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.
Any serious graphic design student or graphic designer should subscribe to at least one graphic design industry magazine. Graphic design magazines give graphic designers and graphic design students the ability to keep up with current graphic design trends, learn about new or coming graphic design technology, and discover new graphic design opportunities. Graphic design magazines can also give graphic design students information about graphic design scholarships and graphic design compeitions.
One of the best graphic design magazines is HOW Magazine. This graphic design magazine allows graphic designers to find information about graphic design technology, freelancing as a graphic designer, and graphic design career opportunities. Students of graphic design will find this graphic design magazine helpful in its showcases of graphic design career opportunities, graphic design schools, and graphic design events. Of interest for all graphic designers and graphic design students is the stress that this magazine puts on not just the how, but the why and the creativity of graphic design.
Graphic Design USA is another fabulous graphic design magazine. This graphic design magazine has technology information for serious graphic designers to keep up with industry news. Graphic Design USA magazine also has resources for students of graphic design, as well as contests and scholarship programs. The online version of Graphic Design USA magazine also has opportunities for free graphic design stuff, and a graphic design online newsletter that can be emailed to your inbox weekly.
Print Magazine is yet another great graphic design magazine. This graphic design magazine seems to tend more toward the creativity side of graphic design. With regional and nationwide graphic design contests, student graphic design contests, and other graphic design competitions, this graphic design magazine is a must for students of graphic design or those just starting a career in graphic design. The online version of Print Magazine offers graphic design forums, a free graphic design newsletter, and other free graphic design stuff.
DT&G, (Design, Type, and Graphics) Magazine is an online only publication for graphic designers. This graphic design online magazine offers the option to read on the web site, or on a text only email edition that is sent out around the first of every month to subscribers. Not only does this online graphic design magazine offer industry news, graphic design technology information, and other graphic design features, but it also offers reviews of graphic design software, graphic design books, and other graphic design resources. Anything graphic design related, big or small, might be included in this online graphic design magazine.
There are many other graphic design resources and graphic design magazines that can be found both on and off of the internet. Serious graphic designers and graphic design students should subscribe to at least one graphic design industry publication in order to keep up with the latest graphic design industry news. If you would like to find more graphic design magazines and resources, do an internet search for graphic design magazine and be amazed at the wealth of graphic design information available to you in this type of graphic design forum.
A graphic design portfolio is the best way to display and showcase your past projects, creativity, and talent. A graphic design portfolio is vital when trying to pursue opportunities as a graphic designer within a company or as a freelance graphic designer pursuing clients. The graphic design portfolio can contain any number of items, in several different formats.
The first important step in developing a graphic design portfolio is deciding what work to include. You should only include your highest quality work in your graphic design portfolio. If you include mediocre work in your graphic design portfolio simply because you are concerned about not having enough pieces in your graphic design portfolio, you will lose important job offers and clients. It is better to have a few pieces in your graphic design portfolio that really showcase your talent and creativity than have many pieces that do not help you build a solid reputation as a graphic designer.
The next step in developing a graphic design portfolio is deciding what type of graphic design portfolio you want to create. There are four main types of graphic design portfolios: printed pages in a binder, an online graphic design portfolio, images placed on a graphic design portfolio CD, or a slideshow of images placed on a graphic design portfolio DVD. Really, it is best to create one of each type of graphic design portfolio so that you are fully prepared to offer whatever your prospective employer or client is prepared to look at to judge your talent and creativity as a graphic designer.
To create a graphic design portfolio of printed pages, you should choose only your best work, and only the best quality printed copies. If you are unsure of the quality of your home printer, put the images on a disk and have them printed for you at a print shop. The best quality and most creative pieces can look mediocre if not printed with high quality printing. You should then present the pieces in a professional manner. The best color for a graphic design printed portfolio is black, and the most professional style is leather. This should be something that is spiral bound, a book, or a case so that you can add or remove pieces from your graphic design portfolio easily as you progress in your graphic design career.
To create a graphic design portfolio online, you will first need web space. Website hosting and domain registration has become very cost effective. Most websites also give you free website building tools so that you don't have to know HTML. However, make sure that you sign up for website hosting with enough bandwidth to handle all of the images and potential traffic. Once you have your website set up, you'll want to choose your pieces carefully. Display them as thumbnails on one page, with each full scale piece appearing on another page when the thumbnail is clicked. This will give people with slower internet access easier access to your online graphic design portfolio.
To create a graphic design portfolio on DVD or CD, you must have a computer with a DVD or CD burner. To make really professional DVD or CD graphic design portfolios, you will want to get a CD or DVD burning kit that allows you to burn images onto the top of the CD or DVD and create labels for jewel cases. You can either save individual pieces on the CD or DVD, or you can simply save a copy of your website on the disc.
"I need a professional graphic design firm to do my logos, stationery, web design and brochures. I've met several graphic designers at networking groups. I've looked at a ton of web sites. How can I be sure I'm hiring a professional graphic design firm that can meet all of my needs?"
A professional graphic designer will have a full range of services available to meet your needs. These include print and web design, Flash and video work, photography and illustration, resources for quality and affordable printing, and other marketing services. The professional graphic design firm also uses professional tools, like Adobe In Design or Quark, Photoshop, Dreamweaver or Cold Fusion to just name a few.
Look at the firm's clientele. What size firms are they servicing? What services are they providing for those companies? Do the services they provide cover a full spectrum of graphic and marketing services? Professional graphic design firms will have access to and be using a wide variety of resources. You can ask for the full list of their services if they aren't already included in their on-line web sites.
Once you've narrowed your list down to two or three firms, ask for references and call each one of them personally. Getting your business off on the right foot is at stake here. Take the time to really understand what their clients think of them. Here are a few questions you might ask. This is not an exhaustive list, so before you start calling add any additional questions you can think of to it.
Did the services they provide include the following: logos, stationery, business cards, marketing post cards, advertising concepts and print advertising, brochures, newsletters, press releases, marketing CD's or DVD's, web design, web optimization and market research.
For each of the services that were provided ask how happy the client was with the end product. Was it delivered on time and within budget? Did it produce the desired results? What were the downsides of working with the firm from this client's point of view? What were the upsides? All in all, how happy were they with the products produced? Would they call this firm a professional graphic design firm? Why or Why not?
Once you've made the reference calls, take the time to look at the results of each interview. If you rate each of your potential firms on a 1 to 5 scale on the above elements, you'll find on that a leader begins to emerge.
Then ask yourself some additional questions as well. Which of the professional graphic design firms you are considering has experience in your field? Which one does work that you like and feel is effective? It's time for your personal taste to be brought into the decision making considerations. On a more personal front, which of the people do you think you'll like working with more?
Once you've considered all of these factors, a clear decision should emerge. If it doesn't, take the top two and - flip a coin because you've done all the relevant homework.
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.
Sparkle! Shine! Be noticed! Attract customers! That's what you want for your product or service. But how do you attain that?
Great graphic design is the key! Graphic design that creates sparkle and pizzaz and magnetizes your target clients to you is what you are looking for. When you begin to look for the right graphic designer, it can seem that there are way too many to choose from. Most will have a graphic design portfolio on line. This is the place to start.
What is it that sets one apart from another? How do you judge graphic design for yourself? It's not an easy task, because it also involves personal taste, but here are some basic design elements that will help as you look at their portfolios.
Emotional Response. Take the time to look at their work and see how it affects you. Do you like it? Does it make you want to know more, buy more? Do you respond in some way? It is usually an effective emotional response that make us want to act or buy. In the graphic design you are reviewing you want to assess the degree to which the pieces initiate an emotional response.
Use of White Space. Probably the first and foremost consideration is the use of white space in the graphic design. Is the message presented simply with lots of surrounding space, or is the space cluttered and you don't know where to look next. Examine a number of the graphic design pieces in the designer's portfolio. Knowing how and when to use white space is a talent and an art. Does this designer have it?
Simple Easy to Understand Message. Just like white space, the message should be simple and easy to understand. Competing messages don't make for sparkle and notice in graphic design.
Meaningful Unique Bold Graphics. Our brains process visually, so the visual message is very important, often more important than the words. How clear and bold are the graphics in the work of the design you are considering. Do you get the message immediately? Are the visuals different and unique or do you have the feeling that you've seen them before. Is the designer using the same "stock" images as everybody else or do they find new and unique ways to present their message.
Effective use of Type or Fonts. Does the type style match the emotional feel of the piece? Does is help the message to stand out. Is it readable?
Benefits. While benefits are a selling point and not really a part of the design itself, they are a very important part of what makes a piece sizzle and sparke, because it's the benefits that magnetize clients to you. So be sure your designer has included benefits in their design pieces.
Drama. Does their graphic design work have drama? Drama engages the reader, involves the reader, keeps them looking and then remembering long after they've seen the piece. This is another part of what creates magnetism.
Spend some time with each online portfolio. Talk to the graphic designer. As for references and then, talk to their clients to get a feel for how well their work has produced results. How happy were they with the graphic design services they received. Would they use the designer again?
With all this information, finding the right graphic design firm to create sparkle, sizzle and magnetism for your product or service should be a cinch.
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?
There are many reasons to do pro bono work as a graphic website designer. First, beginning graphic website designers or graphic website design students can get valuable experience from doing pro bono graphic website design work for non profit organizations and low budget organizations such as Boy Scout troops, Cub Scout packs, and Churches.
Another reason to do pro bono work as a graphic website designer is tax breaks. The hours you spend working on graphic website design for free can be deducted from your taxes at the end of the year as a charitable donation. Check with your accountant or tax preparer to determine the most reasonable rate, but highest rate, that you can get away with charging per hour for your tax deductible hours so that you can claim them as a charitable donation.
The other reason to do pro bono work as a graphic website designer is experience and to build your portfolio. If you are a graphic website design student or you are just starting your graphic website design career, this can be a fantastic opportunity. Build your graphic website design resume with work that shows not only your talent but your big heart and community spirit. Build your graphic website design portfolio to increase career opportunities. And build experience and education with on the job training and experience in graphic website design.
With the internet growing daily by leaps and bounds, it is no wonder that everyone wants a professional graphic website designer on their side to create an awesome website with even greater graphic design so that they can compete with larger organizations. With all of the churches, cub scout packs, boy scout troops, school activities, day cares, home businesses, small businesses, and children's organizations out there today, the average graphic website designer should have no problem finding pro bono graphic website design work.
Once you have found pro bono graphic website design work, you need to treat it just as you would any other freelance graphic website design assignment or project. That means you have to find out what the client wants in their graphic design website. Create a creative brief so that you and the client are on the same page with where you are going with their graphic website design project. You also need to set up a work schedule and time line for the client so that an expected completion date can be given to the client for completion of the graphic design website.
Once the pro bono graphic website design project is completed, follow up with the organization to make sure that they are happy with their graphic design website. Then, keep in touch with the organization in the future. This will open up networking possibilities for graphic website design freelance projects in the future with paying clients. It will also open up possibilities for more pro bono graphic website design freelance projects for that and other charitable organizations.
Overall, doing pro bono graphic website design work is a great, fulfilling, rewarding way to gain additional experience, graphic website design samples for the beginning graphic artists portfolio, and tax breaks for the freelancing graphic website designer.