How to talk to a graphic designer

How to talk to a designer


If you are beginning a business, or want to “spruce up” the one you already have, chances are you will end up using a graphic designer. What do we designers do? In a nutshell,  we make things look pretty!

Be it a logo, a brochure, a website, etc… we designers make things look clean, orderly and all around pretty for our clients. Those of you who have dealt with designers before, you are familiar with some of the lingo we designers use in order to talk to you about a certain project. If you are contemplating hiring one of us to help your business succeed, then this guide will be a good stepping stone.

Ready? here we go…

Initial meeting: When you meet with your designer either in person, on line or though a phone call. I always find it best, if meeting in person, to meet at a neutral location such as a Starbucks or local cafe.

High Res images: An image, or picture, used for your brochure or any printed material. This is always the best option.

A high res image can be either purchased or taken by a good digital camera. Images from a phone do not work. Images downloaded from the web, without permission from the owner of such image, does not work. Images that are 2″x 2″ ( inches or centimeters) and are high res, do not work. Here is the reason why: Digital images, or scanned to become digital, work in pixels. Pixels are tiny little squares that make up an image in the digital world. The more squares (or resolution. ex: 300 dpi) the better the image. Images used on the web are at their lowest resolution (72 dpi) possible, making them look VERY fuzzy when printed. They are also VERY small physically speaking. Phone images are the same way. Downloads from the web without permission are a total no-no. You would be placing yourself under legal harm’s way for using an image that doesn’t belong to you. Also, Images can not be pulled out of thin air. Meaning, if you have a photo of the “top” of an apple, the designer can not “turn the apple” to show the “side” of it on your project.  You would need a new picture.

Copy: This is the “TEXT” need from you, the client.

Unless the designer will be writing everything for you, a very unlikely scenario, you need to write all the information needed yourself. This includes addresses, emails, phone numbers, etc… Please spellcheck your work. Designers should not be accountable for your spelling mistakes. When drafts are given to you, check and double check everything written on your project.

Drafts: Ideas and layouts given to you before the final material. Drafts are usually emailed to you.

Logo Design: A logo is probably THE most important piece to your business branding. It is important, for your success, to be recognize among the plethora of businesses just like yours. A logo will give you that recognition.

How much should you pay for a logo? well, that will depend on your designer. Just so you know, the “Graphic Artists Guild” suggests that a logo should be between $50,000 and $2,000 dollars. This all depends in the size of your business. If you are just starting and are working from your garage, chances are that the designer will give you a good price.

Live Area: This is the area you can physically SEE on a print.

When images are printed, they get to be printed on really large sheets of paper and then trimmed, or cut, to the final size of your piece. It is very important what part of an image you see on your product.

Printing Process: How your project will be printed. 4 color, UV, 1 Pantone color, foils, emboss, deboss, etc… all done by a printing house, or vendor.

Small quantities can be printed digitally. Large quantities should be printed on an offset printer. ONLY offset printers can accommodate 1 color Pantone, foils, funky inks, etc… Also, be very aware that the color on your screen might not be the colors on the final print. This is because all computer monitors and phone screens are not created equal. You can either cross your fingers that things will look great when printed from a file onscreen or get a “paper proof” of your project. Now a days, you’d do well practicing your faith that all will turn out alright!

Common Misconceptions: Things that designers can do only in the client’s imagination.

Designers Are Not/Do Not/should Not:

Make things bigger by the push of a button, take calls in the middle on the night, read the client’s mind, robots, add to the “image” of something you made without the original files, participate on the client’s desperation and/or emergencies, make up a new day in the calendar, work as fast as superman, be in two places at once.

Designers DO however listen, work hard, show patience, guide, are professionals and need to get paid in a reasonable time.

I hope all these lingo from designers make a bit more sense to you now. There are plenty of other things to consider when hiring a designer to make a business shine and look pretty. It all depend on the communication you and them have. Mutual respect is the key.

Do you have any other questions about designer’s lingo? What has your experience been so far?

Have a creative day,

Belle signature ok


Christmas Tree Decorating

En Español

Decorating Christmas trees can be a bit daunting. There are a few steps that can be followed in order to succeed at it. Here are some ideas I got from Better Homes and Gardens

  1. Hang Christmas tree lights. The first step in decorating a Christmas tree is adding the lights. Tree lights typically come on green or white wire strands; choose the strand that matches your tree so the wire will be hidden. Illuminating your Christmas tree from the inside out will give it the most dynamic look. Start at the base of the trunk and work your way up, wrapping lights around every major branch, moving from the trunk to the tip and back.
  2. Add Garlands. There are no firm rules when draping garlands on a tree. To avoid the “sausage effect” (branches bulging between tightly cinched garlands), start at the top of the tree and slowly increase the amount of garland between each wave as you work your way down the branches. Plan to use about two strands of garland for every vertical foot of tree. To avoid a busy look on your tree, use a variety of garlands from plain to fancy. Thin, beaded garlands look best hung from branch to branch; thicker paper, ribbon or foil garlands look best wrapped loosely around the entire tree.
  3. Hang Ornaments. To showcase your favorite ornaments, place them in prime positions on the tree first. Next, hang your larger ornaments, spacing them evenly around the tree. Fill in around those ornaments with medium- and small-size ornaments. Be sure to hang some ornaments closer to the trunk to create depth and interest. Finish dressing the tree by adding specialty items, such as clip-on ornaments or icicles.

Like any decoration, a theme and a color palette is essential. I find myself making the same tree every year, but according to these examples, done by Martha Stewart, there is a better way.

Here are some more from Country Living

christmas tree decorated in pink and gold in front of a banister lined with stockings

close up of pink christmas stocking with paper clock facechristmas tree star with clock faceschristmas tree

Enchanted Party: Flag Banners

En Español

I made flag banners as one of the decorations for the Enchanted Birthday Party I’m making for may daughter’s fifth birthday. I researched a bit and came up with an easy way to create them. You can make the banenrs out of fabric or paper. I personally prefer paper because it retains the shape better when hung, and also, you can choose colors from literally hundreds of beautiful scrapbook papers. It is cheaper too. I got a block of scrapbook paper, 180 sheets, for $10 at my local craft store. Some people like to glue the flags and then sew them together but I found that to be an overkill.

What you’ll need:

Scrapbook paper
Flag template (mine was 5.5 x 8.5)
X-acto Knife
Double bias Tape
Sewing machine

How to make them

Make a line at 8.5″ (or however long your flags are) on the back of a scrapbook sheet of paper and cut with X-acto knife.

Turn your paper horizontally and place your flag template on it. mark its position down with a pencil three times. Cut on lines with X-acto knife and ruler.

After you cut all the flags you need, both in quantity and color, you will need to use bias tape in order to make the banner. I guess you can also use normal ribbon of about .5″ in thickness, but I have never tried it that way. Bias tape is sold, most commonly, in 3 and 4 yards at your local fabric store.

Double bias tape has the wonderful convenience of being a cotton ribbon which has been folded in half, making it easier to insert either paper or fabric in between.

Sew your flags between the folded bias tape. I used a zig-zag stitch because I figured it would be firmer than a straight single stitch. Besides, if a kid pulls on a flag it will not reap. Well… I guess it depends on how tenacious the kid is, lol.

Et Voila!! You have a flag banner. I made sure to leave a good measure of bias tape on both ends of the banner. This way it will be easier to tie and it will have a nice little tail of tape.