How to Choose a Graphic Designer

September 14, 2012

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When choosing a Graphic Designer it’s not just about how good they are, it’s very much about how well the two of you ‘fit’.

Listening – it goes both ways

You need to choose someone who listens to your ideas and who understands you and your business. When you’re talking, are they listening?  Do they get it?  The last thing you need is a designer who ignores you and only puts forward their ideas… you’ll end up being forced into a design that they’ve convinced you looks good, but if it doesn’t sit right with you, you’re never going to love your logo or brand. So make sure you choose someone who can take your ideas and turn them into a reality.

But hang on a minute, what about the flip side?  When they’re talking, are you listening?  There’s a reason you do what you do, and they do what they do.  When entering into a ‘relationship’ with a graphic designer, be prepared to be open to ideas that might challenge your own, after all – this is what they do for a living.


It may seem like a simple idea, but make sure you do a wide range of research – due diligence!  There are so many different styles and levels of talent and experience out there. Choose someone that is reliable as well as talented. Just like ninetyblack!  We are a design studio with a team behind everything that we do, so service and reliability go hand in hand with great design. That doesn’t mean we are anti-freelancers, but if you do opt for a freelancer, there are some things you have to be aware of. If they go on holiday or are sick, you have to wait, so keep in mind the possibility that things could take a little longer, enforce deadlines where possible. Also remember, they’re only one person so can only do so much, they will only have so many ideas – one brain isn’t better than 2 or 3 or 4, so does your project require a ‘team’ behind it or does that one-on-one suit you more?

Here’s a few other considerations to contemplate before diving in.

  • Do they get it?
  • Are you both on the same page?
  • Did you get a second opinion/quote so that you have something to compare to?

Check out their work

While you are looking over a designers portfolio think about what you like and whether they are a good fit. How diverse is their portfolio? Do you even know what you like? Think of keywords; bright & bold, understated, modern, retro… what is your style and what is going to work for the project?  If you’re unsure how to communicate what you like, tell them what you hate – that gives just as good a direction. You know that saying, size doesn’t matter?  It’s true!  Well… in this case it is. Their portfolio size does not always matter, it comes down to the quality of what they can offer. Quality and accessibility.

Do you know what you need?

Do you have a brief?  A vague idea of what you want? Or are you going in with a blank canvas in the hopes that your designer has all the answers?  Every client is different, some know exactly what they want, others don’t have a clue. A great designer can handle both situations – but if you hand over a blank canvas just remember one thing, total creative license will get any designer’s heart racing, it can also sometimes take a little more time. The difference between good design and great design often comes down to development. The more development you can put into a design, the better it gets. So remember, development equals time, time equals money.

Time = Money

If anything is going to sour a great design relationship it’s going to be money (closely followed by creative differences, perceived value for money, and let’s not forget bad coffee).  If you are discussing development ideas, “I want to see this”, “oh, and can I see this?”… this is going to take more time, and of course your designer will oblige! Just don’t get a fright at the end when you get the bill.  If you’re budget conscious and/or your designer isn’t giving you progress ‘pitstops’, ask for them. Like cheese, good things take time – they don’t have to cost an absolute fortune, but they can take time. Invest in your project and invest in your designer and the result will be as tasty as a port cheddar. OK, enough with the cheese analogies…

If you keep these few things in mind when choosing your designer you will hopefully ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.  Be prepared, like a Girl Guide or a Scout, and fingers crossed this will be a match made in heaven!  If things do turn to custard and you need salvation… call ninetyblack.