The most difficult part of being a creative of any kind is idea generation. Why do you think there are so many copy-cats out there? There are several methods available to brainstorm.

Mind mapping has been around since the 70’s, it’s uses and attraction is snowballing. So what is it? And how does it apply to Graphic Design?

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A rookie mistake in the design world is working without a contract. I too, have fallen to the sorry plight of ultimately working for free with no promise of continued work or payment on the horizon. While it is easy to scold and reprimand, it is in fact difficult to approach a new client with a contract especially when you are just starting out professionally. Be confident in your abilities. The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is your job, and while others may see it as a hobby since it is artistic by nature it is ever important to become educated and to educate others on the business of design.

Head straight to the end of this article to find a downloadable blank graphic design contract.

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Providing a quote for graphic design services is one of the most difficult areas of the field to navigate. It can kind of be like going on a first date. Through working with a variety of clients, my best advice for contracting your services is do not jump in the water before you know how deep it is! By this I mean it is absolutely imperative before even agreeing to work on a piece that you know the entirety of the project. I have learned the hard way to never respond in the affirmative until you ask the right questions.

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Hey there. In the last article we discussed the role of receiving and understanding the creative brief — a vital part of the designer’s job. Once the document has been digested and the nettle grasped, one of the most fun parts of the creative process may begin — research and mind mapping. This is the stage where, empowered by a belief that anything is possible, the designer can delve fully into his subject, unleash his imagination and give full rein to his creativity without fear of being pulled up short by the client (—that might occur later!).

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The brief. That genesis of the creative process. All design jobs begin with a briefing from the client, usually in written form (the preferred option) though they can also be given verbally. It’s difficult to overstate how important the humble brief is to the design process. In short, no brief, no project! Breaking the topic down into key aspects over several articles, I’ll be taking you through the ins and outs of everything you need to know about the brief. Let’s start with…

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So you find yourself pitching for a job and have come up with an ingenious solution to a fiendishly tricky design conundrum, and all you want to do is get on the phone to the client and sing it to him from the bottom of your lungs. Slow down there pardner. To convince your client of the barnstorming excellence of your proposed solution, more often than not you’ll need to take him through things step-by-step in a presentation. Presentations are important to get right, and represent the ultimate test of your communication skills. Many a fine idea has been admonished or dismissed through poor presentation. Gulp down the words below to ensure this doesn’t happen to yours…

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At the same point each month, every month, an employed person receives a wage packet from his payroll department, and his his bank account is credited with his salary. Safe in this knowledge, he can plan his finances around this fixed point. For the intrepid freelancer things are a little different, for he must send out invoices to his clients, and then wait to be paid. So far so straightforward, but there are several factors to consider with regard to invoicing, which I’ll be taking you through below. After all, getting paid on time is what keeps us all afloat, and what freelance designer doesn’t desire that?

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They come in all shapes and sizes, from all different professional backgrounds, and we rely on them to pay our fees. A large portion of the freelancer’s life is spent looking for them, bagging them, and spending a considerable amount of our daily slog trying to work out what they want. I’m speaking of course about clients, and this article is all about working with them…

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This week’s article on professional design practice concerns project planning. Good, thoughtful project planning can be indispensable to the smooth running of your professional life as a freelancer. By running your business along well-oiled, well-organised lines you’ll be able to wring the most amount of time out of your days, maximise your profits, avoid mislaying things and generally inject some calm into your busy life. A modicum of planning, far from acting as a restraint on creativity, can in fact free us to spend more time on the creative process. It should therefore be an integral part of all our working lives. Follow the guides below, or a life of professional chaos awaits!

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In the first of a series of lessons entitled Professional Practice, we have sourced one of todays hottest working English based freelance designers to give you the leg up on building yourself a truly professional Graphic Design practice. Look out for the following in the new series; Freelance Fee Structures & How to Quote, Project Planning (Breaking Jobs Into Milestones), Dealing with Clients, Charging & Invoicing, Law in Design Practice, The Portfolio, A Conclusion of Sorts. Being Freelance. Benefits & Pitfalls.

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This is inspiring article has been written by graphic design student Jacob Cass. Jacob Cass is a 21-year-old designer from Newcastle, Australia, who freelances under his business Just Creative Design, which also doubles as a popular design blog. Jacob’s talent has brought him many awards and his work has been published in books worldwide.

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