What graphic designers want

Like any profession, the graphic design industry is fraught with stereotypes and misconceptions – they’re all Wacom-wielding, bespectacled sketch artists, right? Online designer marketplace, 99designs, begs to differ with their latest survey, aptly entitled ‘How to woo a designer’. 

In an effort to bridge the gap between clients’ needs and designers’ wants, nearly 2500 graphic designers were surveyed on everything from what makes them tick, to how they handle difficult clients. Fittingly, the results have been compiled into a nifty infographic, below.

We also took some time out to have a chat with Jason Aiken, Community Director at 99designs. Responsible for managing close to 200,000 designers every day, he offers some handy insight into the dynamic realm of graphic design.

How to woo a graphic designer

Q: What’s the current job climate for graphic design?

A: The demand for graphic designers is incredibly strong throughout all segments of the market. From the boardroom to the butcher shop, how we value design and understand its impact on our lives and our businesses continues to saturate society like never before. When you couple this with the surge of entrepreneurism and the growth and ever increasing sophistication of our online world, graphic designers have a lot of opportunities for the foreseeable future.

Q: What are some of the most commonly faced misconceptions about the graphic design community?

A: One of the most common misconceptions is that designers don’t make good business people. Thankfully, great design-led businesses like Pinterest, tumblr, Fab and Square are rapidly making this mindset obsolete.

Q: Is there a trend towards freelancing, and if so, why do you think this is taking place?

A: I think everyone dreams about being their own boss and setting their own rules. Freelancing can offer a great deal of freedom and flexibility, but as they say – freedom isn’t free. Being a full-time freelancer is hard work! One of the biggest challenges is finding that next opportunity. It takes a lot of time and effort to build a stable of clients and a steady referral network. That’s why freelancers flock to sites like 99designs because there are so many opportunities within easy reach.

Q: How has the Internet revolutionised the graphic design industry?

A: One of the simplest ways is that the Internet has completely changed how designers can work and interact with clients and colleagues. There are designers in the community at 99designs who travel the world or spend their winters working on a beach in Thailand, all without skipping a beat – it simply would not be possible without the Internet.

Q: What are some of the advantages of a marketplace scheme, like 99designs, for designers?

A: Designers love 99designs because it’s a great way to build client relationships, earn money, learn new skills and have fun. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Sydney or Serbia, or if you are a full-time freelancer, a hobbyist or a student – 99designs has a variety of different opportunities for those willing to take them. Designers realise the opportunity stretches far beyond the contest as between 30 to 40 per cent of contests lead to long-term relationships. Many full-time freelancers use 99designs help them even out the natural ebb and flow of their own client cycle, while students enjoy building their portfolios working on real projects with real clients, and hobbyists love keeping their part-time passions alive. All designers benefit from the learning opportunity of seeing how a dozen different designers approach the same design problem.

Q: And for businesses?

A: For businesses there really is no better way to find a designer than running a contest on 99designs. You learn so much more about a designer’s skill set and how you would actually work together than you possibly could by simply reviewing a portfolio of their work. Business owners love the process and being able to see dozens of different concepts from multiple perspectives rather than just a handful of concepts from a single designer. 

Q: What advice would you offer to someone looking to break into graphic design?

A: The best advice is to dive in and get started. There are so many opportunities to learn online – hours upon hours of tutorials, countless inspiration sites, and of course nothing beats the experience of cutting your teeth by working on real projects for real clients in communities like 99designs.

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