Your Designs Are Not Your Reflection

Graphic design is typically making a design for another company using their ideas and their branding. I can’t tell you how many times my feelings have gotten hurt after a client doesn’t like my first draft. I almost always misinterpret that as “We don’t like this design and we actually don’t like you either.”

What they are actually saying is:

This isn’t what we were envisioning. Can we try something different?

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Our job as designers is to bring our customer’s idea to paper. Yes, we get a lot of input into how that looks and yes, making things look GREAT are what our customers hire us to do…


Most of your work, young designer, may not be portfolio-worthy. And that’s ok.

Your job as a graphic designer is to take your client’s ideas and turn them into reality using the rules of strong design. Use your design wisdom to guide the content portion of the project and possibly display a few directions using a mood board before beginning design. After a few years in the business, you’ll get a little better at reading the mind of your clients but just remember, if someone doesn’t like the first proof, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you.

Also, our clients have the big task of communicating their ideas to you knowing nothing about strong design, so ask great clarifying questions, encourage them by validating their ideas, and guide them through your design process. Allow for additional proofs, expect additional variations, and learn to trust your instincts.

Laura BalfourComment