I am lucky to be married to an outstanding graphic designer. When I needed a logo, I got one. Not just any run-of-the-mill logo, but one that captured my personality and the reason for needing the logo. You see, I’m a crafty introvert. I guess knowing your client really well would help with designing, but the thing is, he creates this kind of stuff for lots of people. He doesn’t know any of them as well as he knows me, but he knows what questions to ask, and the path to take to creating the perfect art for each client. He’s one of those people who just gets it. He understands that there is a problem to be solved, and helps the client figure out what that problem is. He draws out information that the client doesn’t even realize is pertinent to the project. He is a problem solver. He brings order to chaos.

Here is the most important thing you can do when working with a designer: let him do his job. My designer has won many awards over the years and the thing that stands out the most to me is that the projects he donates are more likely award winners than the ones he does for paying clients. On the surface it seems strange that the gratis work would garner more kudos than the paid work. But do you know what the difference is? With donated projects, the designer has complete control. He has free reign to do whatever he wants to do. There is a committee of one deciding what looks best. The recipient can take it or leave it. Usually they take it. And win awards.

Paying clients are more likely to show the comps to several people, get several opinions, and then ask the designer to incorporate all the ideas into one hodgepodge piece of art. Clients who do this are only getting partial value from their designer; they get the benefit of mad production skills, but they don’t take advantage of the creative skills. These people are designers because they are creative, and they understand the logic behind why some elements work and some don’t. It’s my opinion that the best designers are also great production artists, not because they like production, but because no one else could execute their ideas, leaving them no choice but to become experts at production, too. So, yes, they are quite capable of taking a mixed basket of ideas and coming up with a presentable solution. But if you want the absolute best quality work…

Tell your designer what you are looking for. Show examples of things you like and things you don’t like. Share as much information as you can about your project so your designer can wrap his mind around what would work best. Then get out of the way. Let him work. And get your money’s worth.

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