What you should know about… working with a freelance graphic designer

by Alie Jones.

So, full disclosure here: I’m primarily a mother, not a freelance graphic designer. It turns out you can’t graduate with a degree in Motherhood from BYU just yet, but Graphic Design is an option. So I graduated with my fancy art degree, and became a mother shortly thereafter. And the balance isn’t exactly, well, balanced. It’s a work in progress.

But! I still take a freelance graphic design job occasionally, and my big project right now (alongside growing another human in my belly) is for my dad’s new restaurant, When Pigs Fly BBQ. I’ve helped him grow his little business from the ground up with everything from the logo, menu boards, letterheads, business cards, and catering menus. I’ve even designed napkin dispenser inserts, EZ-Up canopies, t-shirts and banners. (For other clients, I design ordinary things like logos, websites, and wedding invitations. Designing for a restaurant isn’t the norm.)

Sorry, I got off on a tangent. Let’s get to Mika’s real question: What should you know about working with a freelance graphic designer? This is all my personal opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. Or an entire Morton salt shaker, whatever suits your fancy. I’ll break it down a little bit:

1 // My number one tip is please don’t just find ANY graphic designer, take the extra time to find a designer whose work you admire and connect with. Make sure the style you want to end up with is similar to the work they’ve done in the past. It’s easier on both of us, I promise!

2 // Have some sort of idea of what you want for your design before you hire us. Shortly after our initial correspondence, I often have clients send me visuals or create a pinterest board with designs and elements they like. This helps me get an instant feel for the specific style they’re looking for.

3 // My professors always told us: as a designer you can be two of these three: fast, cheap, or great. But you can’t be all three. (See infographic here.) Enough said.

4 // I’ve been burned a couple times by flakey clients. I now set up a contract and require 25-50% down-payment before I even begin working. Some designers work hourly, but (depending on the project) I usually work for a flat-rate. I find with smaller projects like logos and wedding invitations, you guys like to know upfront what it’s going to cost.

5 // Trust your instincts, but please trust ours as well! We’re professionals and we’ve got the eyes to know what looks good where. There’s always a balance to be found between the two of us. (This really goes back to number one though – I feel strongly that if you’ve chosen the right designer, the magic will come easily.)

So that about sums it up. Questions? Comments? Want to work with me? Check out my blog (click on art + design on the left) or instagram for work I’ve done in the past.

Thanks for having me, Mika!

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Editor’s note: this is the first in a series of posts aiming to draw on our collective knowledge and enrich our understanding of how things work. I was put in touch with Alie through a mutual friend when I first found out that Christian wouldn’t live – Alie’s sweet baby girl Amelia was born with anencephaly in 2012. Alie gave me some great advice about preparing for Christian’s birth and death and coping with life after loss.

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