Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to Choose a Graphic Designer for a Book

I may be a Graphic Designer but I'm not advertising my services today. Personally, I'm not a big fan of freelancing because of all the complicated contracts and unsteady work flow. However, if you are a writer in need of a freelance Designer, you've got your work cut out for you. Design can be confusing and messy if you are not a designer so here's a few tips on what to look for.

• You get what you pay for:
This actually works both ways. There are the Designers that are very cheap that create cheap looking work and then there are the very overpriced designers that are not worth the dough either. So you could get ripped off mediocre design or just cheap crap. The middle price ranges are the best because the designers are not making enough to stop trying to impress and are making just enough to actually put a decent amount of time and thought into it. 

• Look at the portfolio, more than the resume:
Graphic design may be one of the few professions where a masters degree is useless. There are people just graduating that have more skills than people with a masters and 10 years in the business. Why? Because it's an ever changing field. Every few years, what a designer knows becomes dated or a new technology comes out or more skills are required, etc. I'm not saying that people who have never had a job before are more knowledgeable than Senior Designers but if they haven't kept up their skills they may be. So more weight should be given to the portfolio than the experience. 

• Beware of fancy language:
Does his/her website say things like "enhances brand equity with innovative solutions"? This roughly translates to "helping people recognize your stuff by making it look interesting." If you want a Power Point presentation that sells you with corporate buzz words, hire them. If you want to get to the point and skip the B.S., you might look further. Some designers use this corporate lingo to make themselves sound more expensive and justify their price point. Remember, it's the end design and how it helps sell your product, that matters. No one is going to be in the book store standing by your book to give the marketing spiel. The visual has to do that job in a few seconds and if you don't get it, the customer won't get it.

• Get a recommendation:
The person may have a great resume, portfolio and seem to have the whole package. However, they may also be an unreliable flake that doesn't return phone calls, talks badly about clients and keeps changing the price. Recommendations from friends or just calling his/her old clients will help you to know if there are any personality issues.

This is just a few tips that could expand to be a book long but who has time to read all that.

Mary Lee

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