A Practical Guide to Working with Graphic Designers
April 23, 2008

A Practical Guide to Working with Graphic Designers by The Graphic Artists Guild of Albany offers insightful information to hiring a Graphic Designer. Details change according to different designers needs but this guide offers the basics. Here are some highlights:

Good graphic design is hard work, and a team effort. Remember, a Graphic Designer is a consultant hired to solve problems. A Designer will challenge your ideas and preconceived notions to find the best solution for getting your project noticed in a marketplace exploding with information. Be prepared to work closely with the Designer and make decisions to support the creative process. Clear communication and mutual respect between the Client and Designer are essential. On day one, start with the nuts and bolts: Clearly communicate your vision for the project, its audience, objective, and the message you want to send. This is vital for putting the Designer’s expertise to work to create the visual piece that accomplishes your goals.

Sample Production Schedule

Project: brochure with previously reviewed copy
Different types of projects have different production schedules and turnaround periods. This schedule includes one round of revisions (11/21) after a layout was chosen (11/7). These revisions should be clearly negotiated in the contract. You can have as many or as few revisions as you feel necessary; but, additional changes not negotiated up front are considered Author’s Alterations (AAs) and are billed in addition to the original estimate. AAs are usually billed at an hourly rate. In the unlikely case of a complete redesign, a new contract should be generated between the client and the Designer. To budget your time and set realistic deadlines, start with your target date of publication and work backwards. Be flexible and willing to add a few cushion days to avoid rushing the job—especially if several people must sign-off on (approve) the project.

  • 10/1 Meet with designer to discuss parameters and scope of project
  • 10/8 Client sign-off on estimate and schedule (allow 5 to 7 working days; if vendors’ quotes, such as for printing, photography, or illustration aren’t needed for the assignment, estimates may be generated more quickly)
  • 10/9 Provide designer with completed copy, camera-ready logos, and/or artwork (allow 10 to 14 working days for initial design mock-ups)
  • 10/21 Review mock-ups and agree on a direction (allow 7 to 10 working days to submit final designs)
  • 11/7 Receive actual layout for approval (allow 5 to 7 working days for internal client routing and sign-offs)
  • 11/14 Return to Designer with comments (allow 5 to 7 working days to make any changes after review)
  • 11/21 Changes are made with final sign-off on proof to go to press. (Note: this time frame will depend how extensive changes were)
  • 12/15 Delivery of finished piece from the printer (allowing for 10 to 15 working days for printing; printing time depends on the complexity of the project and the printer’s schedule)