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What do designers do?

Designers share insights into their jobs...

DTG quite frequently receives email and inquiries from readers or students asking what it's like to be a designer, or to be involved in the creative field. Rather than answering the same question over and over, we decided to go out there and let some others share their experiences.
      We hope you enjoy these thoughtful comments as much as we did. BRAVO! Each of these will win a great prize from the Design Center -- and we invite you to share your experiences too!

Keeping designs fresh
Here's what Bruce says when asked about challenges in the graphic arts field :
      Keeping designs fresh without too much repetition.
      Making a silk purse out of a sow's ears when dealing with poor quality design or "nephew art" that a few of our clients provide us with.
* Unreasonable design deadlines.
* Unrealistic expectations of our sales staff.
Most difficult project?
      A large "spectacular" pylon sign we were doing for a large retail and entertainment center. The clients offered very little insights into what they wanted or liked.
      They did, however, express that the designs we did were not what they were looking for! LOL! Talk about frustrating! To make it worse, there were two partners involved that could not agree on where to go for lunch let alone what direction they wanted to take their project.
      We wound up doing four separate designs for this project. Each one of them was outstanding on it's own design merits. We spent over 80 hours on design time and creating animated gifs's for the presentations.
      The two partners ended up scrapping the joint project. That's life in the big city!
Do you like your job? Would you change anything to make it better?
      I have what I would consider a "dream job" in my field. I am employed by a firm who appreciates me and respects my abilities. I am paid a fair rate of compensation, decent medical insurance benefits, and liberal paid time off.
      The software and equipment we use daily is fairly up to date. The facility is nice and our department is provided a decent place to do our work.
      As far as changing anything, to ask for more would just be being greedy... :^) Seriously, other than the working a day or two at home per week, there is very little I would change about my job.
Who controls the creative? You or the boss?
      Typically I do my designing the way I want to. I am a seasoned professional. That is why my company hired me.
      I have spent 30+ years as a sign painter and designer. I have won awards in every major sign design contest and have been featured in SignCraft Magazine twice.
      This is not to say that the owner doesn't ever give me some kind of imput or critique on a project. However, he does not need to micromanage me and allows me a fair amount of latitude on the sign projects I design.
When you have complete control, what do you do?
      Other than a client sometimes requesting a certain theme, color, font, logo, etc, we have a pretty free reign to design what we feel is best for our client's needs. This is one of the reasons our clients seek us out. They trust us to what they need to have done.
We have a good reputation in our market for serving our clients needs. From the design portion to the fabrication to the final installation, our clients are good hands.
Average projects per week: 10-25 different projects not counting revisions.
Average layouts per job: Typically I do one, not counting revisions. Sometimes a client will kick a design back because it wasn't what they are looking for or the project's price tag was just too high.
      In dealing with the sales staff, I try to get a good feel of what the client is looking for or the image that they are trying to project.
      I also try to nail down just what kind of budget the client is willing to spent or a realistic figure that the salesperson is looking for. It is an uncomfortable moment when a client is looking at a design that they want very much but can not afford or it is out of their budget constraints.
      Listening closely and asking the right questions eliminates a lot of the grief that arises from miscommunication. Getting it done right the first time also keeps my time free to move on to the next project.
Overtime required: I work approximately 2-10 hours of overtime per week. We are exploring the possibility of me being able to do some of my work from home.
Most used software: Windows XP platform, Corel X3, PhotoPaint X3, CASmate Pro 6.52, Various "photoshop" filters
Bruce is a design professional from Ham Lake, MN, USA (?)

Getting jobs on time
Here's what Latoya says when asked about challenges in the graphic arts field :
      Well, getting client's jobs on time, making sure print jobs are fine before submitting it to clients, making sure clients really like my designs.
Most difficult project?
      Having to cut business cards myself.
Do you like your job? Would you change anything to make it better?
      Yes I love my job. I wouldn't change anything at all about my job.
Who controls the creative? You or the boss?
      I usually make the images the way I want because when it comes to using descriptive words in a design from the boss, I don't want to get into a situation where I don't understand it and do the wrong design. That is why I prefer to do the design myself.
When you have complete control, what do you do?
      I would make, thick-lined, graceful images.
Average projects per week: About 2.
Average layouts per job: I make about 5 layouts per design job so that my clients could easily pick which one they like.
Overtime required: I mostly work at home because I want to be able to save gas, so I do it all off-site. I do this all the time.
Most used software: Inkscape (alt. Illustrator), Scribus (alt. PageMaker, QuarkXpress), GIMP (alt.PhotoShop), FormDocs form software
Latoya is a self employed freelancer from Lehigh Acres, FL, usa (?)

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