Getting the most out of a Graphic Designer

Marlena Clark - Getting the most out of your Graphic Designer

What would it take for you to feel proud of your brand?

I want you to be excited when you hand someone your brochure or product. Helping companies look their best and visually communicating to their target audience is my passion. But whether you work with me or another designer, here are 6 tips to help you get the most out of working with a Graphic Designer.

1. Share Your Production Budget
Your production budget (paper or materials, printing, die cutting, etc.) will give your designer important guidelines to work with so design time is used on the right ideas. For example, screen printing metallic inks on your wine bottle may exceed your price point for a small run. Then again, your designer may know a vendor with excellent pricing, and now you can get the look you were hoping for.

2. Organize Your Content
Have content ready in one place. Give them one clean document. Designers know there will be some changes, it’s the nature of our business, but excessive revisions can result in a lot of extra time and a costly change order. Don’t tell your designer “take this paragraph from here, and that sentence from there, but change all of the tense from first person to third, and that the intro isn’t ready yet.” The more organized and complete your content, the quicker for your designer to utilize it and send you the new design. This also makes for fewer revisions.

3. Discuss Your Design Budget Together
When your designer knows the design budget for your project, they can offer you solutions and ideas that meet your needs, while giving you the most bang for your buck. Even better, know your design budget for the year. Talk with your graphic designer about ways to maximize the use of your budget. Don’t be afraid they’ll take it all – if they are fair, all they care about is doing the best job within your budget. Be sure to ask your designer if they offer multiple items at a package cost. This can save you time and money.

4. Ask for Help Writing
Designers are very resourceful and want your brand to look and read its best. If you are creating a brochure, writing the content may not be so easy once you sit down to do it. It’s ok to ask for help. You might have other things you’d rather give your time to anyway. Designers work with writers and editors, and know people who can help with this. Some designers are also skilled at writing, but don’t assume that is included in design costs. Writing, editing and designing are all different things.

5. Stick to the Timeline
Quality designers have multiple clients and multiple projects just as you do in your business. We can be booked out for several weeks or months, so it’s important to establish a timeline and stick to it. If you need to send high resolution photos to your designer by Tuesday and you don’t send them until Friday, the timeline of the project will change. If you foresee a delay during the project, communicate with your designer.

6. If You Hate Red
If you hate red because of a traumatic childhood experience, tell your designer you hate red and you don’t want it in your logo. Tell them up front before design starts. Without this bit of information you will be disappointed to see red logos and your designer just spent valuable time in a direction you didn’t want to go. Knowing this information upfront will speed up the process and colors will be more to your liking.

Friday Awards

Friday Awards-smileSometimes by the end of the week I wonder What happened to my work week? What did I do all week? – I was so busy… I answered lots of emails, I took in plenty of new projects, I made a ton of content revisions, I prepared artwork for the printer. So, where is all this designing that designers do?

Sometime days designing just isn’t there enough, and I don’t get to be in my zone. I need a reminder about something I’m happy about from the week and a little pat on the back. I also need to design something if only real quick. For a little fun and a brief moment of design time, I created Friday Awards. Pick the topic, do a quick design, print on stickers, share awards to celebrate. Sometimes they are for me, often they are for someone I know.

Go ahead, you can try some of mine! Here’s a sheet to play with.

Friday Awards

Vacation Installation

Vacation Installation

I love to travel! I also love to encourage others to travel! There’s adventure, explorations, interesting foods, different luxuries or the lack there of – depending where you go. It opens your mind and heart to worlds we don’t know. Mostly, I find it interesting to observe the lives of other people and see what they see in their everyday life that is beautiful and different from mine.

I get a sense of fulfillment and peace taking photos when I travel, and I want to take that home; to remember, to share with others, to dream about and feel again until the next adventure. Perhaps the view is nature, patterns, rituals, people in motion, or colors. But what if those photos stay in a dusty scrap book on the shelf, or on my hard drive for a boring slideshow no one else wants to sit through.

I find I re-live my adventure the longest and evoke the most curiosity of friends when I have a Vacation Installation. I select only my favorite photos from hundreds I’ve shot and a few small special items for textures to feel, smell, or hear. I find it interesting which areas draw more attention from friends, and what detail I might notice several weeks later that never caught me eye before. Again, I’m observing and pondering. Ask me a question about the trip and you’ll see me light up with passion as if I was there experiencing it once more. If you haven’t been there, I’ll encourage you to go.

What was your last adventure? When is your next one? Where will you place your Vacation Installation?



Polar IMG_1516

Each tiny life was plucked out of the box one by one and eaten alive. There was one corpse left by the time we got there. I’m embarrassed to admit the three of them never even made it home. We had names picked out. We showed them off to anyone who asked, “What’s in the box?” as we stopped through rolling hills of olive farms and wineries. It was our fault. We left them all alone.

The long pronged collar and you tube videos were sure to be the answer. We happily brought home four more baby chicks. They were kept in a small cage in my office. Again each chick was given a name, this time with the consultation of two sweet nieces. We held each chick a few times a day to encourage friendly hens. Polar repeatedly banged her head into my office door trying to get in. Puddles of drool pooled in the hallway between sessions of compulsive whining and barking. We’d take her out for extra walks and when we needed a brake from her obsessiveness, we’d stick her out in the car until we gained peace of mind. No training methods worked. We tried all the tricks. This was not my dog. Polar was possessed.

The baby chicks grew into adolescence and were moved to their coop outside. They had a ground box to snuggle in and a heat lamp for cool nights. The first weekend we were away, we came home to find 3 dead chickens dragged into our house. The fourth one was completely eaten.

Polar, my sweet, overly-friendly, super-cuddly, momma’s girl of a dog – kills chickens. Yes, this is the same dog that smiles and prances as she walks.

There was one last thing we could try if we wanted to keep chickens– a tip from some farmers. But really? Really? All this trouble just to have fresh eggs someday. Yes, we did it. The words came out of my mouth.

Tie the dead chickens 
around her neck.

There was no eye contact from me. No talking to her. No walks. No dog cookies. No love. Food and water was all she got. I felt so horrible. What was I doing to my poor dog that I love so much? The barking lasted one day, the whimpers a second. Then, complete silence. I would tip toe out there to check on her several times a day. Polar spent a week in the chicken coop. My love, my happy dog, who is accustomed to sleeping on a down comforter, spent seven days and nights out there – her heart and my heart breaking each day.

My woeful samoyed exited the coop once the dead chicken necklace fell to the ground just a string. The chicken odor took several baths to get rid of and well over a hundred ticks were removed. Polar’s spirit picked up quickly as she reunited with her favorite luxuries and toys. There was no interest in the coop, nor that corner of our small backyard.

We cautiously brought home 5 more baby chicks. We increased the number with hopes of survivors and named them based on themes of immortality, sacrifice, and food: Morla the Ancient One, Icarus, Medusa, Lemon Meringue Pie, and the smallest one, Toast.

About five months later, Toast left our backyard in a cardboard box. We knew Toast would be in a better place… a farm in Santa Margarita, with eleven hens. Our little Toast, was a Mr. Toast.

It took twelve chickens, but one morning, we got our first egg.