How to Find the Right Graphic Designer


A colleague of mine is having a difficult time, finding the right graphic designer for a project.

The problem isn’t one of availability, skill or talent. There’s plenty of that out there.

If anything there’s an over saturation of skill and talent. In 2018 the number of graphic design businesses globally, increased by 1.6% to 400,555 businesses (this figure does not include freelancers).

The problem is risk mitigation.

Creatives think prospective clients are looking for fantastic, jaw-dropping work. But in reality what they want is to reduce risk.

For buying design is a risky process. All a client has to go on is a portfolio (which isn’t always a reliable indicator of the creative’s capabilities), and what the designer tells them.

Not all creatives are entirely transparent regarding their portfolio, and their specific role in the work they show.

The designer wants the job, so of course they try to say and show all the right things to land the gig. But the client doesn’t really know what they’re in for, until they start working together.

This is something I’ve also experienced first-hand. Where I’ve hired designers for a projects, only to discover they can’t use Photoshop. Or they don’t understand layouts. Or they can’t do print artwork.

This all amounts to tremendous risk.

So if a prospective designer can demonstrate a solid body of work, client testimonials and referrals, chances are they can deliver as promised.

And in this way, the associated risk is mitigated.

What the client considers the ‘right’ graphic designer in this case, is the person who’s already doing the exact thing the client needs.

The real problem is when that thing is fairly niche, this isn’t always an easy search. If it’s a really niche requirement, it’s a veritable needle in a haystack.

Lots of creatives have SEO optimised sites, but even then they may be way down the Google search listings.

So does one better go about finding the right graphic designer? Here’s a few tips.

  1. Write a good brief. This is the cornerstone of any creative project, and fundamental in finding the right talent.
  2. Don’t rely on Google searches alone. Utilise portfolio platforms like Behance and Dribble, where you can see thumbnails of work instead of just page listings.
  3. Search by skill, not end result. Chances of finding someone who only does logos for swimwear brands are pretty slim. But searching for a branding designer first, will at least allow you to check out what industries they cover.
  4. Once you’ve found a good prospect, closely examine the portfolio. Make sure you understand what they’re specific role or contribution was to each project on their site.
  5. If you decide to go forward with a designer, make sure both parties set clear project terms from the outset.

Overall, creative partnerships are much like relationships, where anything worth having involves both risk and trust.

But fortune favours the brave, and wonderful things can happen as a result.

– Greg Bunbury



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