Design insights & tutorials.

15 Awful Mistakes Made by Designers in the Music & Apparel Industry – 1 of 3

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Fail Kid

Designers in the music and apparel industry are some of the most talented designers around. I’m willing to bet there isn’t a sector of graphic design that allows more creativity and more artistic freedom. Despite the amazing talent and style, the “scene” suffers from a few fatal flaws that need to be remedied. If you’re a designer and your client base consists mostly of bands and clothing companies (myself included) then you need to read this.

I’ve interviewed nine of the premier designers in the music and apparel industry. Each designer had lots to say about the subject and spoke from their own experiences as well as what they observe in the design community. I’ve compiled a list of 15 mistakes and summarized the key points for each. I decided to split this into 3 posts because there is just so much information to take in. Parts 2 and 3 will be available soon.

Designers who offered their opinions to this article.

Rob Dobi Dan Mumford Derek Deal
Jimiyo Geoff May Justin Ryan
Laurie Shipley AJ Dimarucot Jimmy Heartcore

1. Not Charging Enough

This topic rears its ugly head on internet message boards all the time. Experienced designers are upset when they’re trying to earn a living doing what they love while “kids in their mom’s basement” are doing it for free and taking their clients. Anyone can find a copy of Photoshop and start imitating the trends and offer their work to their favorite bands for free. Derek Deal put it nicely:

People get into this industry because of their connection to the music, and tend to do a lot of favors to be affiliated with the bands that inspire them. – Derek Deal

Many of the artists I interviewed charged next to nothing starting out. It’s how they built their portfolio. But they were smart enough to raise their rates as demand increased.

At first, I believe it’s okay to charge a little lower than expected just to get your feet wet, but when you become a little more established, don’t fear raising your prices. Then again, don’t gouge them either. – Chris Sandlin

Design is not just a throwaway commodity

I know some very talented designers that complain they can’t pay their bills or quit working a second job. I later find out they’re charging $50-100 for a t-shirt design that takes them 12 hours to complete. They’re sad and depressed and are struggling. Being a designer does not mean you aren’t allowed to make a good living.

You want to be the “go to guy” for labels and merchandise companies so you think charging next to nothing for your work is the way to become that guy. You couldn’t be further from the truth. – Geoff May

It confuses clients when designers do not understand pricing and fail to charge what they’re worth. It furthers the perception that design is just a “throwaway commodity.” Clients will think that every designer should be charging that low.

It devalues your work. When you give your work a price, it sends a message to the client about how much value they’re getting.

Large companies/labels and bands know this. If you quote them at 10% of what they were expecting, they may think the quality won’t be good and go with someone else. If you don’t buy this, just look at those freelance sites where people post jobs and artists/coders all over the world bid on the project. More often than not, the middle of the road or high price gets picked over the low end price. – Justin Ryan

Phantom Planet designSome blame can be put on the client. for bullying designers into lowering their prices. They threaten them by giving the job to someone else. They will also try to lure you in with promises of “exposure” which I will cover in Part 2.

Designers need to be firm in their pricing and not be afraid to lose jobs because of price. I know I fall victim to this from time to time. I know a particular client might not have money, but I’ll really want the job. Sometimes I’ll get the job and I will create something I’m proud of. But at the end of the day my bills aren’t paid.

I used to believe that to be able to get projects I should lower my prices. That hurts you a lot because you become valuable to a client only because you have the lowest price. With confidence and a better folio, I’ve set a minimum price for design work and let go of clients who can’t go bare minimum. This weeds out the ‘price-sensitive’ client. The good clients come back to me and say “we’d rather pay you your price because you do quality work.” – AJ Dimarucot

That said, it’s becoming harder and harder for a designer to support himself (let alone a family). When tee companies are charging over $100 for a t-shirt it’s only fair for designers to start charging what they’re worth. How do you know what to charge? Well, Bill already wrote a handy guide for designers about pricing. I suggest you give that a read.

There is always an exception to the rule. Doing work for free or cheap for something you strongly believe or for a good cause is acceptable. I do it all the time. Working for charity or a music festival that I feel passionate about is OK with me. Sometimes it allows you to do something more bold or daring because a client’s wallet isn’t associated with it. It allows me to spend time experimenting – something clients often do not have a budget for.

2. Ignoring Typography

Adam Law, Go Media’s own typography purist, put it best:

Typography is not something to be slapped onto a design at the end of the design process. The typography is just as important as the imagery, if not more, and should receive equal consideration from the beginning of the process. The goal of any good design is to communicate a message, and I find it disheartening when well executed imagery is ruined by a lack luster typographic treatment that seems completely disparate from the communicated idea. – Adam Law

Type is not an afterthought

You’ll be surprised at how much this happens. Artists often consider type to be an afterthought to a design. My fellow animation students in college suffered from the same problem. You’ve probably seen this – a brilliantly executed drawing or animation combined with awful type (maybe with an emboss or amateurish glow or drop shadow).

Browsing through Emptees, I see this comment A LOT: “Love the drawing, hate the type.” And also “Great design, but the type looks like an afterthought.”

Examples of “afterthought” typography

I’m no world class typographer, but I know how to place a bit of type or make something look cohesive, and I really hate when I open up a booklet that has great cover artwork, to find some horribly placed quickly done last minute layout, a lot of the time i think its really thought of as unimportant, and a last minute addition. – Dan Mumford

Watch your edges! Putting type too close to edges happens to be something Bill talks about in his discussion on spacing in his 7 Rules to Becoming a Master Designer Series.

Dan Mumford adds:

Don’t put type too close to the edge, it makes work look really amateurish. Of course, I’ve had work printed where I left a good 1cm from the bleed and the pressing plant cropped it so badly that the type only just made it, so keep that in mind with large bodies of text. – Dan Mumford

3. Unprofessional Behavior

Lack of maturity in the design community is a big problem today. I think it’s mostly because the Internet makes it easy for a 15 year old to compete with real pros like Ray Frenden. I think Ray is one of the most professional and mature designers I’ve ever come across. I wish I could have included his expertise in this article, but he wasn’t able to get back to me in time.

Maturity goes a long way.

But anyway, what constitutes unprofessional behavior?

  • How you write in emails (caps lock, spelling, grammar, etc)
  • How you speak on the phone (nervous, mumbling, etc)
  • How you act in online forums (trolling, name-calling, etc.)
  • How you treat other designers (patronizing, being disrespectful)
  • Bad-mouthing clients in public forums

Regardless of if you are the artist or client, projecting professionalism during the first few communications with each other is important. “Yeah yo, I’d be down to throw down fo ya. Wat you need?” is unacceptable. – Jimiyo

From my experience with places like Emptees and other design forums, there are certain individuals that stand out. There are those who give thoughtful insights and treat others with respect and there are those who act like children, have poor grammar, and call names. The rest kind of blend in and go unnoticed.

One of the sad realities in this business is that sometimes you are going to make something for a client, and absolutely fall in love with it, only for them to straight up not like it. Don’t let it make you bitter towards them. Most clients can sense this and will not stand for it. It’s kind of like being a chef. Not everyone is going to like your signature dish. – Justin Ryan

4. Over Promising

If you can't do it just say so.

A common mistake made by designers is over promising. I have done it before. In fact, we ended up losing a lot of money on a project because we over promised and couldn’t deliver on time. We took a major cut in our income because of it and we are still recovering months later.

But we’ve all been there. A new record label contacts you and needs three designs by the end of the day. Out of fear of losing the job, a designer will likely tell the label they will do it no problem (and probably without getting a deposit first, a double fail).

Geoff May has been in this situation before. He tells us that it’s a bad situation to be in for two reasons:

1. There’s no way you’re doing your best work. Period. If you’re cranking out a design in an hour you’re either the most prolific designer/artist in history or you’re not doing your best work. Sure, sparks of creativity hit us all from time to time and we’re able to make something amazing in a short amount of time. The odds of lightning striking three times on the same project are very slim. And by “slim” I mean “impossible”.

2. You are setting yourself up for failure and creating bad blood between you and the client. What happens when the deadline approaches and you’ve only just started the second tee? The record label is going to be curious as to why you told them it was no problem and now that the deadline has hit, here you are with not even half the job done. You think they’re calling you for their next project? Guess again. – Geoff May

Creating a false sense of security for the client is a no-no. Just be direct and straight forward. If it’s not possible, tell them! They will respect you for your honesty. To be honest, I would try to LOWER the client’s expectations. In fact, that’s a proven tactic to tricking your clients into happiness.

Words to live by: Under promise and over deliver. ALWAYS. – Geoff May

5. Not understanding apparel production

Vietnam Werewolf teeDesigners doing band merch or designing for upstart clothing companies SHOULD have a modest understanding of how apparel production works. When I designed my first shirt in 2004, nobody told me how it was to be done. In fact, the clothing company that hired me didn’t know either. All he knew was he wanted some “sick” t-shirts to sell.

Just from experience, I learned what was expected of me. I worked with a variety of apparel printers and they all want files different ways.

Jimmy Breen (aka Jimmy Heartcore) prints all his own shirts and also prints a lot of merch for Fueled by Ramen records. He has this to say:

Over the past several years of running my own print operation, I’ve encountered loads of artwork from designers that is horribly not ready for print. Sure, in most cases I can correct any issues – as a printer should be able to do. However, sometimes there’s just too much to fix.

If you’re giving artwork to your client that is for apparel production, and the artwork sucks – your client will end up getting charged more money from the printer for separations, corrections, etc. Do yourself and your client a favor. Learn the basics of apparel printing!

Each color in your design is going to have a separate screen for printing. This means that you want to keep the number of colors in your design as low as possible.

If you’re using Illustrator to design in, make sure all of your colors are uniform. Make sure the yellows are the same yellow. The black is black. Use the Pantone Solid Coated color book from your swatches library to select your colors. This makes printing directly from your file much easier.

If you’re using Photoshop to design, take care to put each color on it’s own layer while you’re designing. It keeps the printer from having to separate colors later on, and ensures that little details aren’t lost. Sometimes when separating out colors from a flattened image, Photoshop won’t register really small marks in a file and they end up getting left out. Label all of your layers by color.

Though there is a ton of information online, youtube is a great place to search for screen printing information. 95% of the people in the apparel industry use this method for transferring your design to a garment. Do some research!

I admit, I’ve designed shirts that people say are impossible to print. Stuff that goes over seams and uses too many colors. I am a firm believer that the designer doesn’t NEED to be the color separator as well. But people will disagree with me. Color separators get paid to do a job, and I will let them do what they do best.

I don’t want to do a shoddy job separating colors when the printer employs someone who can do this every day. I always find it annoying when some clients are able to print a flawless shirt using just a flattened JPG and other clients are confused and tell me their printer doesn’t know how to separate colors. Find a new printer!

Ignorance is only your fault

But being ignorant to apparel production is a mistake. If I can recommend a printer to my client that I work well with, it is not an issue. We work as a team. But if I am misinformed and have no resources to help a client get their shirt printed, then I am probably not going to get that client to come back to me.

To sum things up, young designers need to stop complaining about getting taken advantage of by clients and be firm in their prices. They need to quit acting like babies and be professional. You don’t have to be the cheapest and you don’t have to be an asshole to be successful. You just need to be good and reliable. And work on your typography and how it can be integrated more into the piece rather than stuck on at the end.

Feel free to discuss in the comments. I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.

10 more mistakes coming soon… A lot more controversial issues coming up in the next installment. Just give me awhile to get it edited and looking good.

Continue Reading Part 2

You might want to sign up for an email subscription to be notified when part 3 comes out.

  • threads not dead book

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    If you enjoyed this post, you'll love Thread's Not Dead written by Go Media's own Jeff Finley! Start your own clothing company and become the next Mark Ecko, Obey, or Johnny Cupcakes! Learn how to dominate the graphic tee business and become the next legendary t-shirt designer. Live the dream!

About the Author, Jeff Finley

I'm a partner at Go Media, a Cleveland web design and development firm. We also specialize in print design and branding. I started Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and wrote the book Thread's Not Dead, teaching artists and designers how to start a clothing company. In my spare time, I write songs and play drums in Campfire Conspiracy. I'm a happy husband and an aspiring b-boy and lucid dreamer.
Discover More by Jeff Finley

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Corbin

    Probably now the best post you’ve published on this site. I will defiantly be sending this to a few people. Cant wait for the rest.

    -CB

  • Shawn

    Teriffic post! :)

  • Dominik23

    Great Post! I work with severel bands from my area and this post seems to cover my interests. I’m also interestet in other media / design tips that has to do with the music industry, like CD Covers, Band Websites or such things. Looking forward to the next parts!

  • http://solamstutz.carbonmade.com solamstutz

    Kudos on this Jeff. I really like the fact that there were multiple insights by different designers (all of whom I respect in the industry). This was a very insightful article, and hopefully those younger designers will take it to heart. I sure wish I had something like this to refer to when I was just starting out. I’ve probably made all of those mistakes along the way…

  • http://solamstutz.carbonmade.com solamstutz

    Kudos on this Jeff. I really like the fact that there were multiple insights by different designers (all of whom I respect in the industry). This was a very insightful article, and hopefully those younger designers will take it to heart. I sure wish I had something like this to refer to when I was just starting out. I’ve probably made all of those mistakes along the way…

  • http://solamstutz.carbonmade.com solamstutz

    Kudos on this Jeff. I really like the fact that there were multiple insights by different designers (all of whom I respect in the industry). This was a very insightful article, and hopefully those younger designers will take it to heart. I sure wish I had something like this to refer to when I was just starting out. I’ve probably made all of those mistakes along the way…

  • http://www.gomedia.us adam

    Jeff this article is so informative, well put together & fun to read. I’m definitely going to give this more than one read. Can’t wait for parts 2 & 3!

  • http://www.gomedia.us adam

    Jeff this article is so informative, well put together & fun to read. I’m definitely going to give this more than one read. Can’t wait for parts 2 & 3!

  • http://www.gomedia.us adam

    Jeff this article is so informative, well put together & fun to read. I’m definitely going to give this more than one read. Can’t wait for parts 2 & 3!

  • http://www.natemaggio.com Nate

    Great information here, as usual. I love they way you formatted the articles, it was super easy to parse and didn’t feel overwhelming. I look forward to 2 and 3.

  • http://www.natemaggio.com Nate

    Great information here, as usual. I love they way you formatted the articles, it was super easy to parse and didn’t feel overwhelming. I look forward to 2 and 3.

  • http://www.natemaggio.com Nate

    Great information here, as usual. I love they way you formatted the articles, it was super easy to parse and didn’t feel overwhelming. I look forward to 2 and 3.

  • http://www.gomedia.us cmgc!

    This post is formatted to perfection. Props from downstairs… I’ll see you next time I venture to the kitchen.

  • http://www.gomedia.us cmgc!

    This post is formatted to perfection. Props from downstairs… I’ll see you next time I venture to the kitchen.

  • http://www.gomedia.us cmgc!

    This post is formatted to perfection. Props from downstairs… I’ll see you next time I venture to the kitchen.

  • http://www.unikink.com UnikInk.com

    Awesome post. I still want to know how that Bold is Beautiful design was separated and printed!!!!

  • http://www.unikink.com UnikInk.com

    Awesome post. I still want to know how that Bold is Beautiful design was separated and printed!!!!

  • http://www.unikink.com UnikInk.com

    Awesome post. I still want to know how that Bold is Beautiful design was separated and printed!!!!

  • Chad

    @unikink.com

    If you go back to the earlier post announcing the printing of the Bold is Beautiful design, there is a link to a flickr spread showing the process.

    -Chad

  • Chad

    @unikink.com

    If you go back to the earlier post announcing the printing of the Bold is Beautiful design, there is a link to a flickr spread showing the process.

    -Chad

  • Chad

    @unikink.com

    If you go back to the earlier post announcing the printing of the Bold is Beautiful design, there is a link to a flickr spread showing the process.

    -Chad

  • Adam Ake

    Well done Jeff. I look forward to the next one. I’m checking the list as I go of all the times I’ve made these errors haha.

  • Adam Ake

    Well done Jeff. I look forward to the next one. I’m checking the list as I go of all the times I’ve made these errors haha.

  • Adam Ake

    Well done Jeff. I look forward to the next one. I’m checking the list as I go of all the times I’ve made these errors haha.

  • http://www.robotmojo.com RobotMojo

    Yes, this was an awesome post filled with lots of vague ideas i had floating around in my head. Really really dig the inclusion of artist’s testimonies.

  • http://www.robotmojo.com RobotMojo

    Yes, this was an awesome post filled with lots of vague ideas i had floating around in my head. Really really dig the inclusion of artist’s testimonies.

  • http://www.robotmojo.com RobotMojo

    Yes, this was an awesome post filled with lots of vague ideas i had floating around in my head. Really really dig the inclusion of artist’s testimonies.

  • socoduce

    Well done.

  • socoduce

    Well done.

  • socoduce

    Well done.

  • http://justinryan.org Justin Ryan

    Nice job on the editing, Jeff! I’m sure you had a TON of information to sort through, as I know I was pretty wordy in my responses, so I’m sure others were, too.

  • http://justinryan.org Justin Ryan

    Nice job on the editing, Jeff! I’m sure you had a TON of information to sort through, as I know I was pretty wordy in my responses, so I’m sure others were, too.

  • http://justinryan.org Justin Ryan

    Nice job on the editing, Jeff! I’m sure you had a TON of information to sort through, as I know I was pretty wordy in my responses, so I’m sure others were, too.

  • ChequeredManiac

    Thank you.

    This has really given me a lot to think about as far as working is concerned. Some of the points mentioned were encouragin as I felt that I was on the right path. Typography for example.

    I am 17 so I fall under the young, if not very young, designer catagory so alot of what you said hit home quite hard and I’m having to step back and really re-think pricing and not understanding apperal enough.

    I really just want to say that I really appreciate all the help you provide for all of us and ,in all seriousness, I firmly believe that reading this has changed me as a designer.

    Thank you.

    Kilian McMahon

  • Corbin

    Probably now the best post you’ve published on this site. I will defiantly be sending this to a few people. Cant wait for the rest.

    -CB

  • Corbin

    Probably now the best post you’ve published on this site. I will defiantly be sending this to a few people. Cant wait for the rest.

    -CB

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    I really dig how you laid this article out. It’s a lot of content but it flows very nicely.

    I’m just as excited as everyone else for parts 2 and 3.

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    I really dig how you laid this article out. It’s a lot of content but it flows very nicely.

    I’m just as excited as everyone else for parts 2 and 3.

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    I really dig how you laid this article out. It’s a lot of content but it flows very nicely.

    I’m just as excited as everyone else for parts 2 and 3.

  • Henry Quiara

    Very nice! Too many people are misinformed about multiple topics on both sides, client and designers alike. Great post!

  • Shawn

    Teriffic post! :)

  • Shawn

    Teriffic post! :)

  • Dominik23

    Great Post! I work with severel bands from my area and this post seems to cover my interests. I’m also interestet in other media / design tips that has to do with the music industry, like CD Covers, Band Websites or such things. Looking forward to the next parts!

  • Dominik23

    Great Post! I work with severel bands from my area and this post seems to cover my interests. I’m also interestet in other media / design tips that has to do with the music industry, like CD Covers, Band Websites or such things. Looking forward to the next parts!

  • Ana

    This is extremely helpful advice. Unfortunately, the first mistake is the one that I feel I’m committing at the moment, but I’m also just starting out and an unknown.

    Speaking of typography, I’m really digging how for each section you put a general summary into a black box, and set a small arrow into the side, pointing to a concise summary set in a larger and serifed font. Very clean, nicely designed detail; especially that splash of yellow. Also an example that being able to handle type well does not necessarily mean you have to manipulate it point-by-point.

  • http://www.dooms-day-device.com Puke

    Awesome advice. As a hobbiest in design I love finding stuff like this. Can’t wait to read part two.

  • http://www.dooms-day-device.com Puke

    Awesome advice. As a hobbiest in design I love finding stuff like this. Can’t wait to read part two.

  • http://www.dooms-day-device.com Puke

    Awesome advice. As a hobbiest in design I love finding stuff like this. Can’t wait to read part two.

  • Angela Woodman

    Great article!! Solid input from Geoff May and the rest of the designers. They should hand this out to every beginning designer or even experienced ones, fantastic resource.

  • Angela Woodman

    Great article!! Solid input from Geoff May and the rest of the designers. They should hand this out to every beginning designer or even experienced ones, fantastic resource.

  • http://www.lunchboxbrain.com lunchboxbrain

    very insightful post. keep up the good work!

  • http://www.lunchboxbrain.com lunchboxbrain

    very insightful post. keep up the good work!

  • Angela Woodman

    Great article!! Solid input from Geoff May and the rest of the designers. They should hand this out to every beginning designer or even experienced ones, fantastic resource.

  • http://www.lunchboxbrain.com lunchboxbrain

    very insightful post. keep up the good work!

  • http://behance.net/automatic_ab automatic_ab

    The insight in this article is priceless, literally and figuratively. This is the kind of information that one could probably find a $40 – $50 textbook or magazine on design principles. Thank you for taking the time to provide us all with such invaluable information. I’m sure I speak for many when I say that it is greatly appreciated.

  • http://behance.net/automatic_ab automatic_ab

    The insight in this article is priceless, literally and figuratively. This is the kind of information that one could probably find a $40 – $50 textbook or magazine on design principles. Thank you for taking the time to provide us all with such invaluable information. I’m sure I speak for many when I say that it is greatly appreciated.

  • http://behance.net/automatic_ab automatic_ab

    The insight in this article is priceless, literally and figuratively. This is the kind of information that one could probably find a $40 – $50 textbook or magazine on design principles. Thank you for taking the time to provide us all with such invaluable information. I’m sure I speak for many when I say that it is greatly appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    This is definitely one of the most helpful posts from GoMedia I’ve seen!

  • Anonymous

    This is definitely one of the most helpful posts from GoMedia I’ve seen!

  • Tiffany

    This is definitely one of the most helpful posts from GoMedia I’ve seen!

  • Anonymous

    PS: I wish would have read this two years ago!

  • Anonymous

    PS: I wish would have read this two years ago!

  • Tiffany

    PS: I wish would have read this two years ago!

  • Chantwan

    Wow, a very informative skill assessment check. As an artist/illustrator/graphic designer or whatever the proper label; I love the art I work on as much as observing the artistic works of others so I actually strive to create my best design for all in need. When I work on a painting people look upon it with true value, clients in need of apparel designs remind me of the particular season of the design.
    After a design is in the final stage, I do find it hard to give up the artwork that I agreed to provide.
    Just a rant.
    Thanks Jeff.

  • Chantwan

    Wow, a very informative skill assessment check. As an artist/illustrator/graphic designer or whatever the proper label; I love the art I work on as much as observing the artistic works of others so I actually strive to create my best design for all in need. When I work on a painting people look upon it with true value, clients in need of apparel designs remind me of the particular season of the design.
    After a design is in the final stage, I do find it hard to give up the artwork that I agreed to provide.
    Just a rant.
    Thanks Jeff.

  • Chantwan

    Wow, a very informative skill assessment check. As an artist/illustrator/graphic designer or whatever the proper label; I love the art I work on as much as observing the artistic works of others so I actually strive to create my best design for all in need. When I work on a painting people look upon it with true value, clients in need of apparel designs remind me of the particular season of the design.
    After a design is in the final stage, I do find it hard to give up the artwork that I agreed to provide.
    Just a rant.
    Thanks Jeff.

  • Marc Fossaa

    PERFECTLY SAID, owning a screen printing company myself i get stuck with people trying to get me to eat the cost of my design work and redrawing other artists creations to get ready for printing…..IF YOU DO ARTWORK FOR APPAREL AND HAVE NEVER BEEN TO A SCREEN PRINTING SHOP, GO TO YOU LOCAL SCREEN PRINTER AND ASK TO BE SHOWN THE PROCESS, IF THEY WONT GO ON YOU TUBE AND SEARCH SCREEN PRINTING, IT WILL MAKE YOUR DESIGN THAT MUCH BETTER IF YOU HAVE SOME CONCEPT OF HOW SCREEN PRINTING WORKS

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Thanks for all the comments folks. I can’t wait to post parts 2 and 3 for you!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Thanks for all the comments folks. I can’t wait to post parts 2 and 3 for you!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Thanks for all the comments folks. I can’t wait to post parts 2 and 3 for you!

  • Shawn

    Yeah, Jeff – great job. Kudos!
    This is really useful info and not easy to come by for free, as stated above.
    It takes most people awhile to acquire some of this knowledge,
    so be aware, young designers, that you’re getting a pretty handy freebie here.
    I deal with SO many people on a day-to-day basis that have NO idea of what kind of effort goes into graphics for the apparel industry.
    Very excited to see parts 2 and 3 – everyone could definitely use a good refresher once in awhile.

  • ChequeredManiac

    Thank you.

    This has really given me a lot to think about as far as working is concerned. Some of the points mentioned were encouragin as I felt that I was on the right path. Typography for example.

    I am 17 so I fall under the young, if not very young, designer catagory so alot of what you said hit home quite hard and I’m having to step back and really re-think pricing and not understanding apperal enough.

    I really just want to say that I really appreciate all the help you provide for all of us and ,in all seriousness, I firmly believe that reading this has changed me as a designer.

    Thank you.

    Kilian McMahon

  • ChequeredManiac

    Thank you.

    This has really given me a lot to think about as far as working is concerned. Some of the points mentioned were encouragin as I felt that I was on the right path. Typography for example.

    I am 17 so I fall under the young, if not very young, designer catagory so alot of what you said hit home quite hard and I’m having to step back and really re-think pricing and not understanding apperal enough.

    I really just want to say that I really appreciate all the help you provide for all of us and ,in all seriousness, I firmly believe that reading this has changed me as a designer.

    Thank you.

    Kilian McMahon

  • Henry Quiara

    Very nice! Too many people are misinformed about multiple topics on both sides, client and designers alike. Great post!

  • Henry Quiara

    Very nice! Too many people are misinformed about multiple topics on both sides, client and designers alike. Great post!

  • Ana

    This is extremely helpful advice. Unfortunately, the first mistake is the one that I feel I’m committing at the moment, but I’m also just starting out and an unknown.

    Speaking of typography, I’m really digging how for each section you put a general summary into a black box, and set a small arrow into the side, pointing to a concise summary set in a larger and serifed font. Very clean, nicely designed detail; especially that splash of yellow. Also an example that being able to handle type well does not necessarily mean you have to manipulate it point-by-point.

  • Ana

    This is extremely helpful advice. Unfortunately, the first mistake is the one that I feel I’m committing at the moment, but I’m also just starting out and an unknown.

    Speaking of typography, I’m really digging how for each section you put a general summary into a black box, and set a small arrow into the side, pointing to a concise summary set in a larger and serifed font. Very clean, nicely designed detail; especially that splash of yellow. Also an example that being able to handle type well does not necessarily mean you have to manipulate it point-by-point.

  • brian

    I started charging $48/hr, now I charge 1 billion/hr, and I’m rich.

  • brian

    I started charging $48/hr, now I charge 1 billion/hr, and I’m rich.

  • brian

    I started charging $48/hr, now I charge 1 billion/hr, and I’m rich.

  • Marc Fossaa

    PERFECTLY SAID, owning a screen printing company myself i get stuck with people trying to get me to eat the cost of my design work and redrawing other artists creations to get ready for printing…..IF YOU DO ARTWORK FOR APPAREL AND HAVE NEVER BEEN TO A SCREEN PRINTING SHOP, GO TO YOU LOCAL SCREEN PRINTER AND ASK TO BE SHOWN THE PROCESS, IF THEY WONT GO ON YOU TUBE AND SEARCH SCREEN PRINTING, IT WILL MAKE YOUR DESIGN THAT MUCH BETTER IF YOU HAVE SOME CONCEPT OF HOW SCREEN PRINTING WORKS

  • Marc Fossaa

    PERFECTLY SAID, owning a screen printing company myself i get stuck with people trying to get me to eat the cost of my design work and redrawing other artists creations to get ready for printing…..IF YOU DO ARTWORK FOR APPAREL AND HAVE NEVER BEEN TO A SCREEN PRINTING SHOP, GO TO YOU LOCAL SCREEN PRINTER AND ASK TO BE SHOWN THE PROCESS, IF THEY WONT GO ON YOU TUBE AND SEARCH SCREEN PRINTING, IT WILL MAKE YOUR DESIGN THAT MUCH BETTER IF YOU HAVE SOME CONCEPT OF HOW SCREEN PRINTING WORKS

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    @ brian. Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    @ brian. Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    @ brian. Keep up the good work!

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  • gio

    great article! :)

    i also learned a lot. can’t wait for the 2nd and 3rd one.

    good job!

  • gio

    great article! :)

    i also learned a lot. can’t wait for the 2nd and 3rd one.

    good job!

  • gio

    great article! :)

    i also learned a lot. can’t wait for the 2nd and 3rd one.

    good job!

  • http://www.katyaguseva.com Katya

    bookmarked. A must read.

  • http://www.katyaguseva.com Katya

    bookmarked. A must read.

  • http://www.katyaguseva.com Katya

    bookmarked. A must read.

  • Shawn

    Yeah, Jeff – great job. Kudos!
    This is really useful info and not easy to come by for free, as stated above.
    It takes most people awhile to acquire some of this knowledge,
    so be aware, young designers, that you’re getting a pretty handy freebie here.
    I deal with SO many people on a day-to-day basis that have NO idea of what kind of effort goes into graphics for the apparel industry.
    Very excited to see parts 2 and 3 – everyone could definitely use a good refresher once in awhile.

  • Shawn

    Yeah, Jeff – great job. Kudos!
    This is really useful info and not easy to come by for free, as stated above.
    It takes most people awhile to acquire some of this knowledge,
    so be aware, young designers, that you’re getting a pretty handy freebie here.
    I deal with SO many people on a day-to-day basis that have NO idea of what kind of effort goes into graphics for the apparel industry.
    Very excited to see parts 2 and 3 – everyone could definitely use a good refresher once in awhile.

  • http://www.colorburned.com Grant Friedman

    Great article!

  • http://www.colorburned.com Grant Friedman

    Great article!

  • http://www.colorburned.com Grant Friedman

    Great article!

  • http://frenden.com Ray Frenden

    Sorry to miss out! This turned out to be a swell consolidation of unique perspectives, tried and true, er, truisms, and helpful links. I’ll get you next time, Finley! (Meaning, next time, I hope my inbox doesn’t explode, har.)

  • http://frenden.com Ray Frenden

    Sorry to miss out! This turned out to be a swell consolidation of unique perspectives, tried and true, er, truisms, and helpful links. I’ll get you next time, Finley! (Meaning, next time, I hope my inbox doesn’t explode, har.)

  • http://frenden.com Ray Frenden

    Sorry to miss out! This turned out to be a swell consolidation of unique perspectives, tried and true, er, truisms, and helpful links. I’ll get you next time, Finley! (Meaning, next time, I hope my inbox doesn’t explode, har.)

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  • http://designfeedr.com/ Youri

    Gomediazine is hereby bookmarked;)

  • http://designfeedr.com/ Youri

    Gomediazine is hereby bookmarked;)

  • http://designfeedr.com/ Youri

    Gomediazine is hereby bookmarked;)

  • John MacMenamin

    Very well written and amazing layout you guys!
    I will be back.
    Floated.

  • Jackson

    You know what turns me off? Using ‘loose’ when you mean ‘lose.’ Get a dictionary and learn the difference.

  • Jackson

    You know what turns me off? Using ‘loose’ when you mean ‘lose.’ Get a dictionary and learn the difference.

  • Jackson

    You know what turns me off? Using ‘loose’ when you mean ‘lose.’ Get a dictionary and learn the difference.

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  • Rick

    Your first point is really accurate and you can see a larger scale example in the fact that Steve and Barry’s has filed for bankruptcy. Apparently, $8 t-shirts didn’t work out so well.

    Excellent article.

  • http://www.WarGraphicArts.com William A. Rodriguez

    I think this post really sums up some of the aspects of the graphic design industry. I have been working in this field for over five years, slowly learning everything from the screen printing process to advanced web development and I feel that being a freelance artist you must learn everything you can about the fields you are interested in working in.

    I agree that most new designers don’t take into account the printing processes, not only screen printing but also the various other printings processes also, and this is necessary in order for us to succeed in our industry.

    I try to learn something new everyday I am here, developing my skills in every project I agree to work on or on those personal projects that are just for fun.

  • http://www.WarGraphicArts.com William A. Rodriguez

    I think this post really sums up some of the aspects of the graphic design industry. I have been working in this field for over five years, slowly learning everything from the screen printing process to advanced web development and I feel that being a freelance artist you must learn everything you can about the fields you are interested in working in.

    I agree that most new designers don’t take into account the printing processes, not only screen printing but also the various other printings processes also, and this is necessary in order for us to succeed in our industry.

    I try to learn something new everyday I am here, developing my skills in every project I agree to work on or on those personal projects that are just for fun.

  • http://www.WarGraphicArts.com William A. Rodriguez

    I think this post really sums up some of the aspects of the graphic design industry. I have been working in this field for over five years, slowly learning everything from the screen printing process to advanced web development and I feel that being a freelance artist you must learn everything you can about the fields you are interested in working in.

    I agree that most new designers don’t take into account the printing processes, not only screen printing but also the various other printings processes also, and this is necessary in order for us to succeed in our industry.

    I try to learn something new everyday I am here, developing my skills in every project I agree to work on or on those personal projects that are just for fun.

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  • http://www.tshirt-factory.ro Tshirtfactory

    Indeed a great post.And i have to recognize, that myself i did some of those mistakes over the years.But who didn’t

  • http://www.tshirt-factory.ro Tshirtfactory

    Indeed a great post.And i have to recognize, that myself i did some of those mistakes over the years.But who didn’t

  • http://www.tshirt-factory.ro Tshirtfactory

    Indeed a great post.And i have to recognize, that myself i did some of those mistakes over the years.But who didn’t

  • Phatp

    I just wanna say THANK YOU guys for sharing all this stuff
    you’re unique in your openness and willingness to share the tricks of the trade
    Keep it up! wish you success

  • kate

    great post jeff! I can’t wait to read the rest :)

  • kate

    great post jeff! I can’t wait to read the rest :)

  • kate

    great post jeff! I can’t wait to read the rest :)

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  • http://www.gomedia.us Kim

    @Jackson – What are you referring to? A quick search of this post only turns up the word ‘loose’ once – in your comment.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Kim

    @Jackson – What are you referring to? A quick search of this post only turns up the word ‘loose’ once – in your comment.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Kim

    @Jackson – What are you referring to? A quick search of this post only turns up the word ‘loose’ once – in your comment.

  • adam d

    Another awesome post!

    When is the Go Media Designer’s Bible coming out??!!

    If the people at Go Media put together a book containing all their insights for designers I would most definitely purchase one.

  • adam d

    Another awesome post!

    When is the Go Media Designer’s Bible coming out??!!

    If the people at Go Media put together a book containing all their insights for designers I would most definitely purchase one.

  • adam d

    Another awesome post!

    When is the Go Media Designer’s Bible coming out??!!

    If the people at Go Media put together a book containing all their insights for designers I would most definitely purchase one.

  • http://okpants.blogspot.com Pants

    Wait…you mean you’re supposed to get paid for this stuff?

  • http://okpants.blogspot.com Pants

    Wait…you mean you’re supposed to get paid for this stuff?

  • http://okpants.blogspot.com Pants

    Wait…you mean you’re supposed to get paid for this stuff?

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  • http://www.hamroawaaz.com/ GodMode

    All of the stories seems so familiar, because I’ve also been through all these situations. I too strongly feel that, we as designers, should also make a stand. But at the end of the day i also know that “the customer is always right.

  • http://www.hamroawaaz.com/ United Voices

    All of the stories seems so familiar, because I’ve also been through all these situations. I too strongly feel that, we as designers, should also make a stand. But at the end of the day i also know that “the customer is always right.

  • exigent

    As always, a very insightful read. Typography, I believe for many, is the root of all evil in designer’s folios. Many of us grow up drawing and sketching our little hearts out without having much thought to typography. Drawing since early childhood, typography in itself is an afterthought; meaning that I didn’t consider type until years later. I know for myself, type never entered my work until college… so I am undeniably behind the eight ball… even 6 years out.

    Pricing too has been a bit of a tricky subject. Starting off, I charged nothing, just to get the experience. Then I began charging 10/hr, after work became overwhelming it raised to 20/hr. As of today I charge 40/hr, but still feel that I am giving away some of my projects due to clients who “would like to pay that much, but instead wishes to pay X for the project as a whole”. Judging what a job might take for time is at times where I fail. I will charge for 5 hours, but it ends up taking 10-12.

    What are your feelings of flat fees?

    I am looking forward to the second part in the series. Cheers.

  • exigent

    As always, a very insightful read. Typography, I believe for many, is the root of all evil in designer’s folios. Many of us grow up drawing and sketching our little hearts out without having much thought to typography. Drawing since early childhood, typography in itself is an afterthought; meaning that I didn’t consider type until years later. I know for myself, type never entered my work until college… so I am undeniably behind the eight ball… even 6 years out.

    Pricing too has been a bit of a tricky subject. Starting off, I charged nothing, just to get the experience. Then I began charging 10/hr, after work became overwhelming it raised to 20/hr. As of today I charge 40/hr, but still feel that I am giving away some of my projects due to clients who “would like to pay that much, but instead wishes to pay X for the project as a whole”. Judging what a job might take for time is at times where I fail. I will charge for 5 hours, but it ends up taking 10-12.

    What are your feelings of flat fees?

    I am looking forward to the second part in the series. Cheers.

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  • http://www.michaelkubinski.com MK

    This was a very good article. I’m a local Cleveland designer and Go Media is a great firm in the area. I like how they reach out to the world with this blog with great information and tutorials.

    One critique though on being professional….would calling young designers “babies” be the right wording. It’s kind of hypocritical (no offense)

    thanks…awesome blog again can’t wait for the next article.

  • http://www.michaelkubinski.com MK

    This was a very good article. I’m a local Cleveland designer and Go Media is a great firm in the area. I like how they reach out to the world with this blog with great information and tutorials.

    One critique though on being professional….would calling young designers “babies” be the right wording. It’s kind of hypocritical (no offense)

    thanks…awesome blog again can’t wait for the next article.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    @MK – I am saying “babies” to ignite a flame under them so they stand up for themselves. Most of these problems stem from the client taking advantage of our kind attitudes.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    @MK – I am saying “babies” to ignite a flame under them so they stand up for themselves. Most of these problems stem from the client taking advantage of our kind attitudes.

  • John MacMenamin

    Very well written and amazing layout you guys!
    I will be back.
    Floated.

  • John MacMenamin

    Very well written and amazing layout you guys!
    I will be back.
    Floated.

  • Fundamental Designs

    Once again, great post. I’m constantly learning something new from you guys and this blog. Thanks for seeking out the masters…I love learning from the best!

  • Rick

    Your first point is really accurate and you can see a larger scale example in the fact that Steve and Barry’s has filed for bankruptcy. Apparently, $8 t-shirts didn’t work out so well.

    Excellent article.

  • Rick

    Your first point is really accurate and you can see a larger scale example in the fact that Steve and Barry’s has filed for bankruptcy. Apparently, $8 t-shirts didn’t work out so well.

    Excellent article.

  • http://www.alinestudio.com JeffreyEric

    this is a great post, Jeff. i’m eager to read the next 2 installments. i definitely enjoy the comments of the quoted designers, i can certainly relate to them from my own experience. in regards to all those young designers out there; it’s true that dignity and respect can go a long way in having repeat (and faithful) clients. in my experience ALL of my clients have been by word-of-mouth. if i wasn’t a ‘nice guy’ (and professional) you can bet that no one would recommend me to their friends.

  • http://www.alinestudio.com JeffreyEric

    this is a great post, Jeff. i’m eager to read the next 2 installments. i definitely enjoy the comments of the quoted designers, i can certainly relate to them from my own experience. in regards to all those young designers out there; it’s true that dignity and respect can go a long way in having repeat (and faithful) clients. in my experience ALL of my clients have been by word-of-mouth. if i wasn’t a ‘nice guy’ (and professional) you can bet that no one would recommend me to their friends.

  • Phatp

    I just wanna say THANK YOU guys for sharing all this stuff
    you’re unique in your openness and willingness to share the tricks of the trade
    Keep it up! wish you success

  • Phatp

    I just wanna say THANK YOU guys for sharing all this stuff
    you’re unique in your openness and willingness to share the tricks of the trade
    Keep it up! wish you success

  • Tamish

    hey jeff i read your article, and thats some good advicee man
    learnt alot from it. i never really cared that much for typography
    but i gess im gonna giv it a shot. ill be lookin forward for part2
    peace man

  • Tamish

    hey jeff i read your article, and thats some good advicee man
    learnt alot from it. i never really cared that much for typography
    but i gess im gonna giv it a shot. ill be lookin forward for part2
    peace man

  • http://www.michaelkubinski.com MK

    @Jeff…. cool man…I get it. I like fires.

    I read this article here, then I was browsing QBN and saw a link there….you guys are all over then interweb!

    I like your critique style at gomedia…no BS and it’s real. You remind me of my college professors at OWU and myself. Later.

    MK

  • http://www.michaelkubinski.com MK

    @Jeff…. cool man…I get it. I like fires.

    I read this article here, then I was browsing QBN and saw a link there….you guys are all over then interweb!

    I like your critique style at gomedia…no BS and it’s real. You remind me of my college professors at OWU and myself. Later.

    MK

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Another great, direct article.

    On the production side of things, more and more it seems to me that some sort of “certificate” for certain areas of print production would be helpful. If one were “licensed” or “certified” for CMYK print production, screenprinted etc., might help to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    These wouldn’t be requirements, but rather ways for illustrators/designers to signify that they pass certain knowledge/educational requirements in certain non-creative aspects of the work. Similar to the ‘Adobe Certified Expert’ program, where you can test to be considered expert/proficient with a software application.

    On the design side of things, well… I guess that is up to the client to decide of they liek the work. Some of the mistakes you mention just seem like they are so obvious to avoid. I think a lot of that is due to those “I’ve got a pirated copy of Photoshop – I’m a designer!” types out there. As I always say to that: just because you own a pencil, doesn’t mean you can draw.

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Another great, direct article.

    On the production side of things, more and more it seems to me that some sort of “certificate” for certain areas of print production would be helpful. If one were “licensed” or “certified” for CMYK print production, screenprinted etc., might help to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    These wouldn’t be requirements, but rather ways for illustrators/designers to signify that they pass certain knowledge/educational requirements in certain non-creative aspects of the work. Similar to the ‘Adobe Certified Expert’ program, where you can test to be considered expert/proficient with a software application.

    On the design side of things, well… I guess that is up to the client to decide of they liek the work. Some of the mistakes you mention just seem like they are so obvious to avoid. I think a lot of that is due to those “I’ve got a pirated copy of Photoshop – I’m a designer!” types out there. As I always say to that: just because you own a pencil, doesn’t mean you can draw.

  • http://www.maguiredesign.com Joseph

    Insightful, and well written. kudos. Greatwork too btw.

  • http://www.maguiredesign.com Joseph

    Insightful, and well written. kudos. Greatwork too btw.

  • Matt

    Great article! There’s a lot of good information in here, I for one know I struggle with typography.. I was wondering, does anyone know any good books or sites to learn more about typography?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  • Matt

    Great article! There’s a lot of good information in here, I for one know I struggle with typography.. I was wondering, does anyone know any good books or sites to learn more about typography?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  • Fundamental Designs

    Once again, great post. I’m constantly learning something new from you guys and this blog. Thanks for seeking out the masters…I love learning from the best!

  • Keith Li

    Hi,

    I am an aspiring as well as learning my way to become a graphic designer and i find that these information given are very helpful in a way for my future. I like to thanks GoMediaDesign for your tips and advice. But i would like to enquire, what would be a good printer to purchase for our designs?

  • Keith Li

    Hi,

    I am an aspiring as well as learning my way to become a graphic designer and i find that these information given are very helpful in a way for my future. I like to thanks GoMediaDesign for your tips and advice. But i would like to enquire, what would be a good printer to purchase for our designs?

  • Derek

    The article was quite informative, especially to those not well versed in the t-shirt world. Like mentioned, greenhorns end up making more work for themselves than necessary but we all do it. Its just part of the learning curve. An unfortunate necessity…

    The section where you say you’re a firm believer in not being the artist and the color separator is a gray area I’ve argued for years. On one end, you’re free to fly willy-nilly in the wind, designing whatever your heart desires. On the other end, the printer is cursing you for something near impossible to produce.

    For the past 6 years, I’ve worked directly with 5 print shops, creating artwork for their walk-in customers. More often than not, the customer hasn’t a clue what they really want; just a vague idea. From my experience, I lose work by creating something too technically difficult. All printers lose money by wasting time on tedious designs. If I consistently produce that, my pocketbook suffers as those shops go elsewhere. Of couse

    On the same token, when I take on a customer directly, I’ll steer them away from those same issues from the start by explaining the difficulties inherent with their “Get rich selling “Designer” tees on a budget” scheme.

    Again, a gray area, but one worth considering when creating that 6 color, simulated process design with two spot touch plates and a splash of glitter on the neck of a pull-string hoodie…

  • Derek

    The article was quite informative, especially to those not well versed in the t-shirt world. Like mentioned, greenhorns end up making more work for themselves than necessary but we all do it. Its just part of the learning curve. An unfortunate necessity…

    The section where you say you’re a firm believer in not being the artist and the color separator is a gray area I’ve argued for years. On one end, you’re free to fly willy-nilly in the wind, designing whatever your heart desires. On the other end, the printer is cursing you for something near impossible to produce.

    For the past 6 years, I’ve worked directly with 5 print shops, creating artwork for their walk-in customers. More often than not, the customer hasn’t a clue what they really want; just a vague idea. From my experience, I lose work by creating something too technically difficult. All printers lose money by wasting time on tedious designs. If I consistently produce that, my pocketbook suffers as those shops go elsewhere. Of couse

    On the same token, when I take on a customer directly, I’ll steer them away from those same issues from the start by explaining the difficulties inherent with their “Get rich selling “Designer” tees on a budget” scheme.

    Again, a gray area, but one worth considering when creating that 6 color, simulated process design with two spot touch plates and a splash of glitter on the neck of a pull-string hoodie…

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    @Derek and all those comment on when I said the designer doesn’t NEED to be the color separator as well. Let me clarify that a bit.

    I am not saying that designers should just design whatever they feel like without regards to the limitations of screen printing. That’s just silly. If a band has no budget and can barely afford hiring me to design something, I’m not about to do a full color design and just tell them to deal with it. I’m going to do something low color because it works better with their budget. Common sense.

    However, when a client tells me “We can print full color, foils, all over prints, etc” I’m going to go all out. I do not know how to prepare the artwork for print because I honestly have never had to. You can call me ignorant, and that’s ok. But when you’re working with capable printers who HAVE the staff to get it done right, then its all good.

    Obviously, I’d like to learn from a pro the ins and outs of color separation. But until then, I will design according to the specs of the client’s budget and the printer’s requirements.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    @Derek and all those comment on when I said the designer doesn’t NEED to be the color separator as well. Let me clarify that a bit.

    I am not saying that designers should just design whatever they feel like without regards to the limitations of screen printing. That’s just silly. If a band has no budget and can barely afford hiring me to design something, I’m not about to do a full color design and just tell them to deal with it. I’m going to do something low color because it works better with their budget. Common sense.

    However, when a client tells me “We can print full color, foils, all over prints, etc” I’m going to go all out. I do not know how to prepare the artwork for print because I honestly have never had to. You can call me ignorant, and that’s ok. But when you’re working with capable printers who HAVE the staff to get it done right, then its all good.

    Obviously, I’d like to learn from a pro the ins and outs of color separation. But until then, I will design according to the specs of the client’s budget and the printer’s requirements.

  • Alex Tomlinson

    I absolutely love pretty much everything GoMedia do. However the “unprofessional behaviour” section is almost offensive. As a user of photoshop since the age of 10 (I am now 17) I can say that I have graphics teachers in college who are supposed to be educating me on photoshop, and whom I could teach more than a thing or two too. Don’t get me wrong I’m not arrogant enough to say that I know it all, in fact there is so much that I still need to learn. However the common view that just because you are under or of a certain age (in this case 15 and having access to the internet) That you aren’t qualified as a designer. This may not be the message you wanted to get across, but to be honest as a part of the generation that is getting attacked by everybody in the world the design community has always been one of the places where I felt that it was young and open minded enough to not attack us.
    Also don’t forget that all these bands and apparel companies you design and illustrate for rely on the 15 year olds to buy their products. Lets face it, those of us without a full time job have much more time to find out about the more underground bands that get their chance in the spotlight. So if we can be the target market, why can’t we be the designers?

  • Alex Tomlinson

    I absolutely love pretty much everything GoMedia do. However the “unprofessional behaviour” section is almost offensive. As a user of photoshop since the age of 10 (I am now 17) I can say that I have graphics teachers in college who are supposed to be educating me on photoshop, and whom I could teach more than a thing or two too. Don’t get me wrong I’m not arrogant enough to say that I know it all, in fact there is so much that I still need to learn. However the common view that just because you are under or of a certain age (in this case 15 and having access to the internet) That you aren’t qualified as a designer. This may not be the message you wanted to get across, but to be honest as a part of the generation that is getting attacked by everybody in the world the design community has always been one of the places where I felt that it was young and open minded enough to not attack us.
    Also don’t forget that all these bands and apparel companies you design and illustrate for rely on the 15 year olds to buy their products. Lets face it, those of us without a full time job have much more time to find out about the more underground bands that get their chance in the spotlight. So if we can be the target market, why can’t we be the designers?

  • Kashif A Khan

    This was a very good article. All of the stories seem so familiar, I am doing these mistakes. And I learn so many things now I won’t do these mistakes again. Thank you Jeff for the post it helps a lot.

    Thank you and looking forward to read the rest.

  • Kashif A Khan

    This was a very good article. All of the stories seem so familiar, I am doing these mistakes. And I learn so many things now I won’t do these mistakes again. Thank you Jeff for the post it helps a lot.

    Thank you and looking forward to read the rest.

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  • ChequeredManiac

    @Alex Tomlinson

    I’m also 17 and I would say I felt the same at the start of reading the unprofessional behaviour section but I began to understand where Jeff is coming from (or at least I thought I did). Look at the general population of the internet and all the flaming that goes on in forums, by numbers I’d say it would be the younger denomination that are responsible for all that crap.

    I should add that I don’t count myself among them and have always hated the fact that I was being associated with them.

    “However the common view that just because you are under or of a certain age (in this case 15 and having access to the internet) That you aren’t qualified as a designer”

    Do you honsetly believe this to be true?
    Fair enough there might be that one prolific genius child that can but in general you can’t be experienced enough to be called a qualified designer at the age of 17, I should stress the word experience. Experience comes with time and nothing else, which means that you will not have come across the problems and solutions you will need to deal with by the time hit 20. I completely disagree with quoted statement and I know that it will take me a very long time until I feel like a “qualified designer”.

    To me this is not an attack but a , to coin a phrase, reality-check. We need to see that we are infact learning and not as good as these people, YET.

    To sum my somewhat rant-ish post, we’re young, mostlikely talented but in-experienced. Give yourself some time.

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  • ChequeredManiac

    @Alex Tomlinson

    I’m also 17 and I would say I felt the same at the start of reading the unprofessional behaviour section but I began to understand where Jeff is coming from (or at least I thought I did). Look at the general population of the internet and all the flaming that goes on in forums, by numbers I’d say it would be the younger denomination that are responsible for all that crap.

    I should add that I don’t count myself among them and have always hated the fact that I was being associated with them.

    “However the common view that just because you are under or of a certain age (in this case 15 and having access to the internet) That you aren’t qualified as a designer”

    Do you honsetly believe this to be true?
    Fair enough there might be that one prolific genius child that can but in general you can’t be experienced enough to be called a qualified designer at the age of 17, I should stress the word experience. Experience comes with time and nothing else, which means that you will not have come across the problems and solutions you will need to deal with by the time hit 20. I completely disagree with quoted statement and I know that it will take me a very long time until I feel like a “qualified designer”.

    To me this is not an attack but a , to coin a phrase, reality-check. We need to see that we are infact learning and not as good as these people, YET.

    To sum my somewhat rant-ish post, we’re young, mostlikely talented but in-experienced. Give yourself some time.

  • http://www.fashion-incubator.com/ Kathleen

    Are you serious? These aren’t designers and this isn’t the “apparel industry”.

    Decorating tees is no different than going to the grocery store, buying a pre-baked cake, taking it home and decorating it with canned frosting (that maybe you colored yourself) and calling yourself a master pastry chef.

  • http://www.fashion-incubator.com/ Kathleen

    Are you serious? These aren’t designers and this isn’t the “apparel industry”.

    Decorating tees is no different than going to the grocery store, buying a pre-baked cake, taking it home and decorating it with canned frosting (that maybe you colored yourself) and calling yourself a master pastry chef.

  • Glenn

    Thanks Geoff…

    As usual No Grey Area (B.S.)approach, thats like a mantra in my studio

    Im a designer in my 40′s, scary saying that out loud, but I have just gone through a few of the things you mentioned. I spent 6 years in another industry and have returned to my first love 2 years ago. I strongly believe that we learn of each other, as designers. I had to play catch up after 6 years away and I did this by looking at other peoples work and what they were producing and how… Im also happy to email them and tell them how much I liked it…

    I have just put up my rates, sent my clients an email to explain and followed that up with a phone call. You have to make things personal. To my surprise they were all fine with it. Like the article they all said, “thats cool, we’ll stick with you because of the work & service we get”.

    Im happy to take on the bread and butter stuff. It may be a bit boring but it can also allow you to spend more time on the creative stuff you like to design for some of those clients that like to experiment a bit..

    Honesty is a big part of my business and I have a loyal client list that like my approach, no grey areas… I think that our industry is seen as a bit flakey sometimes… so many times I get enquiries where the first line is, Oh I ask this designer to do this job but..???… Dont take the bite… have a positive response and don’t get dragged into bitchin… I never looks or sounds good.

    Being a professional is a must, this is a competitive industry, young designers should know that it could also be the difference it getting that dream client. Clients want to know that you can take care of biz and communication is paramount. Like the designs we produce, the aura and confidence you exude gives YOUR EMPLOYERS a feeling of ease…

    Could ramble on for ages about this stuff.

    type & design, I agree, spend the extra time to make it work together..

    love the article
    Glenn

  • Glenn

    Thanks Geoff…

    As usual No Grey Area (B.S.)approach, thats like a mantra in my studio

    Im a designer in my 40′s, scary saying that out loud, but I have just gone through a few of the things you mentioned. I spent 6 years in another industry and have returned to my first love 2 years ago. I strongly believe that we learn of each other, as designers. I had to play catch up after 6 years away and I did this by looking at other peoples work and what they were producing and how… Im also happy to email them and tell them how much I liked it…

    I have just put up my rates, sent my clients an email to explain and followed that up with a phone call. You have to make things personal. To my surprise they were all fine with it. Like the article they all said, “thats cool, we’ll stick with you because of the work & service we get”.

    Im happy to take on the bread and butter stuff. It may be a bit boring but it can also allow you to spend more time on the creative stuff you like to design for some of those clients that like to experiment a bit..

    Honesty is a big part of my business and I have a loyal client list that like my approach, no grey areas… I think that our industry is seen as a bit flakey sometimes… so many times I get enquiries where the first line is, Oh I ask this designer to do this job but..???… Dont take the bite… have a positive response and don’t get dragged into bitchin… I never looks or sounds good.

    Being a professional is a must, this is a competitive industry, young designers should know that it could also be the difference it getting that dream client. Clients want to know that you can take care of biz and communication is paramount. Like the designs we produce, the aura and confidence you exude gives YOUR EMPLOYERS a feeling of ease…

    Could ramble on for ages about this stuff.

    type & design, I agree, spend the extra time to make it work together..

    love the article
    Glenn

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    @ Kathleen

    That is the most insane thing I’ve ever heard. We are tee designers and what we do IS part of the apparel industry.

    I guess you need a dictionary definition of apparel, so here ya go!

    ap·par·el
    –noun
    1. clothing, esp. outerwear; garments; attire; raiment.
    2. anything that decorates or covers.

    If you need more clarification, feel free to visit your local library to read up on apparel.

    Do we make a pattern and stitch the shirts together ourselves? No.
    Are we designers? Yes, in every sense of the word.
    Is what we do part of the apparel industry? You betcha!

    Before I started designing tees I worked as a print/web designer. I AM a designer. Now since you’ve made your statement, feel free to post up some of your work somewhere for us all to see. I’m assuming your tee designs are incredibly better than all of ours or else you wouldn’t be making that statement.

    Sorry to be a downer here, everyone. At any rate, Kathleen, feel free to post up some of your tee designs.

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    @ Kathleen

    That is the most insane thing I’ve ever heard. We are tee designers and what we do IS part of the apparel industry.

    I guess you need a dictionary definition of apparel, so here ya go!

    ap·par·el
    –noun
    1. clothing, esp. outerwear; garments; attire; raiment.
    2. anything that decorates or covers.

    If you need more clarification, feel free to visit your local library to read up on apparel.

    Do we make a pattern and stitch the shirts together ourselves? No.
    Are we designers? Yes, in every sense of the word.
    Is what we do part of the apparel industry? You betcha!

    Before I started designing tees I worked as a print/web designer. I AM a designer. Now since you’ve made your statement, feel free to post up some of your work somewhere for us all to see. I’m assuming your tee designs are incredibly better than all of ours or else you wouldn’t be making that statement.

    Sorry to be a downer here, everyone. At any rate, Kathleen, feel free to post up some of your tee designs.

  • http://okpants.com okpants design

    @ Kathleen:

    “Are you serious? These aren’t designers and this isn’t the “apparel industry”.”

    Curious who “These” refers to.

  • http://okpants.com okpants design

    @ Kathleen:

    “Are you serious? These aren’t designers and this isn’t the “apparel industry”.”

    Curious who “These” refers to.

  • http://randomentity.com RandomEntity

    @ kathleen
    Seriously?
    Decorating tees is no different than going to the grocery store, buying a pre-baked cake, taking it home and decorating it with canned frosting (that maybe you colored yourself) and calling yourself a master pastry chef.

    tee’s are our canvas. if you want to make paper, that’s fine, but at the end of the day no one goes “wow, that paper is really put together well!” they say “WOW That design/illustration is totally ace!”
    there’s a difference between graphic design and clothing design, i think you found the wrong blog.

  • http://randomentity.com RandomEntity

    @ kathleen
    Seriously?
    Decorating tees is no different than going to the grocery store, buying a pre-baked cake, taking it home and decorating it with canned frosting (that maybe you colored yourself) and calling yourself a master pastry chef.

    tee’s are our canvas. if you want to make paper, that’s fine, but at the end of the day no one goes “wow, that paper is really put together well!” they say “WOW That design/illustration is totally ace!”
    there’s a difference between graphic design and clothing design, i think you found the wrong blog.

  • http://www.fubiz.net Fubiz

    By the way, beautiful template!

  • http://www.fubiz.net Fubiz

    By the way, beautiful template!

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  • Joshua Michie

    Thank you, ye defenders of the faith. I admire and applaud every designer that posts learning experiences to raise the value of our industry. Too often we are seen as a second class service.

  • Joshua Michie

    Thank you, ye defenders of the faith. I admire and applaud every designer that posts learning experiences to raise the value of our industry. Too often we are seen as a second class service.

  • justin

    I think this post was has good intentions, and may help some people, but I also think being an amazing designer is about remembering that you are an artist, and not listening to everyone else’s rules. Designers always seem VERY quick to judge everyone else’s work, throw in their opinion and often be very critical. I went to art school and learned all the rules, but i didn’t necessarily get well known and make money buy following them. Things like “make sure to keep your type away from the edges…”, worries me that people would accept that as a “rule.” How bout mash all your type up and have it bleeding all the way off the page so it’s barely legible, that could be amazing design as well. I also think it’s important that you have some level of professionalism when dealing with clients, but some of the most amazing artists I know are tatted all the way up their necks, and use the word fuck in every sentance and practically have their own language. I think anyone that wants to work with amazing creative minds and would pass judgement on them for using some slang words in a conference call needs to look at themselves and figure out why they are so critical of others. I think it is important for designers to learn all the rules, and remember that rules are meant to be broken.

  • justin

    I think this post was has good intentions, and may help some people, but I also think being an amazing designer is about remembering that you are an artist, and not listening to everyone else’s rules. Designers always seem VERY quick to judge everyone else’s work, throw in their opinion and often be very critical. I went to art school and learned all the rules, but i didn’t necessarily get well known and make money buy following them. Things like “make sure to keep your type away from the edges…”, worries me that people would accept that as a “rule.” How bout mash all your type up and have it bleeding all the way off the page so it’s barely legible, that could be amazing design as well. I also think it’s important that you have some level of professionalism when dealing with clients, but some of the most amazing artists I know are tatted all the way up their necks, and use the word fuck in every sentance and practically have their own language. I think anyone that wants to work with amazing creative minds and would pass judgement on them for using some slang words in a conference call needs to look at themselves and figure out why they are so critical of others. I think it is important for designers to learn all the rules, and remember that rules are meant to be broken.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Homer Simpson

    @ Kathleen:
    Decorating tees with frosting? mmmmm frosting…

  • http://www.gomedia.us Homer Simpson

    @ Kathleen:
    Decorating tees with frosting? mmmmm frosting…

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  • R Findlay

    Great start – one thing about the pricing.
    A decade ago I did some work in apparel – I charge $50-75/design. Thing is it often too 6-8hrs/design. No way to make a living – right? Thing is, when you REALLY know what you are doing you CAN make a living at it. I recently finished another run in the garment biz. I produced better quality work in a tenth of the time. Producing 80-90 designs a week. (with 2-3 variation of each) at $100 each. Practice makes perfect.
    My suggestion for budding designers – LEARN – LEARN – LEARN! Go to a print shop, see how it’s done – EVERY step. Learn to use simple effects rather than overly complicated techniques. My 2 pennies.

  • R Findlay

    Great start – one thing about the pricing.
    A decade ago I did some work in apparel – I charge $50-75/design. Thing is it often too 6-8hrs/design. No way to make a living – right? Thing is, when you REALLY know what you are doing you CAN make a living at it. I recently finished another run in the garment biz. I produced better quality work in a tenth of the time. Producing 80-90 designs a week. (with 2-3 variation of each) at $100 each. Practice makes perfect.
    My suggestion for budding designers – LEARN – LEARN – LEARN! Go to a print shop, see how it’s done – EVERY step. Learn to use simple effects rather than overly complicated techniques. My 2 pennies.

  • Tasha

    I began freelancing to build up my portfolio in 2003. Luckily Typography and Professionalism have never been a problem of mine, but I can so attest to undercharging and overpromising to get clients. It didn’t help that I also started out with friends, who ALWAYS think that they can get hookups and freebies…

    Perhaps that may be one of your mistakes to come! :-)

  • Tasha

    I began freelancing to build up my portfolio in 2003. Luckily Typography and Professionalism have never been a problem of mine, but I can so attest to undercharging and overpromising to get clients. It didn’t help that I also started out with friends, who ALWAYS think that they can get hookups and freebies…

    Perhaps that may be one of your mistakes to come! :-)

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  • http://www.gomedia.us Liz

    @Kathleen –

    Based on information found in the link you provided us with, you are a fashion designer with a published book. So, one might understand your anger towards those who create imagery for the apparel industry. It certainly isn’t as tedious or delicate as the art of sewing, and those of you who design and execute a successful piece must rarely steep in the glory that these talented people enjoy regularly.

    But as a designer, one would think you’d have more appreciation for their process. They, too, work under the constraints of a budget and deadline, suffer creative blocks, and feel pressure to follow or break the “rules.”

    Regardless of your definition, it’s the blood, sweat and tears that make someone a designer. It’s the precision, the planning, and the ability to step back and recognize what’s working and what isn’t.

    I’m sure most of those who create tee designs have nothing but respective for those in the fashion design industry. I hope you can find it in yourself to do the same for them, because like it our not, they’re in your family.

  • LizHunt

    @Kathleen –

    Based on information found in the link you provided us with, you are a fashion designer with a published book. So, one might understand your anger towards those who create imagery for the apparel industry. It certainly isn’t as tedious or delicate as the art of sewing, and those of you who design and execute a successful piece must rarely steep in the glory that these talented people enjoy regularly.

    But as a designer, one would think you’d have more appreciation for their process. They, too, work under the constraints of a budget and deadline, suffer creative blocks, and feel pressure to follow or break the “rules.”

    Regardless of your definition, it’s the blood, sweat and tears that make someone a designer. It’s the precision, the planning, and the ability to step back and recognize what’s working and what isn’t.

    I’m sure most of those who create tee designs have nothing but respective for those in the fashion design industry. I hope you can find it in yourself to do the same for them, because like it our not, they’re in your family.

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  • Shae

    Very nice. I am not going to be a designer, but I do enjoy playing with pictures in the GIMP, and have a very healthy respect for the people who make a living doing it. I wouldn’t pass typography 101, but I do have a good eye for what looks well with each other, so whenever i need a particular style font I have a few good sites I go to and can find something that suits what I’m doing rather well. I have read about the price mistake before on several other similar lists, and it can be an issue, but there really isn’t much of a solution when just starting out.

    Anyway, thank you for the very good piece of reading. I really appreciate it.

  • Shae

    Very nice. I am not going to be a designer, but I do enjoy playing with pictures in the GIMP, and have a very healthy respect for the people who make a living doing it. I wouldn’t pass typography 101, but I do have a good eye for what looks well with each other, so whenever i need a particular style font I have a few good sites I go to and can find something that suits what I’m doing rather well. I have read about the price mistake before on several other similar lists, and it can be an issue, but there really isn’t much of a solution when just starting out.

    Anyway, thank you for the very good piece of reading. I really appreciate it.

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  • andar909

    hi, andar here, i just read your post. i like very much. agree to you, sir.

  • andar909

    hi, andar here, i just read your post. i like very much. agree to you, sir.

  • Jessica

    Thanks for this series of posts – so so valuable!!

    I need help with a particular issue – and any supplied will be greatly appreciated by anyone reading this.

    I’m a freelance designer, worked for the last 5 years in South Africa, and recently moved to London hoping to do the same. In SA i’m experienced in the industry and know what to charge, but I don’t know London’s industry very well yet.

    Does anyone know the basic going rate for a freelance / contract based designer in London? What can I comfortably charge per project / per day / per hour without overcharging or underselling myself?

    Thanks!!!

  • Jessica

    Thanks for this series of posts – so so valuable!!

    I need help with a particular issue – and any supplied will be greatly appreciated by anyone reading this.

    I’m a freelance designer, worked for the last 5 years in South Africa, and recently moved to London hoping to do the same. In SA i’m experienced in the industry and know what to charge, but I don’t know London’s industry very well yet.

    Does anyone know the basic going rate for a freelance / contract based designer in London? What can I comfortably charge per project / per day / per hour without overcharging or underselling myself?

    Thanks!!!

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  • luke_ale_rask

    In your artical you talked about how young “designers” are killing pros with their cheap and unprofessional designs.

    I think you just did the same with all pros who are writing articles in magazines on topics like “how to be designer” and are getting paid for that.

  • luke_ale_rask

    In your artical you talked about how young “designers” are killing pros with their cheap and unprofessional designs.

    I think you just did the same with all pros who are writing articles in magazines on topics like “how to be designer” and are getting paid for that.

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  • http://slob.org.uk/ SLoB

    Great post, I would like to agree to disagree with one of the other posts above – “the customer is always right.“

    To me they do pay the bill but they are not always right which is why they come to you for guidance in the first place otherwise they would do it themselves. Sometimes you have to educate the client and prepare them for exactly how much things cost, If you work too cheap you might aswell dig yourself a grave, I can also appreciate that costs are looked at with a horrifying view from a clients position, depending on the work involved you have to educate them that it is an investment in their business, therefore it should not be seen as a direct cost.

    A piece in the article talks about sparks of creativity coming in phases is totally true, when the creativity does come around then you do go with the flow and you can work hours and hours more once you get into the zone but there is no way to keep at it consistently. I feel it is the duty of the designer to educate their clients on how designing is not some 1 or 2 hour job that can be done at any time, this is not possible no matter how good you are.

    Spacing rules, this I feel should be down to the designer putting down rules for themselves so that they look at spacing as a matter of habit, always giving plenty of whitespace where needed, margins etc.. If you have rules that you keep repeating to yourself as as part of your business ethos and as you design they just become a natural part of incorporating the spacing of sections, type or parts of the design rather than trying to force it in, separating sections is one of my favourite ways to keep spacing in check.

    One other thing regarding designs for clothing is customers have a distorted view on how much these things cost right from the start and often expect you to do the whole work from design to handing them the clothing and all for a small price, when you factor in all of the things that are needed to get to that result you can never recoup the cost.

  • http://slob.org.uk/ SLoB

    Great post, I would like to agree to disagree with one of the other posts above – “the customer is always right.“

    To me they do pay the bill but they are not always right which is why they come to you for guidance in the first place otherwise they would do it themselves. Sometimes you have to educate the client and prepare them for exactly how much things cost, If you work too cheap you might aswell dig yourself a grave, I can also appreciate that costs are looked at with a horrifying view from a clients position, depending on the work involved you have to educate them that it is an investment in their business, therefore it should not be seen as a direct cost.

    A piece in the article talks about sparks of creativity coming in phases is totally true, when the creativity does come around then you do go with the flow and you can work hours and hours more once you get into the zone but there is no way to keep at it consistently. I feel it is the duty of the designer to educate their clients on how designing is not some 1 or 2 hour job that can be done at any time, this is not possible no matter how good you are.

    Spacing rules, this I feel should be down to the designer putting down rules for themselves so that they look at spacing as a matter of habit, always giving plenty of whitespace where needed, margins etc.. If you have rules that you keep repeating to yourself as as part of your business ethos and as you design they just become a natural part of incorporating the spacing of sections, type or parts of the design rather than trying to force it in, separating sections is one of my favourite ways to keep spacing in check.

    One other thing regarding designs for clothing is customers have a distorted view on how much these things cost right from the start and often expect you to do the whole work from design to handing them the clothing and all for a small price, when you factor in all of the things that are needed to get to that result you can never recoup the cost.

  • Adam M

    Thus far, the 5 mistakes are no-brainers, but this industry is loaded with those that have little business sense, or common sense for that matter.

  • Adam M

    Thus far, the 5 mistakes are no-brainers, but this industry is loaded with those that have little business sense, or common sense for that matter.

  • http://olafg.com olafg

    I am an aspiring designer and I asked a guy I know in a upcoming band if they needed a website. Thing is, I said I could do it for free since I know him. Do I have to burn in hell now?

    It is very hard to for an aspiring designer to get jobs if you always charge high rates.

    And what about building a portfolio? Isn’t this very essential for me?

    I never, and I mean never give away free work to coroporate stuff, but when it comes to an indie band and I know their budget is very limited, is it okey then?

    If author would answer me on email, it would be awesome!

  • http://olafg.com olafg

    I am an aspiring designer and I asked a guy I know in a upcoming band if they needed a website. Thing is, I said I could do it for free since I know him. Do I have to burn in hell now?

    It is very hard to for an aspiring designer to get jobs if you always charge high rates.

    And what about building a portfolio? Isn’t this very essential for me?

    I never, and I mean never give away free work to coroporate stuff, but when it comes to an indie band and I know their budget is very limited, is it okey then?

    If author would answer me on email, it would be awesome!

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  • Adam Mann

    You showed example of afterthought text, but how about some where the text is good?

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  • tonybuy

    Children's Outerwear,Children's Jacket,Children's Knitwear,Children's Wear,Children's Rainwear,Girl's Cardigan,Boy's Sweat Shirt and Girls Coat from China Manufacturer
    http://www.childrengarment.com/Outerwear1.html

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

  • Rachel

    Olafg,
    I know exactly how you feel, because I'm in the same boat. I'm majoring in Graphic Design right now, and it's often hard for me to consider myself a designer. I am constantly calling myself a student of design, or some other wording of that phrase. I think you need to weigh your options.

    If you're in school and you don't want to charge a friend, then look at it as an opportunity to gain a portfolio piece for graduation. If you're not a student, then use the opportunity to have a portfolio piece to show prospective clients. It's hard to charge full price when the degree doesn't yet have your name, but if your work is really good, then it will speak for itself. If you're having trouble deciding what is a reasonable rate, you can ask working designers what they charge and weigh that against the work you do and the experience you have in the field.

    Also, there is one last possibility: design the website for free, but tell your friend that if there is anything else they want from you, like merch designs or album covers, you can charge for the time you spend on those products. If the site works, then you are definitely worthy of compensation!

    (I know that you asked for the author to respond, but I felt the need to answer as well. I hope it helped a little :) )

  • peachananr

    Awesome article!

    Really learned a lot by just reading this. Couldn't agree with you more about typography, i have been struggling to get my type right and usually ended up doing the last thing in the design which results in type not matching the design. I will be focusing more om my type in the next design

    Thanks for sharing such a great insights!

  • Voltecdesign

    You can still build your portfolio without doing design work for clients without charge.

    Consider signing up for the online design contests such as worth1000 or the likes. Enter the contests, or at the very least use the contests as ideas for personal art. You could also find inspiration around you. If you see something that strikes a good idea, than put your idea on paper and begin refining it.

    Or you could go ahead and design your friends site. Create the entire thing for practice, as practice is always a good thing. Then when it’s finished, present it to him and ask if he’d like to buy it. Whether he does or doesn’t, ask him if he would mind if you used it in your portfolio.

    You could also check with the the head of the design department, or your instructors. You would be surprised at how many jobs they either turn down or give to students because they prefer teaching over freelancing, or simply don’t have the time. Almost all of them are willing to pass a job onto one of their students and arrange for the client to pay “student pricing”. This is not only a way to get money for your designs, but also helps you learn to network and have a respected mentor in the design community vouching for you.

    I can assure you that charging anyone “free” is always bad. When you finally do graduate, those clients will likely return, or spread the word that you are free. Instead, consider “student pricing”. There are several sites you can find on google, and even books you can buy that will guide you on how to compare student pricing to professional pricing – such as what the mark-down would be, what a good base price is, and what the client should be expected to pay. Simply because you are a student doesn’t mean your artwork is worthless. Don’t sell yourself short – and free is ALWAYS short selling.

  • http://www.bestcardprinter.com Jeff Jones

    Great list of 5 where designers can make mistakes, and totally agree about the typography remarks, and loved the sentence “Under promise and over deliver. ALWAYS” very true, Cheers!

  • Cheryl

    I know I’m late to the party with the article, but this is great and I can’t wait to read the other two posts. One thing, and I know that you guys are apparel designers and this was written with that in mind, but it is important to know the printing process no matter what you are designing for: apparel, large format, screen printed posters – whatever. I’ve worked at a print shop, as a FT graphic designer, and now freelance and I can’t stress supplying your client with a correctly created file. Your clients and the printer will recognize and appriciate your knowledge and hard work. trust me.

  • Cheryl

    sorry for all the typos there at the end, the text box didn’t scroll and I missed them…oops.

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