Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. Currently my most common jobs are working with start-up companies in creating their branding/marketing. We start with logo designs and work our way to stationery, advertising, websites and whatever else the client needs. I've been incredibly busy with website design and brochure design as of late. While most of my work is in the web field, I still have a fondness for print design and love working in that medium whenever possible.
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Do your research. It's easy to find the cheapest most accessible designer out there, but to find a quality designer that is reasonable will save you time, headache and money in the long run. Be sure that the designer you choose can stay within budget, and meet your design needs.
It's also always a good idea to be sure that your chosen provider has a network of other designers, programmers, or skilled professionals that they can turn to should you hit any bumps in a road.
Last, but not least, be clear in your communication about what you are looking for. It's easiest to let a designer run with their creative energy, but as the client, it's always a good idea to be there to reign it in when necessary.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. I always like to know what the creative process is and how long it actually takes. I feel a great sense of guilt when a new client comes to me and has been duped by any other skilled professional into paying too much for too little.
Always find out the creative process of the professional of your choice, and find out their time lines and turn arounds ... and how they are with deadlines. Once you know these things - try and stick to them yourself. As a client once I know what the creative process is, I try to adhere to a strict rule of meeting the professionals time requirements as well. This will lead to great mutual respect AND will aid in expediting project times.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. After you've done your research, you'll know exactly what type of services your looking for. Make sure the professional you are hiring can meet those needs, and if they cannot, make sure they have a network of skilled professionals that can. It's a good idea to keep your marketing/design in one place so everything is cohesive and consistent in design and pricing.
Be upfront about what you need to know, ask about terms and conditions, if there are contracts involved, estimated turn around time, deposits, final payments, and most importantly availability. It's no good if you find the professional you want, only to find out they can turn around a project within one week ... but they are only available to work on it in a month.
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. It's always important to know what your budget is. Can you afford to hire a professional for a full branding/marketing identity - or can you afford just a business card? Gather your research information, along with your needs and desires before talking with your chosen professional. Be honest and up front about what you can and can't afford, and what you're looking for from your designer.
A lot of times, I'll have new clients come to me with a very small budget and very large dreams. Be willing to compromise on what you feel you need and listen to the suggestions of your professional. If they are worth their salt, they won't lead you astray and most will be willing to create a payment plan, or outline the projects for you in order of importance, so you can get everything done.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. My work is a clear representation of my both my personality and that of my client. 90% of the time I've given the ideas and tools to make sure that every aspect of marketing and design meets my clients needs, and then I'm allowed to create to my hearts content.
I don't stop until my client is 100% satisfied with the outcome, and I'm just as proud to put my name on the final product.
My work attracts clients that are in the market for a timeless design that will grow with them, and can be easily modified for whatever the future will bring.
It's a win-win-win situation for the client and myself, and I think that is what keeps me going and designing at my best.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. I love taking my dog to work everyday. I work from my home, so I have the freedom to keep a schedule that I'm most comfortable with, and to be surrounded by the art, music, and animals that are important me - without the risk of offending or turning anyone off due to style or taste or allergies.
I also love the freedom of being able to pick and choose my projects. I've been a designer for 15+ years, and launched my own business officially 5 years ago ... it took 3 years just to make sure I paid my dues. Now that I have a reputation and most of my business is word of mouth, it's nice to know that if a project doesn't appeal to me, or if I don't feel I can do the project the service it requires I can pass it on to a networking skilled professional, or turn it down all together, without any guilt.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. I do a lot of website designs for small upstart business and the most common question I get is: do you host my site?
My answer is always: No. I do not personally host any clients' website or purchase their domains for them. In the event that the client has a change of heart, isn't enjoying my work or working with me, I like for them to have the security of knowing that they still own their domain name and their server space.
Another question I get all the time is: what can you do for me?
My answer: Pretty much whatever you need! Print design, web design and small business branding/marketing is my speciality. AND if there is something you need that I can't do, I have a wonderful network of skilled professionals that I can outsource to, to meet your needs.
Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?
A. Honestly, I enjoy working with all of my clients. They always give me the freedom to design for them as I would for myself.
But, I have to say, my favorite moment as a designer was when I finally finalized my own marketing and branding. For years, every year, I would redesign my own personal logo and website. When I finally decided to use my own image for my logo, it was like a huge sigh of relief. I finally felt that I had created an identity for myself that I could use and be proud of for years ... and I have. I truly exist within my own brand.
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. I wish it wasn't so harsh, but I'm not a phone person ... I'm also not a "meet in person" person. This isn't because I don't enjoy people - it's because I work on multiple projects at once. In any given day I'm working on at least 6 projects, and it's easier for me to communicate via email and continue to multi-task.
I'm always willing to meet in person and have a cup of coffee with a client, especially if they are local. It's good to put a face to a name/voice/email, and I'm all for that, but I have to schedule it way in advance so I can prepare my other clients' for my absence from the work day.
Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. Art runs in my family ... most of my uncles are artists, one is even an art teach at a university. I thought, while in school, I wanted to go the business route ... I soon learned it just wasn't for me. I think far too outside the box for that. I took an art class my senior year of high-school and got a job at a local newspaper doing the pagination (layout) of the paper itself ... it was love at first typesetting.
Q. Tell us about a recent job you did that you are particularly proud of.
A. I just recently wrapped the development and design of apublicrelationscompany.com
A local PR firm and close friend of mine who relates closely with Whales ... as it turns out, the whale was a great inspiration for me within her logo and her website. It's unbelievably cute and functional and really captures her personality. I'm very proud of the final outcome of all of her marketing materials.
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. I'm currently far to busy to take time off for outside schooling, but I subscribe to numerous design magazines that keep me up to date on the latest tips and techniques of the programs I use ... including new technology out there that will help expand my services to my clients.
Q. Describe your most recent project, what it involved, how much it cost, and how long it took.
A. I've been working with a new client creating her marketing and branding for a trade show. Her primary goal was to create press kits and packaging for her product, as well as complete the design on her stationery and create new ads.
We completed the following projects: tri-fold brochure (100), pocket folders (30), strap packaging, tag packaging, 13 stacked sales sheets, business cards, letterhead and envelopes.
The final invoice was less than $1500 (which included design, printing and shipping fees).
Q. If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details here.
A. My pricing system is incredibly simple. I have flat rates for most of my common design projects and I always provide a price accurate estimate and contract before any work begins. Contact me with your design needs and I'll be happy to get back with you with a proposal ASAP.
Q. If you were advising someone who wanted to get into your profession, what would you suggest?
A. Definitely go to school. Take all of the art classes you can - and then focus on the programs. Graphic/web design these days is mostly computerized. If you can't use the programs, you'll have a very hard time dealing with printers and other service providers.
Also, build your portfolio. You can graduate top of your class - but if you don't have a portfolio to show what you can do and have done, your degree won't mean anything.