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Step 1: First you will need to find an image and make it the right size. If you don't have access to Photoshop, you can use an online image editor such as http://pixlr.com. The resolution for your header image should be no more than 72 pixels-per-inch. It should be 760 pixels wide (if it's wider, Blogger will resize it). It should be no more than 200 pixels high.
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Helping other professionals understand the value of graphic design
Helping other professionals understand the value of graphic design
I am seeking examples of project briefs to help in-house designers establish value for their work. As we know, most design requires a great amount of thoughtful planning. Suggestions? Thank you.
10 days ago
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Debra Lindland, Julie Robinson and 2 others like this
23 comments • Jump to most recent comments
Edwin LeNoir • Possibly I'm not fully interpreting the dilemma, but are the designers feeling under appreciated or do they feeling as if their creativity is being utilized to it's potential?
10 days ago• Like
Nancy Krause • Hi Edwin,
The other folks in the organization do not understand the amount of time that is required for planning and executing designs. They often think ideas can be born quickly; when actually it is a process. We don't use project briefs here. That's why I thought breaking down the steps necessary for new designs in a way that non-designers can understand would be helpful. I was looking for a simple way to communicate this to others in the company.
10 days ago• Like4
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Kurt Griffith • As a self-employed freelancer, I face this all the time. There seems to be a mythology that with the remarkable power of our digital tools, there is a magic "Create" button in some Adobe tool that builds finished Print pieces, ads, edits copy, retouches and composites photos, does prepress, and builds web sites and runs an email campaign... INSTANTLY. I've honestly been given a pile of cocktail napkin notes at 4:30 on a Friday and been asked, "can we go on press with this by end of biz?"
"Um... oh HELL no."
I get into some of the issues on my blog a bit...
"When Do You Need a Graphics Pro?"
9 days ago• Like5
Edwin LeNoir • I believe I understand now. It's the non designers that's undervaluing what you and the other designers have to do to produce your work. That's a bit of a pickle. I'm sure many of them have made comments like they can do the same thing in less time. Its difficult to justify one's skill to another if from inception that skill isn't valued to begin with. Hmmm let me swirl it around the old noddle a bit more.
9 days ago• Like
Alan Brown • Nancy,
As someone who works on the print or output end of the business but also has a design background, I feel you are on to something..
Do you have any ideas yet how to best present this?
9 days ago• Like
Laura Kalina • I like where you are going with this in terms of presenting a visual or written "process" of what we do so others can get a better understanding. I think we all have run into this problem from time to time and it can be stressful. I've been with my company for six years and some of my fellow employees have only recently begun to comprehend that good design takes time.
I try to be very proactive when I hear about an upcoming project. I am the one who goes to them first rather than waiting on them for information. I tell them to give me the first details on the project so I can start creating the most time consuming components, such as illustrations, then layout, etc. Sometimes, when it's possible, we just have to be the ones to take control and make them understand that, hey, these things take time so if you want the project done within the expected time frame then this is how we need to work together. I've also discussed with my team, an idea about creating a project management form with the listed components to the project. It would be made viewable to everyone on the team. Each person has an assigned task (each with a due date), and the team members must check off their task as it's completed.
9 days ago• Like1
Nancy Krause • Thank you everyone for your comments and ideas. What I've started building on paper is a skeleton diagram time line. As we all know, it starts with an idea, (or several), is brainstormed, (if only by designer), and refined.
What I also think will be valuable is an "elevator speach" about what design involves (without the rant of being unappreciated). In essence, a refined statement that is powerful enough to show knowledge and leadership design. What I want to avoid at all costs is the "place your order, copy center" mentality. This cheapens what designers do, and are capable of achieving. I value everyone's input on this. It could become a designer's elevator speech.
Laura, I especially like the idea of being proactive. The elevator speech would be a great fit for this.
I look forward to more input and ideas as we formulate an approach. Thank you everyone!
8 days ago• Like2
Kaley Henning • I'm a young designer and this is something that I've come across quite a few times in my career already, and even though I understand that it is not a quick process and should be valued, I have no idea how to present this situation to others that need help understanding. I'm looking forward to seeing this thread grow and reading this "elevator speech" about the situation.
7 days ago• Like
Timothy Miller • I love when a non designer tells you how long this process should take. *punch the clock. Now be brilliant!
6 days ago• Like2
Brian Rothschild • Here is a simple lesson in creating value.
You just met me and I hand you a stack of money equaling $10,000.00. And I tell you, " you can simply walk away and the cash is yours, no strings attached.....
At the same time I hand you a business card that states I'm a Mercedes Benz dealer and I tell you I have 5 SL 550's with a retail value of $70,000.00 each, which you could sell tommorow, and will gladly trade you any one of them for that 10 grand you are holding.
How many will keep the money and how many would take the keys and title to the car?
If you took the money you are closed minded and short sided and probably someone that simply can't see the value, or has been burned so many times that they have determined that creativity is common sense, either way I'm probably wasting time but I always give it the ol collage try. But, If I suspect that you even considered taking the car, I'm going to apply every tactic in my arsenal to attract your business from simple kindness and humility to "referal discounts" and I can think of many more but that's a real easy way to describe how to create value.
Feel free to apply it any way you can in any situation. I've actually explained it word for word to a client so I physically created the value. Thankfully it's not always that hard.
6 days ago• Like1
Julie Gogola DeCook • This is a great question! Recently I described that being a graphic designer is like being a translator of sorts. We take the language of our client/boss/project manager and turn it into something the rest of the world can understand. A lot of times, I am give a pile of random, messy crap that us unclear. My role is toturn it into something that makes sense to the audience. As a designer, we have to see through the lines and simplify all the information to get the message across.
A designer working with a number of different departments is a key asset. The designer is given all the pieces of the puzzle - often different puzzles. The graphic designer is the person who makes all the pieces fit together.
That ability to make connections and organize information is pertinent to the success of the entire organization. That person helps the entire company communicate better and get their messages across. It is more than just a beautiful thing!
6 days ago• Like
Julie Gogola DeCook • Regarding timing - You could have a classification system that lists different kinds of projects. Show the steps of the design process that cannot be skipped - brainstorming, prototype, revise...prototype...revise...final (maybe)... and say how long each step generally should take. Small projects get a certain amount of time, larger projects get more time. Also include a list of ROADBLOCKS (how often do we hurry up and WAIT for pertinent bits of information?!!) Maybe have your designers present their process to the company, so people understand how they work - and why time is needed. Give the team a moment to shine!
6 days ago• Like
Ian Henderson • This is a really good question. In running my business for the last 4 years, I have learned the power of analogies. In this case one could use the analogy of building a house. One could entrust the project to an uncle or nephew who is not qualified for the job, but promises a great looking house. You dump a load of lumber off at the sight and hope for the best. What kind of result can one expect from this?
Or one could hire a qualified architect who's past work you like. Will he build you a house overnight, will he skip all the planning and organizing stages? Highly unlikely. You will probably give him the proper time and money to do the job right.
The same goes for graphic design. Adobe CS and other software are only the tools of the trade. Just because your nephew has a table saw does not make him a qualified carpenter. Same with graphic design. Before you touch the tools you need the vision, talent, planning, and time to actually create a piece that communicates clearly and effectively to the target audience.
6 days ago• Like4
Brian Fortney • "Just because you can drive a Car doesn't mean you can drive Nascar."
In response to Ian here I've used analogies many times to describe to amatuers/clients which could be the same thing concerning how many people think because they have Photoshop they believe they can design. Attempting to explaining a grid and how to use it would be beyond most people.
5 days ago• Like
Ian Henderson • Brian, yes indeed! Never mind good composition, leading the eye, balance, contrast, typography, etc.
5 days ago• Like
Kurt Griffith • All of this is true. I particularly like the analogies, like the Architect and the Race Car Driver. - Thank you Ian and Brian.
One of my favorite is explaining print versus on-screen, where CMYK is "ink on paper" and RGB is "like television - light beamed at your face." GOOD LUCK with "additive" versus "Subtractive" or "radiant source" versus "reflective surfaces."
What I do have a hard time figuring out, is why Graphic Design in particular has been de-valued so much more compared to other skilled professions, despite 30+ years in the profession. But since this thread launched, I read a very telling article on the subject.
Rick Schober - Why We Suck at Design
Raised MY eyebrow, it did.
As a veteran of the Design Wars, and “excused” from corporate servitude in 2001 post 9/11 to make my way as a freelancer, I have seen up close and personal the exact trends and phenomenon that he mentions in his post and we've touched on here. Since I have had to fold in Web Design into my practice, as I’d starve to death as a pure Print Designer, I find myself valued as much as a *technician* as an artist, if not more. I cringe whenever I am introduced professionally as a “computer whizz” rather than as a Designer.
I do have to accept that our profession now requires us to be extremely capable technologists, just to be competent. I am well aware that our market does not even START till a client or company wants to look better than what they can shove out of MS Word or PPT, online at Vistaprint, or over the counter at Kinkos, Office Depot or Staples.
And yes, I do miss the days when we Art Directors were freakin' JEDI KNIGHTS of the drafting table.
5 days ago• Like1
Montse Perez • Hi Nancy, This article landed in my inbox yesterdat and although it does not give you the clear formula you are after, it describes in a very concise way clients' misperceptions when commissioning graphic designers.
I believe it would help you draft your process and anticipate the concerns/behaviours/reactions of clients - always a positive thing. Here is the article:
5 days ago• Like1
Nick Casbar • Ian hits it on the head, good analogy.
While I think every job out there has a level of expertise and skill that is not completely understood by those who aren't in that position, I feel like graphic design may be one of the most misunderstood, especially the emotional aspect.
Good design does not only apply laws and principles but is an extension of one's soul artistically. Even a simple headline using the right font and negative space could be seen as a masterpiece in the world of design, but looked at as nothing special by the layman.
Sure, there's research time and button pushing that are tangible, measurable tasks - but it's difficult to convey to others how much soul goes into producing the work. That's something the layman will have a hard time quantifying and attaching value to, and maybe that's something the designer shouldn't expect to receive unfortunately.
5 days ago• Like1
TARA BERRY • Seasoned in the field I come across this all the time. Since I tend to be an overachiever and problem solver I work hard sometimes all night to make things executable by a short deadline. I believe this is the exact reason our time is undervalued and what it takes for a quality project. I have found from working off of other designers files that rush jobs have grown. We tend to make our clients happy by killing ourselves thus creating a cycle of no return. A clear process may help but creating a project time frame like most of our printers we work with do. If the project information is not received by at least two weeks prior to print date then the project will not be on time. Yes I know we have made it happen in the past, but in order to guarantee quality we need two weeks production time. Wouldn't that be nice!
4 days ago• Like
Brian Fortney • Tara that is an issue I hadn't thought of I suppose the professionals need to understand that Design isn't a 9-5 job I've had months where everyday I've worked 11 hours at minimum and I don't believe anyone other then a Designer would understand that. This doesn't clock out if you don't express an idea or grind through a slump as soon as possible you either forget or get buried.
4 days ago• Like1
Julie Gogola DeCook • It is easy to lose your soul after a while, if you are not in a design thinking company. In-house designers ARE misunderstood by their co-workers. Accounting has no clue why your job exists - and that hurts. Sales thinks you should be at their beckon call and each individual thinks that their stuff is most important - and that's exhausting. People dump stuff on your desk constantly to "beautify" so they can look good (the designer's contribution is not acknowledged in the end). While everyone is begging for the brochures and posters and web pages that they needed yesterday - and you feel bad.
I think that Nancy is a doing something really great for her team. And I hope she shares the project with us. Putting the designer's process into terms that other people can understand is a good thing. People don't get that designers think about every detail of the page, all the way down to the way each word falls on the page. They don't know WHY the designer's stuff looks so much better - they call it magic. So give them something that shows that it ISN"T magic - tell them about your process. They will be FASCINATED! Show them your pride, knowledge, skill, elbow grease...and love for what you do.
4 days ago• Like2
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Kurt Griffith • One of the things that IS difficult, that we have little control over seems to be the amount of time we're given to work on a project. While the Printer's timelines are pretty consistent, i.e. makeready and spitting in on paper, it's about the same in most cases whether it's some tripe from MS Word, or a complex brochure. So many clients and employers seem to think the Designers work is similarly quantifiable, regardless of complexity.
What I have discovered is that often even when an appropriate time is given for a project, much of it will be chewed away at the front end with enedless focus meetings and iterations of roughs, and begging for final content... leaving virtually no time for finish prep final and prepress (or CODING), usually jammed into a short shift between sign-off and a press or launch deadline.
4 days ago• Like2
Nancy Krause • Hi Everyone,
It's clear I have hit a nerve. From all the response, we as designers are taken for granted on a regular basis. As Brian and Ian have pointed out, it's about creating value. With their comments in mind, I have personalized my pitch to the non-designers that I work with currently. By that I mean, we as designers must understand the occupational reference point of those we work with. Currently I am working with engineers. These folks are brilliant.
But what prompted this whole discussion was the comment by a senior engineer, who is lead on a 150-175 page proposal. He wanted professional design work based upon this report. He asked me "would this take me 2 days, maybe 3?"
It was at this second I knew that, although brilliant, he and his team had no idea what designers actually do.
I decided to answer based upon engineering terms. I asked how long the team had been working on this proposal, and the answer was "months." Based upon that, when asked how long it would take me to put together a proposal book for them, I said, "Rome wasn't engineered in a day." It' will take at least 3 weeks, perhaps more.
In exasperation, I also said, "This is not McDonald's". (probably not the best approach, but honest)
Kurt, your post from Rick Schober really took a stab at my heart as a designer. Much of what Rick says is true. Although I wasn't involved with design until 2002, gone are the glory days of "Mad Men" stars.
If some of you didn't catch it, here is his link:
One other thing, I believe we must insist on removing the phrase: "In a fast paced environment" from job descriptions and any and all conversations and interviews. WE MUST VALUE OURSELVES FIRST. Now, when I see that in a job description, I do not read any further. This tells me that the only value I would have to them is based upon production, not design or value, according to the service or product.
Fast is not part of the equation, or shouldn't be. The thought process still takes time to mature an idea. People often think because we use computers, the process is instantaneous. This is the beginning of trouble. To that I will answer, we all use computers, and it hastens portions of the process, but not the entire process. Thought time, concept development time, idea refinement, sketching, and more idea refining will always be a precious commodity; one that cannot be hasten by computers.
BTW, we must also let others know that designers not only need to know how to design, but, we must be design software gurus, and able to trouble shoot in any creative software program.
Thank you everyone for your input.