How to pick the best Graphic Designer

1. You need to like their work

This may seem obvious but it happens. A client picks a designer based on a referral but doesn't take the time to look at that designers work. Every designer has a style and it's important that the client and the designers style is a match. If you love the designers work, you'll most likely be thrilled with the work they do for you.

2. They need to be organized and prompt

Designers and creatives have a reputation for being a little flakey. So when you're in initial talks with a designer make sure they are on time for meetings, that they don't reschedule and that they show up prepared. Things like communicating with the client, meeting deadlines and informing the client when and if things are going off track will make or break a project. Making sure your designer is organized and prompt is key.

3. They need to be excited about the project

New projects are exciting! If your designer doesn't seem thrilled with the thought of new work, maybe it's not a great fit.

4. They should possess a sense of urgency

If the client hasn't responded to edits or initial drafts and this is going to effect the deadline, the designer should be on it, 'Just wanted to follow up', 'I wanted to make sure you received the revised', etc. The designer needs to be actively working towards meeting your deadline even if you're the one holding up the process.

5. They need to 'get' you

Some people just 'get' you, if a designer seems confused about what you do or isn't quite understanding they might not be the best fit. Someone who's a good fit will ask great informed questions, they will have worked within your industry or learned enough about it to be clear.

6. They need to be experienced and confident

You can tell by a designers portfolio if they're experienced with projects similar to yours, you can also tell by asking questions. An experienced designer will be able to talk through ideas, design and production with ease, they'll be able to confidently make recommendations in a way that makes you feel comfortable and feel like you're in capable hands.

7. They need to have relationships with vendors

Having great relationships with vendors is a must, there are all different types of vendors with different specialties and knowing who to partner up with to produce the best possible product at the best possible price is an advantage that experienced designers have.

8. They need to be able to problem-solve

There are many problems that arise in projects: design problems, client problem, vendor problem,  production/quality problems or logistical problems. Being able to confidently handle them, come up with creative solutions and communicate to all parties involved in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable is an important skill to have.

9. They should be clear communicators

Clear communication is so important, as a client if you feel confused about what is happening and when it's happening you're going to lose confidence. Designers should be clearly communicating what is happening, when it's happening and what the next step is.

10. Both the client and the designer should be comfortable with each other

If you feel intimidated by your designer or your designer is feeling intimidated by you, either party might not be communicating everything that needs to be communicated. If that's the case, it's not the best relationship. It's not a guarantee that you won't have great results but it could lead to that. There needs to be open lines of communication on both sides, if the client hates the work, they need to say it, if the designer is confused by some feedback, they need to feel confident enough to let the client know so they can get clear. 

Inspiration | Orla Kiely

Orla Kiely is a London-based textile designer who creates simple, bold, and graphic patterns. She built a global empire by pairing simple modern shapes with midcentury-inspired color palettes. Her work is an amazing example of consistent and immediately recognizable branding.

Orla's most popular design, the stem pattern, can be found on everything from bedding, bags, and rugs to wallpaper, shirts, and even casserole dishes. She sells higher-end items online and in her New York and London shops. She also sells items at a lower price point through her exclusive Target line.

I love the way Orla's overall brand works together. If you isolate the shapes themselves, they don't have a lot in common and are not very remarkable, but the manner in which she repeats them is interesting and consistent. This gives everything a great unexpected cohesiveness that is able to evolve but still feel very much part of the collection.


Orla's patterns are a really great example of taking something very simple and giving it a unique personality that translates into a strong, upbeat, and recognizable brand.

Customizing Print Jobs with Variable Data

In the last post we talked about offset vs. digital printing and I mentioned that with offset printing there wasn't a way to customize individual pieces without added costs. Variable data is a technique that utilizes the strengths of both processes to produce customized or personalized print materials in a cost effective way. Using this technique, the 'shell' of the piece is produced offset and then information flows in from a provided database or excel document to customize each piece. Producing things this way takes advantage of digital capabilities and avoids the need to set up each individual file. Variable data in it's simplest form is addressing envelopes or self-mailers (as seen below) in it's more complicated form it can be swapping in specific language, information, graphics or maps that are unique and designated for that particular recipient. This process is predominately used in mass mailings but can be utilized for other items that require individual set up, for example, company business cards, numbering event tickets, labeling credentials, etc. 

The below 'shell' was produced offset. Here it is before variable data was applied.

The same piece addressed using variable data.

Understanding how variable data works and it's capabilities can be incredibly useful when you're dealing with files that require customization. It's a helpful tool and a great time-saver.