How To Find The Best Graphic Designer (5 Easy Steps)

Graphic Design is a very b-r-o-a-d term.

When someone says:

I’m a graphic designer!

it is not immediately clear what they actually do on a daily.

Because there are a number of different responsibilities encompassed by the umbrella term graphic designer.

Do you need a professional logo or a website design?

Want social media graphics, Facebook ads or new business cards?

Or maybe you just need to find a creative to help you with designing for digital and print.

If you’re a project manager or simply start your new business, you’re probably not even slightly tempted to do this type of work yourself.

Finding the right graphic designer to implement your vision is critical. Click To Tweet

No matter what your needs are, you need an expert in the field.

You will need a skilled graphic designer who specializes in the type of graphic design that needs to be done.

So before you hire a designer from sites like Upwork or Fiverr to do it for you, there are some considerations that need to be taken into account.

So I prepare this Step-by-step guide on how to find the right candidate for you next design project.

First and foremost, It’s important to remember that you are not simply:

hiring someone to design a graphic

but rather, to listen to your needs and help you achieve your business goals.

Graphic design needs to solve a specific problem. It might be that you need a new logo & brand identity because you want to present consistent and cohesive look & feel of your company, product or service.

With that being said, your brand needs to create an impression on your customers, and it’s essential for that impression to reflect your business’ mission and vision.

To convey who you are what you stand for.

What’s the bottom line?

Other designer can make beautiful things, but design is actually about what works. Click To Tweet

Here’s the deal:

The wrong type of designer can result in low-quality, inappropriate designs and ultimately fewer customers, fewer conversions, and actually a loss in revenue.

But here’s what I promised you in the first place.

Check out my guide to help you hire the right and best graphic designer for your needs.

The 5-step guide to hiring the best designer in a nutshell:

  1. Understand creative positions
  2. Outline the scope of work
  3. Search for a specific skill set
  4. Review past work and experience
  5. Interview selected designers

Let’s go over each of the steps and talk about them in more detail.

The ultimate goal of this guide is to give you the best possible choice. So that your business can thrive and meet your objectives.

1. Understand creative positions

It’s important to distinguish among the types of designers when hiring one for your design project.

Graphic designer in general is a creative services provider in the field of Visual Arts that has experience in designing for both print and digital.

But designer never equals a designer.

Graphic designers assemble together images, typography, motion graphics to create a piece of design. Click To Tweet

The main responsibility of the graphics designer’s job is to present information in a way that is both accessible and memorable.

But there are plenty of applications, so there are plenty of creative positions as well.

Graphic designers can work in print media (packaging, brochures, business cards etc.) or web media (social media graphics, app designs, website designs etc.) or both (logos, brand identity systems).

When looking for the right graphic designer you should discern between these types of designers:

The list can go on and on, but in general these are the most popular types of designers.

What’s the point?

The whole point is to find the right person for the type of work that needs to be done.

Graphic Design field is very broad and the tools and technology changes very rapidly.

That’s why is very important to understand first what do you actually need and hire the right person that specializes in the type of design that you need.

Ultimately you don’t want to suffer the consequences of a missed deadline because a packaging designer got stuck in the process of website creation and can’t embrace the complexity of the task.

It’s not his fault.

Design is general touch the same ground: typography, colors, composition.

But the tools, my friend, and the years of experience can get you there smoothly and fast.

So, let’s have a closer look at those major creative positions.

What does a logo designer do?

Logo designers are graphic designers who specialize in creating a distinctive look & feel of a company, product or service.

They usually work for branding agencies, design studios or as independent freelance graphic artists.

Logo designers create trademarks (brand marks), logotypes (word marks), or a combination of both. Click To Tweet

Logo design is being considered as the quintessence of a graphic designer’s art.

It’s the distillation of something big and complex into something small and unique.

But the job of a logo designer is far from being easy.

It requires an enormous amount of patience and an obsession with getting it right.

Remember that a logo is the most visible piece of graphic design that represents your business.

Therefore, the process of creating a logo requires rigorous testing of dozens or hundreds of concepts before arriving on final concept.

A logo is something that can hold everything. Click To Tweet

Some of the logo designers also offer brand identity packages and therefore may call themselves brand identity designers.

Who is a brand identity designer ?

Brand Identity Designer
Arek Dvornechuck Brand Identity Expert from New York

 

Logo design and brand identity is kind of inseparable.

So that if logo designers create trademarks and/or logotypes, then brand identity designers take it a step further.

Graphic Designers who specialize in Brand Identity Design do much more than just creating a logo.

They are responsible for the comprehensive brand identity system that includes sets of visual rules of how you present your brand image to the world (defined by brand guidelines).

Brand identity package includes:

  • Logo Design
  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Layouts
  • Stationery Design
  • Brand Guidelines
  • and more

Identity designers use tools like:

  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign

Keep in mind that graphic designers who specialize in the field of Brand Identity Design do not create brands neither they do branding.

That’s a misconception.

A brand is a relationship between customers and the business. And branding is a process of building awareness and extent loyalty.

What you can see (the design) we call brand identity or corporate identity or just visual identity (both).

Therefore you should rather use term brand identity design if you refer purely to look & feel.

Simply remember that designers don’t design brands, neither they do branding.

They rather design for brands.

Read more about the differences between brand, branding and brand identity.

A Web Designer is not necessarily a Web Developer

A web designer is a specific type of graphic designer that specializes in the visual design and usability of websites.  They’re focused on the “front-end” portion of a website and aesthetics like page layouts, colors, fonts, and images.

This is someone who is both creative and technically inclined and uses both these attributes to build or redesign websites. The web designer has the ability to understand what is needed to make a website functional and easy to use, but at the same time make it aesthetically appealing to the user.

However, a web designer does not necessarily code the website. He has the knowledge of the what is possible to do in terms of a website functionality but he passes those designs to a web developer who has experience in coding and is able to bring them to life.

A web developer focuses on the “back-end” technical aspects of a website like “slicing” an image design for a website into HTML/CSS, coding, optimizing images, etc.  Typically, a developer will pick-up where a designer left-off and build the unseen “guts” of a website.

Therefore if you project requires some specific functionality or you simply need a dedicated content management system rather than using platforms like WordPress or Squarespace, you should hire both web designer and web developer.

What’s the job of a UX Designer

A user experience designer (UX) is primarily concerned with how the product feels. UX Design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product.

They explore many different approaches to solving a specific user problem. There’s no one specific answer to that question, but their main concern is to ensure that the product logically flows from one step to the next.

UX Designer uses:

  • Photoshop
  • Sketch
  • Illustrator
  • Fireworks
  • InVision

UX Designer delivers:

  • Wireframes of screens
  • Storyboards
  • Sitemap

User Experience Designers simply identify verbal and nonverbal stumbling blocks, they refine and iterate to create the “best” user experience.

What are Packaging Designers responsible for

Packaging designers create packaging that attracts the eyes of consumers and preserves products. Packaging makes physical and emotional connections with consumers and helps to market a product.

Anything you can see on the store shelves was basically designed by packaging designers. The right packaging can draw a consumer’s attention and highlight the quality of the product if done correctly.

The packaging job is to differentiate a product from its competitors and navigate consumers. Click To Tweet

Think about the brands you love and buy on a daily basis. They have distinctive packaging that you can recognize from overwhelming variety of products. Let’s say you love Tropicana juice, so when you open the store’s refrigerator you can easily recognize the packaging without spending too much time searching for the product.

Package designers meet with the clients to develop an understanding of their packaging needs. Then they assess consumer tastes, market trends and product details to conceptualize package design concepts. Together, clients and designers determine how to meet goals pertaining to cost, safety, and branding.

Package designers then create a prototype that can be further analyzed. They work with engineers, consumer safety groups and accountants to ensure that their prototype is safe and cost effective. When a product design gets final approval, it goes into production.

What does a motion designer do?

Motion graphic designers use graphic design principles in a filmmaking or video production context (or other temporally evolving visual media) through the use of animation or film techniques.

They create artwork for the web, television or film. This could include movie clips, trailers, commercials, Facebook video ads, title sequences, etc. They use visual effects, animation and other cinematic techniques to bring life to their creations.

Put simply, they design graphics that are in motion – just as their title suggests. They’re able to tell a story in a way that a static image never could. By animating graphics and creating vivid visual effects, motion graphics designers bring a film, websites or commercials to an entirely new level.

Motion design is a very powerful technique to tell the story. As you may know, the best performing content on social media is moving graphics. Motion graphics designers are becoming desirable team members because they can step in and create an explanatory video for your product or service. It might be a video footage combined with visual effects or just an animated illustration.

Why 3D designer is a whole different level designer

The job duties of a 3D design artist vary by specific career. For example, 3-D animators use computers and specialized software, such as Maya and MotionBuilder, to add movement to characters and objects. A 3-D graphic designer also uses specialized software, such as CINEMA 4D, to create life-like images.

This is very different software from this of Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop that the rest of designers described here use. Therefore 3D designers is a whole different level of designers and require more computing power and years of experience to render 3D scenes.

Three-dimensional (3D) artists usually work in media production to create elements for video games or 3D movies.

Do I need a 3D graphic designer to design for my business? Well, the way I see it, you might need 3D graphic designers only if you projects involves creating photorealistic mock-ups from scratch or commercials that use the 3D objects that cannot be rendered in Adobe Creative Suite.

If your project requires rendering a packaging design, there are chances that Packaging Designers would also know how to execute the concepts. Moreover, general graphic designers can create pseudo-3D objects or simple 3D renderings by using plugin extensions.

What’s the role of an Art Director

An art director is someone who is responsible for the visual style as a whole. It is the title for a variety of similar job functions in theater, advertising, marketing, publishing, fashion, film and television, the Internet, and video games.

An art director is usually a higher rank of a graphic designer. It is a team leader and supervisor to all the other type of designers described here. But it can mean different things in different organizations.

Art director is like a chef, fusing together ingredients to produce a menu of delightful dishes Click To Tweet

Generally, it is someone who inspires and guides the vision of the design team. Art Directors’ job is to critique people’s work, work to deadlines and budgets, and discipline any designers who have become lazy. But the primary concern is to inspire and guide the team.

You might want to hire an Art Director who will manage a team of designers for you and ensure the work is done on time, under budget and the highest possible quality.

2. Outline the scope of work

Now, since we discussed different roles of graphic designers, it’s time to specify your needs in order to find the right person for your project.

What needs to be done?

If you need a logo alone – hire a Logo Designer, but if you feel that you need more than just a logo you will probably need to get an expert who will define how you brand looks.

Therefore you might need a brand identity package for your start-up. Or perhaps you think is time to take your company to the next level with a clearly defined visual system – it’s best to hire a Brand Identity Expert who will define a visual bottom line for all the other design endeavors.

If you need a website, you will need to hire Web Designer and Web Developer or a creative who does both. Depending on the complexity of your project. Do you need a custom website or can you do with a service like Squarespace?

Want to design a mobile app? Don’t hire a general designer then, but look for a UX Designer that specializes in the field of mobile app design. It will ensure that you’re going to get the best quality for the money spent.

The same rule applied to other graphic designer disciplines. And if your project is big enough or you simply don’t have time to manage a team of designers you should hire an Art Director who will oversee the project execution from concept to completion.

What’s the deal?

Instead of hiring a general graphic designer for a specific task you should look for a person who specializes in the particular graphic design field. I’m not saying that Web Designer will not be able to design a logo for you. The point is that he/she does not specialize in logo design and therefore won’t be as fluent in the process of logo design as a Logo Designer or a Brand Identity Expert is.

3. Search for a specific skill set

Once you specify what your needs are you should search in Google, and browse reputable websites that display graphic designers work in the category you’re hiring for.

Let’s say you need a Logo Designer. You should consider websites like Behance or Dribbble and look for specific skills.

While looking for the right designer you should ask yourself specific questions which will further allow you to rate each candidate:

Do they have the ability to provide with the work needed?

Do you like what you see in their portfolio (style, quality)?

Can you work remotely or do you want to meet in person?

These are some questions to consider, but again, every project is different therefore you should prepare your own list of questions. Just imagine your perfect candidate. How does he/she talk to you? How do they work? (the process) You can also ask around for referrals.

3. Review past work and experience

Reviewing a designer’s portfolio, which is the primary method for demonstrating these qualifications, is usually the best way to find the right fit for your project. Look for the past work, check case studies and find the style that you like.

If a web designer doesn’t have his/her own website to display the past work it usually means that he/she won’t be able to meet your expectations. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t know how to do it. It rather means that they’re not fluent enough or don’t have enough experience to provide you with the expertise needed.

Besides a good portfolio, a graphic designer should also demonstrate his/her ability to describe the… Click To Tweet

How they work and if they’re actually up to date with ever changing techniques. If you like the portfolio but you cannot find any blog you should check at least their social media profiles to see if they’re really the person behind the work.

During my career, I often hear managers complaining that the someone copied the work of another designer and has nothing to do with the project they presented.

Don’t let anybody scam you. It’s easy to copy and paste some images on your website, but it usually takes only a few minutes to check if this is actually the author of the work.

4. Narrow Down Your Candidates For Style & Quality

Prepare a list of designers’ portfolios and narrow down the list based on your criteria. It may differ from project to project, but you will be able to estimate the level of expertise based on the past work. You can find about how do they approach new clients by checking their blogs.

This is a creative field so most likely you won’t find a price tag on their websites. However, if you’re looking for a Logo & Brand Identity Design you might want to check my post – How Much Does Logo Design Cost.

While narrowing down the list, take into account:

  • the level of experience
  • the designer’s location
  • the past work (quality)

Remember to keep the list a little bit longer, because some of the designers might not be able to meet your deadlines due to work overload. Or perhaps they might not express any enthusiasm in working on your project due to different reasons, like budget, type of work, restrictions etc.

5. Interview selected designers

Once you have a few applicants, it’s a good idea to talk with them and see if they possibly make a good fit.  At this point, you’ve already seen their portfolio and read their blog.

The last step in the process of finding the right fit for your Graphic Design job is to contact them, whether by calling or sending an email. Some of the designers will facilitate the interview process by having a Questionnaire on their website. So fill it out and check how they will approach you.

Are they motivated simply by money? Are they really interested in providing you with the expertise you’re looking for? Perhaps you want to meet them in person so that way you can have a face to face experience before making any hiring decision.

Keep in mind that working with a graphic design artist is a lot different than working with a programmer.  In programming, you provide requirements and expect a very specific result. In graphic design, you may get something creative and unexpected. And that can often be a good thing.

So don’t treat creative people the same as technical people, they’re different!