Your goal is to find just the right graphic design studio, so here's a plan. Do a search for graphic design studios, and even localizing it for your area, there will the tons of responses. And, in today's internet world, it's not necessary for the firm to the local. That only broadens the scope of what's available to you and increases the difficulty of making a decision.
So, how do you choose? Look first at what you need and it will be much easier.
Being clear about what you want and need, and able to clearly communicate that, will make it much easier to see which of the graphic design studios is a fit. Are you looking to focus your marketing efforts on print or the web. Do you already have a logo or do you need one? What about CD or DVD production? Make a clear list of what you want.
Who are your customers? Perspective graphic design studios will need to know all about your target audience, so be ready to answer the "who", "what", "where", "why", and "how" questions about them. Define your potential and current clients in terms of their demographics such as age range, income range, ethnicity, lifestyle, professional focus (if applicable), education, home ownership, and mobility.
What are the reasons they buy your product or services. What pains or problems do they experience and what solutions does your product or service offer? What are the inherent benefits to the customer of buying your product or service?
How does your target audience use your product or service? What were your past marketing efforts? Why did your past marketing efforts work, and why not? If you don't know, that's okay. Bring along your past marketing materials and ask your candidates what they think. This is another way to assess whether or not you want to work with a particular studio.
Knowing your product or service, your market and what it is you want is just half the equation. The other half is what you are looking for. Here are some simple questions. You can rank the candidates on each of these on a 1 to 5 scale where 1 is "not at all" and 5 is "Yes, absolutely".
Do they have access to all the services I need? You might want to make a list of the services and then rate the graphic design studio on each one.
Does the style of their work meet my taste criteria?
Do they have experience with my product or service?
Do I think I'll enjoy working with them? (This may not seem as important until you're in the middle of a project. Then it will be crucial.)
Will they give me references?
Are the references happy with the work they received?
Okay, now you are armed and ready to choose from among the bounty of graphic design studios. Remember the ones that come up first in your search know how to optimize their web sites and if you are working on a web site, this may be important to you.
The actual terminology surrounding graphic designers has come into being in the twentieth century. However, there are many events that led up to graphic design that could be considered a part of the history of graphic design itself.
Graphic design has its roots in the same rich cultural history of all art. Art has been a part of cultures since before the written word. The history of graphic design stems from these ancient beginnings. The history of graphic design is, in a sense, the history of art and its applications and methods, as well as a history of graphic design reproduction techniques and technology.
Like all recreational and applied arts, graphic design got its real beginning with the invention of the printing press. Previously in the history of graphic design, art and other creative works had to be hand copied. The ability to print copies of art and other creative works was a huge step toward the graphic design that exists today.
Another large step in graphic design history was the development of photography, and later film making. These important steps at the end of the nineteenth century were the stepping stones to creating the graphic designs that we have today. This era also marks the beginning of the separation of creative art, or art for entertainment, from applied art, or art that was used for a purpose such as conveying a message, advertising, and other graphic design purposes.
The next largest step in graphic design history was the development of the computer, and more significantly, the technological wave that led to a personal computer in every home as we have today. Graphic design would not be as popular, nor would it be as effective, creative, and reproducible without the invention of computers. Therefore, the history of graphic design is closely tied with the history of computers, computer software, computer imaging software, computer scanners, computer printers, and digital photography. The internet and graphic design software are perhaps the most important of these technological advances that are a large role in the history of graphic design. Without all of these important technological advances, graphic design would not be what it is today.
There are many other important landmarks in graphic design history. In 1919 the first union of art and industry was put into place. In 1929 commercial artists, advertising designers, and illustrators became common place. In 1970 mega computers allowed for more advances in graphic design with companies like IBM. The development of the micro processor, allowing for personal office and home computers, came in 1980 and was marketed with Apple computers in 1984. Finally, the now common place technology of internet access in 1993 tops off the graphic design history that has lead to the graphic design industry we know and recognize today.
To learn more about the history of graphic design, you can search the internet or your local library. Many colleges and universities offer arts classes and history of graphic design courses. Community education programs also often offer summer classes or work shops on topics of interest such as the history of graphic design.
Long gone are the days when a graphic designer's tools were pen, pencil, brush, exacto knife and illustration board. Today's designer relies almost exclusively on graphic design software which is both expensive and constantly changing. At some point or other, the designer has to decide to upgrade his or her present software or change to another brand. And, then the designer must learn all the new functions of this version of software. If the program interface changes then the learning curve for the design professional can be very steep and costly. On top of that, there's different graphic design software for desktop publishing, web design, illustration, and photography.
For much of the last decade, the desktop publishing arena was ruled by Quark Express. (Before that Adobe's PageMaker had been King of the Mountain.) Over the past few years, Adobe has been making a serious bid to regain its preeminence in desktop publishing with In Design. If Adobe squashes Quark it will pretty much have a monopoly in graphic design software, having already swallowed up Macromedia and much of its other competition.
At the end of 2005, Adobe concluded its acquisition of Macromedia which made it the owner of Dreamweaver - usually acclaimed as one of the best (and sometimes the most difficult to use) web design software available. Dreamweaver has few challengers in the arena of professional web design. Microsoft's Front Page still provides services for non-professionals and some professionals who are old-time PC users. Mostly though, Adobe, with the acquisition of Dreamweaver, has attained a semi-monopoly here as well.
In graphic design software for photography there's only one acknowledged leader - Adobe Photoshop. While other programs exist for the casual user, for the professional photographer Photoshop is the digital darkroom. Other companies exist by producing "plug-in's for Photoshop, until Adobe buys them.
What about graphic design software for illustration? Again, Adobe is the leader. With Adobe Illustrator used and recognized by the most professionals it usually wins hands down against the competition. And, it's not always which program is the easiest to use or has the most functions. It is which one is the most compatible in the most places. Corel Draw, Canadian illustration competitor to Illustrator is acknowledged by many to be easier and have more functions - but the files are hard to use anywhere but with Corel. So that limits across program functionality and thus its popularity.
One of the reasons InDesign is gaining so much ground is the ease of use with all of the other graphic design software programs in the Adobe family. You can move between them quickly and smoothly. Adobe now packages them as its Creative Suite and so it becomes one-stop shopping.
But, what will happen if Adobe becomes King of the Mountain? Without challengers, will it maintain the same quality and drive for excellence? And what will happen to the price? Will it even out or just continue upward. If you're the only ballpark, you can charge whatever rent you want?
Whether you're a web developer, a graphic designer, or an artist, you've undoubtedly counted on Adobe software to help you get the job done. Now, the design world is buzzing about Adobe Creative Suite 3, a collection of computer graphic design tools that are fully integrated to allow you to work in almost any medium.
Adobe offers six different editions of CS3, designed to fit the needs of a variety of professionals. The six editions are:
Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium - Developed for the designer who works in mobile, Web, and print publishing, CS3 Design Premium includes the professional or extended versions of InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, and Acrobat.
Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Standard - Perfect for the professional who works primarily in print, CS3 Design Premium includes InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat Professional.
Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium - Adobe takes web design software to a whole new level by allowing integration across virtually all Adobe products, including Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Contribute Cue, Bridge, and Device Central.
Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Standard - Perfect for website design, this graphics software integrates Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Fireworks, and Contribute.
Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Platinum - Adobe solves the challenges of video post production by combining a wide variety of products, including Bridge, Dynamic Link, Device Central, Acrobat Connect, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop Extended, Flash Professional, Illustrator, Soundbooth, and Encore. For professionals working in a Windows environment, it also includes OnLocation and Ultra.
Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection - The CS3 Master Collection is a computer graphics dream come true, with virtually every Adobe product integrated so that you can create in almost any medium, including film, print, mobile, Web, and interactive. The Master Collection includes InDesign, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Acrobat Professional, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Contribute, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Soundbooth, and Encore. Web applications include Bridge, Cue, Device Central, Stock Photos, Acrobat Connect, Dynamic Link, OnLocation, and Ultra.
Essentially, CS3 provides professionals with product configurations that will enable them to seamlessly accomplish their goals. For example, designers can do web page design, user interface design, game development, e-learning, animation, and mobile development. Those who work with video can do editing and production, multimedia, audio editing and production, and visual effects. And, of course, professionals can edit and fuse images, as well as design for print.
Professionals also appreciate Adobe graphic design website software because it works on a variety of platforms, including Windows Vista and both Tiger and Leopard on Macs. And, for those who already own Adobe products, it's easy to upgrade to CS3 - even from standalone graphics software programs. Finally, those who purchase one CS3 edition and then decide that they would like an enhanced version (moving from, for example, CS3 Design Standard to Design Premium) can easily make the switch.
There's no question that the creativity of designers has spurred Adobe to step up and develop a toolkit that enables professionals to reach new heights.