What makes a good freelance graphic designer?
There are a number of common traits shared by exceptional graphic designers:
Problem solving ability
It's easy to think of graphic design as 'making things look pretty'. But a great graphic designer does more than simply set colour schemes and typography. A great graphic designer solves problems. Here are some examples:
"Design me a logo"
Actually means, "create me a simple, memorable representation of my business my customers will understand".
"Make my event poster look nice"
Actually means, "create an advert for my event that's going to stand out on a very busy high-street, and persuade people to come".
"Fix my facebook advertising banner"
Actually means, "Make my promotional message stand out and encourage people to click, whilst complying with Facebook's advertising standards".
You see, what seems to be a simple task of applying some colours and some fonts, are much more complex problems to solve.
Knowledge and experiences
Whether a good designer is born or bred is debatable. Having 'an eye for design' is one thing, but any great designer will tell you that choosing colour palettes, typography and composition is as much a learned skill as an inherited one.
A good graphic designer's experiences are arguably more valuable than their grasp of design theory. For example, if you are an events company needing to design a promotional email, a graphic designer's experiences of creating emails and flyers for successful events is more valuable to you than their knowledge of the rule of thirds.
A healthy dislike of rules and convention
The very best graphic designers know when to follow the rules and when to break out into something new. This is one of the greatest assets a freelance graphic designer can bring to your project.
If you look at any industry and pick three like-for-like competitors, you'll notice very quickly there are similarities. This is a result of the competitors 'borrowing' ideas or elements they like from each. After a while, the competitors are so similar, no one stands out.
Hiring a freelance graphic designer is the best way to break the vicious, "this is what our industry expects", cycle. A good graphic designer will help you break the old rules and introduce something fresh.
Communicates with clarity
It may be surprising but the most important part of the creative process is the communication at the start. Asking the right questions and expressing a concept or direction as a solution is the key to starting any successful graphic design project. With the wrong input, getting the output right on the first attempt is difficult.
A good freelancer graphic designer will ask lots of questions, gathering as much about you, your business and your industry as possible. They will then discuss their proposed solution with you. As you can appreciate, communicating effectively at this stage is crucial - even the best idea will fail to get the go-ahead if it's pitched in the wrong manner.
Mastery of creative tools
This final trait may seem obvious. Of course, a graphic designer should be able to produce a finished output. However, there is a difference between being able to use a tool and mastering it. For example, resizing a photo in Photoshop is a very basic task but creating 3D objects and automating processes in Photoshop requires expert level knowledge.
It is important when hiring a freelance graphic designer to ensure they have the required level of understanding of the tools needed for your project. You will benefit from a higher standard of output, and it is always most cost-effective to hire an expert even if it means paying a slightly higher hourly rate.