12 things you should never say to a graphic designer — unless you want them to quit

    12 things you should never say to a graphic designer — unless you want them to quit

    Designers are people with nerves of steel. More than anyone else in the creative world, they’re subjected to revisions, changes, and questionable req...

    Designers are people with nerves of steel. More than anyone else in the creative world, they’re subjected to revisions, changes, and questionable requests. They’re used to it.

    However, even the toughest professionals can crack and go feral over that one tipping-point comment. If that happens, consider yourself designer-less.  

    We’ve put together a list of 12 things you should never say to a graphic designer unless you want them to call it quits (and tips on what to say or do instead). Read on! 

    “This will be a great opportunity for exposure.”

    Why not? There’s a good Slavic saying: “You can’t spread a ‘thank you’ on bread or put it in your pocket.” This means that no matter how sincere your gratitude is, it’s not going to pay the designer’s bills. The same applies to exposure. While it is, indeed, important for graphic designers to grow their personal brand and become better known in the industry (therefore, acquiring more people looking to collaborate with them), exposure isn’t a currency.  

    This phrase is particularly triggering to freelance graphic designers as they don’t have the benefits in-house designers enjoy. They have to do their own taxes, maintain a home office, buy all the supplies they need for their projects, update their equipment, and pay for software subscriptions (which can sometimes be very expensive!)

    So, when you promise a graphic designer exposure in exchange for their work, it can undermine their value and make them feel exploited.

    “Look, we’re on a budget, so could you give us a discount?” 

    Yet another money-related thing you shouldn’t say to a designer on our list. Because, well, we do live in a capitalist world. 

    Why not? First of all, there’s a fixed rate for a reason. If a designer is asking for a specific sum of money for their job, they do it because that’s how much they think their designs are worth. Trying to get them to lower their prices is nothing but insulting to a designer. 

    Besides, put yourself in the designer’s shoes: what if all of your clients were asking for a discount when they didn’t have the budget to pay full price? Most likely, you’d go bankrupt before you could even say ‘bankruptcy.’ At the end of the day, you’re working because you want to make a profit, right? 

    The thing you can do in a situation when you don’t have enough money is to put yourself in the designer’s shoes, literally (see what we did here?) Consider cheaper options, like using free online graphic design editors to take care of your visuals on your own. 

    There are currently lots of different options on the market that can help you craft designs no worse than those created by real designers. In fact, with VistaCreate, you can create beautiful, professional-looking designs in minutes for free!

    “Can you send us an editable copy of this?”

    Why not? Of course, as a customer, you want to get as much as possible for the money you pay. But asking a designer for an editable copy of the design is a very disrespectful thing to do. 

    When you hire a designer, you hire them for their artistic vision and their skill. You trust them to create a great design. So why would you want to change the end result yourself? At the end of the day, they are the professional here, not you. 

    Besides, it’s likely that the designer you’ve hired creates using complex, advanced software like Photoshop or Illustrator, and you might not have the opportunity or skill to edit it successfully without these tools.

    So, if you need to craft a design you’ll be editing regularly, take a look at DIY design options like VistaCreate. We offer a huge selection of templates created by professional designers that you can edit and customize to your liking. 

    Don’t worry about them not being unique. Read our guide on how to work with templates to make them look personalized, on-brand, and standing out from the crowd. 

    “It’s just a quick change.” 

    Why not? It’s never a quick change. Even if it is just a minor alteration you want to make, it might still take the designer some time.

    There are numerous reasons why it might be the case: 

    • some designers have numerous projects on their hands and can’t react to your request as swiftly as you want
    • some may be caught up with different work 
    • the “quick change” might look simple but actually be pretty major when you approach it.

    Instead of assuming something can be done in a matter of seconds, ask the designer how much time implementing the change you want will take and go from there. 

    And don’t worry, designers are usually pretty good at giving estimates and sticking to deadlines, so you won’t have to wait for any longer than they say. 

    “It’s just a little thing, I need it ASAP.”

    Why not? It would be a lovely thing if we all had a personal designer that was always there for us ready to create a bomb project the second we drop them a message. But, unfortunately, we don’t live in such a corporate utopia. 

    Wise designers have lots of things on their plate, so they often try to plan their day ahead. When you come through with a request to do something ASAP, it can disrupt their workload and throw off their schedule. 

    Besides, “ASAP” is a vague term in itself. When do you need the design ready? In the next 5 minutes? Half an hour? By noon? By the end of the day? Give a clear deadline and make everyone’s life easier. 

    “Just do your thing! You’re the expert here!”

    Why not? When you’re asking the designer to work their creative magic, they inevitably will do it. After all, they’re professionals (hopefully) with a refined artistic taste and a knowledge of what’s hot at the moment and what’s not. The only thing is, their vision of a design that looks good isn’t necessarily the same as yours.

    You’re the expert here basically says: ‘we [the clients] defer to your judgment to read our minds and give us something we didn’t even know we wanted.’ That is a lot of pressure to lay on a graphic designer…The bigger issue is the amount of freedom it gives the designer. This phrase gives us unlimited freedom to try to tell the story that you know best. We can deliver Picasso, but if you were looking for Rembrandt, there’s gonna be an issue.

    Jeff Sholl

    Instead of asking a designer to “work their magic,” give them clear instructions regarding what kind of design you need, including some references and clarifications. Not only will it increase your satisfaction from the art you get back and minimize the number of edits the designer will have to make in the future, but it will also help to take the strain off the designer and prevent them from feeling anxious about working with you.  

    “Make it look good.”

    Why not? Again, all people are different — what you think looks good or “pops” doesn’t always have the same effect on others. 

    So, when filing a task assignment for your designer, stay away from vague descriptors like “cool,” “edgy,” “fancy,” “modern,” etc. Even “trendy” is off limits — there are lots of different design trends circulating around, so unless you specify which one you’re talking about, there’s a high chance of disappointment on both sides. 

    Instead, opt for giving clear instructions,outlining the impact you want the final version of the design to have on you and — most importantly — your audience. 

    “Can you do many different versions of this? I’ll choose the one I like best.”

    Why not? You wouldn’t do it at a bakery, would you? Imagine you’re picking a cake for your wedding day. You wouldn’t ask the baker to make 10 different cakes for you to taste and pick which one you like most. Not for free, anyway. Each of the 10 cakes takes time, ingredients, and effort. 

    Similarly, each version of the design takes time and plenty of other resources (maybe, not tangible ones but definitely creative and motivational) to create. Time is money. If you’re not paying for each of the versions — don’t ask for the extra work.

    Instead, sit down with the designer and put together a creative brief so that you both understand exactly what you’re aiming for. Some of the things to settle on include:

    • The intended audience 
    • Where the design will be used (For example, if you’re looking to design a visual for social media, you should let the designer know which platform you’re using — each of them has different rules and guidelines.)
    • Aesthetics
    • Budget
    • Complexity

    However, there is one situation when you can ask for several different versions of a design: when you pay for each of them. Then it’s fair game.

    “Can you make the logo bigger?”

    Why not? We understand that you want your logo to be the star of the show. I mean, who wouldn’t want to generate as much brand awareness with each visual they put out there for the public to see. 

    However, if you want your logo to outshine other elements of the design, you should agree on it at the very beginning of your collaboration with the designer. Otherwise, it might be too difficult for them to accommodate your request later on in the design process. 

    Making the logo bigger often takes away from the design and throws off the visual hierarchy. Try to trust your designer when it comes to creating the most appealing visuals.

    “I need something exactly like this.” [Proceeds to send another designer’s work.]

    Why not? Every tattoo artist that respects themself isn’t going to use a colleague’s tattoo sketch. Every designer that respects themself isn’t going to use a colleague’s design. 

    Not only is it disrespectful and can stir up trouble in the designer circles but it’s also illegal. Did someone say copyright infringement? There will be legal consequences! 

    Instead, sit down with your designer and show them the project you like, pointing out the exact things that drew your attention. Then, discuss if it would be possible to implement these things into your design and let the designer deliver something similar, but in their own style. 

    Alternatively, just go to the designer whose work you liked — they’ll know what to do! 😉 

    “Can you use this image I found on Google?”

    Why not? Much like the previous point, using images off Google (or any other search engine) can get you into a lot of legal trouble. 

    The majority of pictures you see on Google Images are copyright-protected and aren’t for commercial use. Google’s selection of images with commercial licenses is pretty narrow, so it’s likely that you won’t find an appropriate picture for your project.

    And even if you do, there’s still a high chance that you won’t be able to use it in your project because the quality of the image, its resolution, is too low. 

    If you want to use a specific image in your design, you need to buy a stock photo from a dedicated resource. Or, alternatively, you can check out VistaCreate’s collection of creative assets. There, you’ll find plenty of photos, videos, vectors, and templates.

    “Just take the logo off our website.” 

    Why not? You can’t make a good salad with rotten veggies. For the final project to be good, you need to ensure that all the inputs are of the right quality. 

    When you screenshot a logo off a website, its resolution is criminally low. Therefore, the logo will look pixelated and blurry in the final design, especially if you’re creating a visual for print. 

    When asking for a design that features your logo, you need to provide the designer with a vector file. Then it can be resized larger or smaller to suit any design without loss of quality. 

    By the way, if you’re looking to design a logo for your brand, check out Logomaker — this tool can help you create a professional-looking logo in no time. All you need to do is put in information about your business such as your business name, industry, and associated keywords, and the system will automatically create a selection of different logo styles you can choose from.

    Working with designers and other creators requires some amount of know-how. Unless you can provide adequate context, expectations, and compensation, you may be better off trying your hand at design yourself using tools like VistaCreate. 

    Valerie Kakovkina

    Content marketing manager at VistaCreate. Valerie loves all things marketing, with her favourite areas being email marketing and social media. When out of the office, Valerie loves travelling, going to parties, and helping her friends with their art projects (oh to be surrounded by artists).

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