 27th July 2012 06:12 PM

These are all great questions and you can tell a lot about the person based on the quality of answers they give. Just be careful as many people display others' work and hide that fact.

Price isn't really an issue as much, but be sure that you are willing to pay for quality work. As a designer I know that many people aren't willing to.

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