Does it seem like you struggle communicating with your graphic designer?  There could be a number of reason why this happens, not all of them are his or her fault.

1) Graphic designers are not mind readers…..MOST designers can do a design in just about any style, but if you don’t tell them what you like or what you have in mind, then don’t expect them to figure that out with the first set of designs.  IT IS PERFECTLY natural to go back and forth with your designer a few times as part of the design process.  That’s one of the reasons not to wait until the last-minute to do a job, because that reduces the amount of “creative time” that can be invested into the project.  Unlike fine arts, graphic design is a group process that’s based on many more things besides what the artist likes or even what YOU like.

2) Not every Graphic Designer is highly gifted….and they are not all equally skilled.  The BEST graphic designer is a gifted artist that is very creative. But just as with any workers, there are a lot of mediocre ones and only a small handful of brilliant ones.  LOOK AT YOUR ARTIST’S ENTIRE BODY OF WORK closely before you hire anyone – if you like the majority of the work they’ve done, then that’s a good indication that they’ll be able to do something you’ll be happy with as well (I know, “duh!”, but people forget to do this all the time).  In any case, don’t blame them if you don’t like ALL their designs because sometimes they have to do things they don’t like (based on some other client’s likes or needs).

3) Most graphic designers are fine artists and  fine art is highly subjective…  ADVERTISING, on the other hand, is a different thing all together as it’s part “creative” and part “logic”.  For this reason, you’ll get better results of you work with a team of people that includes an Art Director who manages your graphic designer.  The Art Director makes sure that your advertising is not only interesting & creative (and visually attractive) but they also ensure that your Graphic Artist understands who your target market is, what your significant margin of difference is and what your company’s goals and needs are (to name just a few of the things they do).

4) Advertising is a process…I can’t tell you how many people are under the impression that the designer should be giving them a final design when they deliver the first draft to the client.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Hopefully you’ve communicated your tastes & wishes to your advertising team and when they submit the first design drafts to you, they will be CLOSE to what you want.  But if not, try to think about the design work they’ve submitted to you.  What do you like about it?  What don’t you like about it?  Try to visualize your artwork with a different color or photo.  Ask yourself if there is enough “white space” AND communicate all that to the Art Director (who will discuss it with the Graphic Designer).  Don’t hesitate to ask your Art Director to tell you what they think and to help you analyze and understand the pros & cons of each layout option.

5) Rely on the pros…..too many times I’ve had a client come back and tell me that her daughter didn’t like something about a design or her receptionist didn’t like the colors.  Of course it’s ok to ask other’s what they think….but try to remember who the pros are and who your target market is.  Ask your ad team what THEY think or call someone you know that’s in the same age and has the same demographics as your target market.  It is far more important for you to ask yourself if you think your target market will “like” it (or react to it) than it is for your 17-year-old daughter (unless she happens to be IN your target market and in that case remember that her’s is just one opinion out of a larger group.).

If you’re working with the right team you should be able to work through the design process and get to the point where you are satisfied with the work you’ve received.  If you’ve been through 3 or 4 sets of revisions and you still feel like you’re very far off then that is the point at which you can question if you’re with the right artist/team or not.  But ask yourself if you’ve been clear with your designer & team (and if you told them you want your ad to have a lot of “swish pop” or to be “interesting” then that doesn’t count because who the heck knows what that means anyway?).

(Please feel free to read my blog postings “How to Proof a Brochure” and that will help you in this area as well; also read “First the text, the rest will Follow”).