The Designer, on the other hand, is a Creative who objectively interprets the task at hand in a way that reflects a formula or a structure. Much to your surprise, not all Designers have artistic capabilities. A design can be created through a rudimentary understanding of how basic geometric shapes can combine and build the foundation for a more complex form. A house is but a triangle sitting atop a square. A bowl of fruit is nothing more than a series of curves. Can you see the objectivity in how the Designer visualizes the creative unit? Yet each Designer has an individual style but these styles do not inhibit the purpose behind each design.
When you, the Client, hire the Designer, you must ask yourself, based on her past work, how will this designer sufficiently interpret and efficiently execute my idea? You have an idea that needs to be visualized in a way that clearly conveys your message to your audience. So research your Designer, look at her portfolio and try to find the former Client’s vision in the design. If so, then that’s the Designer you need to hire. Unlike the Artist, the Designer has a broader set of skills that can be adapted to address various types of design inquiries, ranging from branding and identity to marketing to interactive design to web design to print.
However, each individual Designer can have a preference towards the work in which they choose to specialize. And not every Designer knows how to design outside of their specialization. So be careful when browsing for your Designer.
The act of hiring and or compensating a Designer for a design is called a job. A design job is a specific creative task to be resolved in a way that reflects the Client’s vision. When working with a Designer, be detailed in explanation, from the color scheme to the type to the imagery you conjure in your mind. You, the Client, are a story teller and the Designer is here to visually tell that story. Do not compromise your vision, but trust in your Designer. She's doing a lot more than "whipping up something cool." Your Designer is collecting data, such as your purpose, your long term goals, your function, your intended audience. You may think that your Designer is just going through the formalities of understanding your intentions, but it is much deeper than that. These details are just the beginning to the construction of your Designer’s formula. Never mind the research that will follow to determine what colors will reflect a certain emotion, or the typefaces that will complement the imagery associated with the design, the layouts that can be most easily read, and so on and so forth.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say the creative task at hand needed to be designed for a child. With one factor, the intended audience, the formula changes. Now there’s a bright color palette to evoke feelings of happiness; large, round type with basic vocabulary to be easily read by young eyes; a simple layout to allow a lackadaisical navigation through the page. A much different approach than designing for a punk rocker, wouldn’t you agree? In this partnership, allow your Designer to take control. She holds the formula that will take your vision and transform it into the visual remedy that will radiate your message.
Proposing edits are integral to the Designer’s process, unlike the Artist’s process. However, choose your edits wisely because one wrong move and your Designer will protect the integrity of a good design. If you don’t understand what makes a good design, just ask. It is the Designer’s job to explain to you, the Client, why certain elements strengthen a design, while others can weaken it. Troubleshooting a design is situational; a strength in one aspect of a design can be harmful to another. Let’s say you’re designing wedding invitations and you just found a beautiful script you’d like to use somewhere in the design. Scripts are commonly associated with romantic settings and special events, especially weddings, so using this specific typeface is a good design suggestion.
But you like the script so much, well maybe we could just put the whole invitation in this script. Bad idea. Scripts are generally harder to read and legibility is such an important factor in conveying information about your event. Now how do we resolve this issue without disregarding the client’s edit? We can use the desired script as an accent typeface. We’ll put headings or titles in the script, especially you and your soon-to-be spouse’s names. For the body text, we can use an easily read serif typeface. Using a mix of typefaces will help create a hierarchy. See how I tailored the client’s edits to enhance the design? Designing is a compromise rather than an artistic expression of one’s self.
But this compromise does not condone reckless Client behavior. Yes, the Designer operates in the digital realm where the possibilities are endless with Ctrl Z, but don’t forget about what happened to the Digital Artist. The process does not always end with a neatly packaged InDesign folder or a pdf in your email’s inbox. Like the Artist, the Designer needs you, the Client, to voice your suggestions early in the process, to respect her time, and not waste her resources. She is investing in you as much as you are in her.
As a Designer, it is her duty to put her Clients before her personal aesthetics so that the Client’s vision can shine through the design. The design becomes an extension of the Client’s voice, self-image, and brand. I know that’s scary to put that kind of responsibility on someone you just met, but the Designer has her own brand to protect. Your design also becomes a reflection of your Designer, her portfolio, her credibility within her field. Do not underestimate your Designer’s formula, crafted by stacks of design textbooks, countless seminars, hour long online tutorials, work sessions with her colleagues, and freelancing for less than the value of her work. So Clients, let your Designer visually guide you and open your eyes to see the world from the Designer’s perspective.