Like most nuances about entrepreneurship, understanding Client Compatibility, may be something that can’t be taught, but rather experienced. Over time, most service oriented entrepreneurs learn these subtleties about client relationships usually through tremendous trial and error and considerable stress.
It was after one of these experiences in 2019, after only what I could describe as a bad break-up (and there have been many) with a client when I thought, there has got to be a better way for me to decide who my ideal client is. If you’re anything like me, you become personally invested in your client relationships. These relationships are quite close and intimate - I give of my time and energy. They take me away from my family and personal time, I become emotionally invested in their success, I feel their losses, I share in their excitement. Even though I tried at times to adjust my level of emotional investment in clients, for sake of what I thought was self-preservation, I realized quickly this is what makes me - me and what makes the experience of working with me unique.
I thought, if I give my clients the attention of a lover/friend/family, why not examine the dynamic just as closely, it was then Dr. Gary Chapman’s Love Languages screamed loudly as a possible solution.
The Five Love Languages
Graphic Designers may or may not be wizards. I’m kind of leaning towards “may”; we literally create something out of nothing every single day, and that’s basically magical.
As fun as this industry is, it takes years of hard work, practice (and more practice), determination and focus to succeed. If you’re in the process of diving into the wonderful world of design, take a look at these popular myths.
Graphic Design Myth #1: It’s easy
This may very well be one of the biggest myths about graphic design. Looking at iconic logos like Nike, Adidas, BMW, and Apple (to name a few), it can be easy to see why their simplicity may be incorrectly seen as the result of a simple effort. Taking a design from conception to execution can be relatively straightforward sometimes, but it’s a process that involves several steps. Just because we’re in front of the computer most of the time (if you’re like me, maybe you’re in your PJs or on the beach), it’s easy to think graphic design is a stress-free cake-walk.
The truth is, this is a fast-paced industry where time rules everything; juggling multiple tasks within fixed time frames while having to ensure quality isn’t foregone is undeniably stressful. We are problem-solvers; and when you’re unable to deliver what your client envisioned, you may probably lose sleep over it. Fun times, folks. Fun. Times.
Graphic Design Myth #2: You have to spend your life’s savings on tech
You don’t need to spend the equivalent of a mortgage payment on a computer. No, seriously. As alluring as that brand spanking new iMac Pro looks, if it’s out of your range, don’t think a career in graphic design is entirely out of reach. I do all of my work (I use Photoshop, Illustrator, AfterEffects and InDesign) on my 17” Dell Inspiron. Is it ideal? Not really, but it’s what’s available at the moment! I’m in the process of eyeing my next buy; another Dell. Because design tends to be RAM-heavy and demanding on your processor and graphics/video cards, a solid gaming computer will do the trick. I’m currently checking out Dell’s Inspiron Gaming Laptop series. They pack a mighty punch without doing mortal damage to your pocketbook; sounds like a win to me! Next post, I’ll share some of my favourite design software resources.
Graphic Design Myth #3: You need a degree in Graphic Design
Before the era of the Internet (yes, there once was a time the WWW did not exist), most designers went to school to learn their craft. Me? Entirely self-taught. To be completely candid, I simply could not afford the cost to enroll in a university for the pursuit of a Graphic Design degree. I would have given my left kidney (hey, right kidney, luh you!) to attend AI, but it was out of the question. Instead, Google (hi, Bae!), YouTube (although I much preferred reading blogs), Amazon (books, y’all!) and my soon-to-be peers lit the way. The process of learning anything, especially teaching yourself, is full of stops and starts – don’t be discouraged if things aren’t clicking right away, keep trying until you get it right and most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask others for help (that includes me!).
An interesting thing happened during my journey to becoming a graphic designer; I learned the way I learn is not the way I was taught in school. This made me realise that I could have been an even better student during my school years (Chemistry, we could have had it all) if I was being taught in a way that’s compatible with how I learn. I learn by reverse-engineering. This meant taking already assembled files and taking them apart one layer at a time, one asset at a time, to learn how they fit together. I’m doing this now with motion graphics, btw!
Graphic Design Myth #4: Ongoing education is unnecessary
Uh…yes, it is! Whether you’re a graphic designer, a rocket scientist or a magician with a residency contract at a top-rate hotel in Vegas, you need to stay on top of trends, changes, and updates in your field or else you put yourself at risk of becoming obsolete. How? It’s easier than you may think: subscribe to podcasts, newsletters, magazines (digital or print), attend webinars and network with peers so you can keep abreast of industry changes that may impact your business
Graphic Design Myth #5: We can read minds
Despite what you may think, we can’t read minds (well, maybe except on alternating Thursdays and only when there’s a full moon). Communication is essential, and clear communication is priceless. You and your clients will save a great deal of time and money if you’re able to communicate effectively with each other.
Sometimes, it’s easier to communicate your plans with sketches, charts or presentations for a client who may not be able to understand concepts on a computer. Don’t be afraid to step outside your normal workflow; it may make life easier for everyone.
Graphic Design Myth #6: You have to design on a computer all the time
Don’t underestimate the power of the doodle! Whether you’re in a creative rut or just beginning a project, picking up a pencil and paper can be an awesome way to let your brain free-wheel and allow ideas to flow. Some of those initial ideas might not be quite what you’re looking for, but keep going and let those creative juices get a-flowin’.
Nicky is our Creative Wiz! She's a self-taught graphic designer with a life-long love affair with the beach and large bodies of water. A professional Netflix binger and full-time toddler-wrangler, you can find her devouring the latest episode of The Walking Dead in her down time. Also, caramels > chocolates.