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Are you a design whore?

And if not, why not?

As we all know there are dozens of aspects to modern graphic design, ranging from solid text page layout to complex vector illustration, with side excursions along the way into logo development, CSS coding and prepress for offset print.

Are you a design whore ?

The fact is that nobody – with a capital Nob – knows it all.

So it stands to reason that there are specialists in every aspect of design; photographic enhancers, CSS designers, large poster designers, print advertising gurus etc. If you go into any large agency, it will have specialist illustrators on staff, and mere ‘designers’ won’t ever be tasked with creating complex illustrations. They will also have a Photoshop compositor or two who can put the head of an eagle seamlessly onto the body of a supermodel. And there’ll be a whole battalion of experts in typography, page layout, copywriting and other areas, every one keen to do their best for the company. (What they most likely will not have is a prepress expert, but then problems with prepress will be sorted at the specialist prepress house, and the extra cost will be swallowed by the huge budget.)

But as clients economize by taking their design work away from the large, inner-city agencies to seek out smaller (less expensive) alternatives in the suburbs ( yay!) their expectations won’t have changed. Which means they’ll be looking for specialists in each of the dark arts of design –without actually knowing it. To them a designer is a designer. All they really want is the same service and the same results they’ve enjoyed in the past, but for less cost.

So they come to you, bringing with them the brief for a political campaign; several different types of campaign brochure, with support posters and numbered tickets to events, a temporary website, and a range of advertisements for newspapers and magazines. Oh, and a billboard. All in all it’s a great job, worth many $$$.

Except that, although the brochures are no problem, you’ve never made numbered tickets before, and your website ability is still in ‘development’. You think the posters will be no problem, and the billboard… well, it can’t be that difficult, right?

This is where it gets tricky. The truth is that a freelance designer cannot survive on a specialty niche, unless they’ve been at it for decades and are drawing enough work for that niche to keep them going. The last thing the fictional client above wants to hear is “I can do your print stuff, but the web is beyond me. Oh yeah, and the tickets might be a problem.”

The chances are that this freelance designer will lose ALL the work. And only because they haven’t spread their expertise wide enough. If you want to cover all bases, spend all your spare time filling in the gaps in your knowledge. A designer’s training doesn’t stop at graduation, and telling a client that you slept through the brand development classes is no excuse.

If you do come across something you’ve never faced before – such as when a client once sprung International Standards Barcodes on me – so long as it’s not too specialist a topic, endeavour to find out about it. In the case of the barcodes above, I was honest with my client and said I had no experience, but promised to find out. She gave me the 60 page manual she’s received from the barcode police and said ‘good luck’. The result is that, not only do I have a happy ongoing client, I now know all about fitting barcodes to tiny cosmetics labels!

Any work, no matter how small?

Here’s another scenario; a client approaches a freelance designer and asks if he can do a small job for him. The job is making a single minor change to an established website. It’s only ten minutes’ work and hardly worth charging for.
The designer feels it’s not worth the effort and turns the job down.

The frustrated client then approaches a second freelance designer and this one takes him up on it. Not only that, he says it’s hardly worth invoicing, so calls it a freebie. It turns out that the client is responsible for several million dollars worth of annual marketing budget, and as a result the second designer picks up a wealth of additional work.

Sound a little far-fetched? Well it’s a true story and it happened to me. The moral of it all is that turning work down, no matter how trivial or off-track it might be, can lead to missed opportunities.

So back to the first question; Are you a design whore? If you’re not, and you pick and choose your work and clients, you could be missing out on a wealth of work. I’m a whore and I’m proud of it. If a client ultimately turns out to be a tyre-kicker, I can always sack him later. But in the meantime, if he or she has the money, I’ll roll over any day.

About the author

Author : Gary Crilley
Website : http://www.theelectricartist.com/
Description : The Electric Artist site is the number one source of high quality video tutorials, Photoshop tips and sources for further training, aimed at graphic and web designers, illustrators and computer graphic artists of all kinds.

Written by CrazyLeaf Editorial

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