Business owners in the market for a graphic design professional face a crowded field. Many claim to be experts, but finding a designer who truly knows the craft is not always easy. Thoroughly vetting candidates regarding their past work, affiliations, and range of skills can mean the difference between attracting customers and turning them away.
When it comes to graphic design, first impressions count. If your marketing materials fail to draw in visitors, you may never have a second chance to earn their business. This includes everything from a business card to a website, brochures to stationery. At the same time, there are so many graphic designers out there that many business owners don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing a qualified professional.
The following tips will help you sift through candidates and choose a graphic design professional who meets the needs of your business:
First, unless you are willing to give someone the opportunity to learn on the job, look for someone who has versatile experience in the areas you require. These days this should include web, print, and, to a greater or lesser degree, video. Does your potential designer know how to create pages that maintain a consistent look and feel across platforms? What does he or she do in order to stay current with changing technology? Do not hesitate to take the time necessary to interview a number of candidates.
Second, get a feel for the graphic designer’s overall approach by reviewing a number of samples. While many professionals can adapt to fit the tastes of different customers, it is just as common to see a certain style reveal itself in the professional’s overall portfolio. Make sure to review the samples a few times, as you may notice different things with each successive viewing. For example, do the photographs or other artistic elements appear tasteful or jarring? Does the graphic artist put in too many bells and whistles that interfere with the core message?
Third, don’t let your own prejudices get in the way of a bold choice. Of course a design plan has to represent your company in accordance with the mindset of your target market. However, don’t let yourself get caught in old ways of doing things out of fear of venturing into something new. Graphic design professionals are often ahead of the curve when it comes to visual expression. If you trust the artist’s overall work, don’t be afraid to give him leeway to create something truly impressive. Creative people enjoy challenges and may surprise you if given the chance to prove themselves in new ways.
Fourth, ask to see credentials, affiliations and references. Many people call themselves graphic design professionals. However, there is often a vast difference between someone who picked up the skill along the way and someone who maintains a commitment to professional development. In addition, if a candidate is a member of a professional organization, you may have recourse should something go wrong. It also means that the candidate intends to play by the rules.