Do you think these are problems? Part two

Continuing on my thinking process about this recent post I am moving on to #2 of the list, “A Thick Skin”.  I have to agree whole heartedly with Addison Duvall on this one.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that with your design degree you know better than your customer what will look the best for their project.  Then, when they don’t agree you are crushed and have no motivation to give the job your continuing best effort.

Luckily, you take a few of these hits early in your career and one of two things happens:

a) You decide that being a designer isn’t for you and head into a new direction.  The only problem with this is if your ego doesn’t downsize you will encounter blow after blow in whatever career you choose.  You very well may be brilliant, but sooner or later someone will take you down.

b) You grow a thick skin. I have been a designer for over 25 years now.  When I start working with a new client, right from the beginning, I tell them “Give me your honest opinion of the designs.  You will not hurt my feelings.  This is part of the process and I want you to be happy with what you get.”

Now why would I start out this way?  First, it’s because I’m from the South and live in the South.  We are raised to not hurt other people’s feelings.  People here will often not be completely satisfied with what they pay for because they didn’t know how to tell the designer they didn’t like the work.  There might be some gentle hints, but if the designer isn’t very astute at picking up on the hints, the client will pay, but very likely will not be back to work with that designer again.  Second, it just gives people the freedom to tell you what they like and don’t like so you can deliver a better product to them.

I can also tell you from experience, that you may have one fabulous design, but it might not do the job it needs to do.  Most of the time your clients are going to know their target market much better than you do.  One example that keeps me on track is a used car business I had as a client for a number of years.  It physically pained me to rearrange my lovely design into a mishmash, hodge podge, break-every-design-rule, product on the client’s insistence.  But, guess what.  He consistently had one of the highest rates of return I have ever seen.  He knew his customers and what would catch their attention.

Lastly, as much as we don’t like to think about it, we are a commodity.  It doesn’t take much research for a client to find a designer who will listen to them and work with them and make them happy.   If you are regularly having your feelings hurt and resenting what your clients are telling you, then think long and hard about whether you would rather have a happy ego or have grocery money.




Do you think these are problems?

I was reading this post and it made me do some thinking.  Let me know your thoughts on this list.  Here are mine.  Oh, and this is going to take awhile so I have made them into six separate posts so you don’t have to read SO much at one time.  Like we have time for that anymore.  That’s another whole post for the future.

Good artists copy, great artists steal.  Pablo Picasso

1. Integrity – Personally the ability to share and see other designer’s work has been a lifesaver for me in the past few years.  I’m from the dark ages of pre-internet and remember the days of flipping through Print and Communication Arts magazines trying to jump start my poor brain with a serious deadline breathing down my neck.

I live and work in a small town and without the internet would not get the opportunity to see what the trends are to even know they are out there.  Pinterest and Behance are my main sources of new design work right now.   Pure plagiarism is wrong.  Give credit where credit is due, absolutely.   I think plagiarism is what Picasso meant by “copy” and what he meant by “steal” was to take someone’s idea and put your own twist on it to make it yours.  I think that is what most designers do when they get a spark of inspiration from looking at someone else’s work.  There is also a rare phenomenon where two people have the exact same idea  in different places. I have had that happen to me once in my 25 year career.  It’s weird, but it happens.

Most of my work has centered on small businesses with limited marketing budgets who still want to look good.   More than once I have had a client hand me a printed piece and want me to recreate it with their logo on it.  Each time I explain to them that I don’t copy someone else’s work and that we can all get in trouble for that sort of thing.  After the explanation they are very willing to let me create something with the same “feel” .  Many times people just don’t understand what we do as designers or that creativity does have some legal standing in the world.

Integrity is doing your own work using your own brain, doing what you said you would do to the best of your ability and being fair and honest in your dealings, business or personal.


Read this while I’m on vacation

If you happen to be reading this from June 16th – June 20th, 2014, I am on vacation. I happen to be in one of my favorite parts of the U.S. Jeff, Kentucky to be exact. Every June I go with my church youth group to repair homes in Appalachia with the organization Appalachia Service Project My first visit to Jeff was four years ago on this trip. This year we are going back and I hope to visit with the family we worked with then. Absolutely wonderful people there. It also happens to be beautiful in those mountains. I will post some photos when I get back.

So, for your reading pleasure while I am gone, please visit This is mind boggling that someone took such time and effort to put this book together.

Have a great week and I will be back at my computer as soon as the blisters from my wild and crazy construction skills have healed.

For the love of paper

I guess you’ve heard by now that print is dead, right? You know, we are all going paperless. Everything is going to be scanned into our computers and saved in the cloud.

Now, I will admit to being a geek. I love technology. My career as a designer started in the dark ages of waxing down columns of type, cutting Amberlith with an Exacto knife and Heaven help you if you screwed up too close to a deadline. My mistakes now can be corrected in seconds most of the time and I don’t have to drive like a maniac to the FedEx box before pickup to deliver it to the printer. The half of my gray hair that didn’t come from my kids probably came from that sort of insanity.

After carting nine boxes of hardback books to donate to the library when I downsized my home, I broke down and started using an e-reader. It was actually a gift, but one that I had expressed a desire for. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell and feel of a real book. But, my back can’t continue moving those things.

Just recently I read this article ( ) that made me rethink my habit of downloading library books (though I still love the convenience of it) and start walking back into the actual building for my reading material. At least the ones that I want to retain information from. There is also another study I will post when I find it again, that indicates that actually writing on paper longhand is better for your brain as well.

No, my friends, we can’t give up on good ‘ole paper and ink just yet. Our thinkers haven’t evolved to the point we can retain what we learn from a computer. And then there are those nasty computer viruses…

Print is Big

On Friday (June 6th) I will be on a Marketing panel at the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce. We will be discussing all areas of marketing, with print being my area of expertise. So I have been doing my homework and gathering the statistics of the print industry. Here is one of my favorite infographics. It covers so much pertaining to print and how the industry is far from dying off. Thank goodness!!

Click on the image for tons of information.