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What are the top 3 traits or skills every graphics designer must have to excel?

Can you suggest any tips or insights to develop your graphics designer expertise?

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Sal Randazzo in Oakland, California

119 months ago

Hi Blaine,

I agree with your comments regarding criticism. Designers must also acknowledge that some clients are unwilling to share ideas or communicate clearly regardless of your professionalism and that they should discretely resign their account. Aligning yourself with good clients who are open to collaboration and respectful of professional boundaries will yield the best results.

Regards, Sal

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Cathy in Denver, Colorado

119 months ago

Be careful if you're working freeelance - you need to be selective about who you're working for. I've been ripped off by a couple of people I shouldn't have done work for in retrospect.

Unless you're in a big city market, you won't make much money as a staff person. Lots of people want these jobs and are willing to work for nothing to get expereince.

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Rosalind Blaine in San Antonio, Texas

119 months ago

Cathy and Sal --

You're both absolutey right. I'm freelancing right now, and recently took on a client referred to me from a designer I knew and trusted pretty well. I should have been suspicious during our first meeting when I asked her about the deadlines for her projects, and she said she didn't have any -- that she would just call me whenever she needed something done. Another red flag was that her assistant told me, "Mary might not know how to tell you what she wants, but she knows what she likes when she sees it." (Uh-oh!)

This client refused to abide by a production schedule, and wanted to communicate only by telephone -- mainly because everything we agreed to in writing (by email) was changed or contradicted. Despite having followed her instructions, she was unhappy with my work and complained about having to give me specific instructions on the job, and having to sign off on proofs. I finally suggested to her that perhaps it would be better if she found another designer who suited her needs, since our work styles obviously didn't mesh. It killed me to give up the account, which was a lot of money -- but I could see it turning into a nightmare down the road, and possibly having to fight for payment (which I've also done before).

Sometimes you have to weigh the pros and cons of doing a job for a Client From Hell or passing on it and looking for something else.

R. Blaine

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Brenda Vitali in Signal Mountain, Tennessee

104 months ago

I recently moved to chattanooga from NH. I have been trying to locate jobs for graphic design in Hixson area. I am finding very few places. Any help anyone has would be great. I have done mostly production graphics for 17 years and would love to find something in my area.

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R U Experienced in Harrison City, Pennsylvania

93 months ago

3 main things; Talent, Creativity & Strong Work Ethic. The additional useful traits/things to have are; if self-employed doing contract work, a lawyer friend (let's get rid of the phrase FREE-lance), adability (change is inevitable). A thing not to have, is what drove us all into this field in the first place, an ego.

Remind clients, especially the ones that want it yesterday (usually the ones that don't want to pay) "there is not a big button that we push to make all your changes or for that matter, reads your fricken mind"...

still want to be a Graphic Designer?

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Kia in Bronx, New York

93 months ago

I'm not really a graphic design major but I like graphic design and want to look into getting into the field? How can I learn more about the field without having formal education in the area?

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R U Experienced in Harrison City, Pennsylvania

93 months ago

Hi Kia,

A mentor or google "graphic design publications" is the best way to learn more about graphic design without majoring in it. The base of all graphic design is design. We all have pretty much the same software and hardware. Unfortunately you do have to learn how to use the both, but a good design foundation makes the difference in this field along with production knowledge. My advice would be to find a mentor in your area. There are people who want to pass along their knowledge. People you actually work in the field are the best resource to gain quick knowledge. I work with people who come out of the art colleges everyday. I am surprised at the lack of information they have when it comes to preparing files for commercial printing. The technology in this field changes so frequently, that if the teachers are only teaching, chances are they are behind in some of the technology. File format conversion, overprinting, chokes, traps, bleeds, dot gain, grain direction (when applied to scoring), line screens (LPI), imagesetting output resolution, vector/bezier curves, etc., do not seem to be taught. If they are out there find a school that has instructors that are also working in the field of your interest.

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debbie_lef in Los Angeles, California

90 months ago

All of the comments above are right on. But I have a question about the industry evolving (once again) to be most web specific. I know that web design has been around for a long time, but I was comfortable in my "print" position and we had others that programmed designs to interact with web. How much FLASH, Dreamweaver and CODE do we really need to know. It's all a little overwhelming.

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Designer in Vallejo, California

86 months ago

The trend toward web based/interactive design will crash within 12-16 months. Once big brother finds a way to tax the internet/video as a vehicle for getting the message across, everything will go back towards the print side. All those that call themselves designers but can only work in an web based environment will be left without any wanted skills in the job market. Can't count how many times I have come across a designer who didn't even know what a vector was or cmyk..... better yet the difference between dpi and ppi.

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