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Working With Graphic Designers & Illustrators

Confused • Need Help with Your Project?

What Do Graphic Designers Do For You?

Working with Graphic Designers and Illustrators can be confusing if you don’t know what to expect. Graphic Designers or Graphic Artists are visual designers or visual consultants who use typography (text), photographs, and illustration to create all that you see everywhere around you, day in and day out. They create a design layout using other professionals to fill in the places where it is needed. They solve the problems associated with completing your project.

Advertisements, Logos for your business, Brochures, Posts for your social media, Posters, Book Covers, Packaging, Stamps, etc.

When working with Graphic Designers, they usually look to other professionals in the business to create what they need to fulfill the the look and feel they are trying to achieve for their client.

For example, they may need the help of an illustrator who creates an image either digitally or with other mediums at their disposal such as paint, ink, or a combination of art supplies. (This is where I come into the project as an illustrator. The graphic designer can hire me as need arises. Or the client has me create an illustration beforehand or they can license one I already have and pays me directly).

Other people they may hire to complete your design are photographers, writers, surface designers, videographers, proofreaders, etc. If they do hire additional help to complete your design, you will be responsible for those extra costs.

About Rights You are Buying

One thing you must know about a graphic designer using artists to create extras for you: the graphic designer has purchased certain rights to the objects they these other artists have created for your project. The copyrights belong to the artist and what they have created for your project is determined by the rights purchased.

So you must ask what your rights are. Most times the photo, art or video can only be used according to those rights purchased. For example, if a graphic designer or you have purchased an illustration with limited rights for a printed folder, that is all you can use that illustration for. You can’t use it for social media advertising, or in a podcast unless you purchase those additional uses in your rights agreement.

You, as the client, can provide your own photos, text or copy, and illustrations when working with graphic designers but they need to be of high quality to reproduce. And you must have the rights to use them in your project from the artist that created them.

What Should You Do Upon Contacting a Graphic Artist?

Your 1st step as a client is to explain your project to the graphic artist.

Once you have explained your project ask to see samples of their work, especially those that are similar to your project.

You can ask the graphic artist for names of previous clients or other professionals they have worked with in completing other jobs. Check these references if you are not familiar with the work of your graphic artist.

Ask these references about what kind of service they received, the designer’s role, and if they worked alone or with others. Other questions would be how long the project took, if they stayed in budget and if they met the deadlines.

The most important response is their satisfaction with the results they will use the graphic artist again. The same applies to the other artists you hire to create the photos or art for your projects.

What Comes Next:

Communicate Clearly

What are you trying  to say with your project: the message you are sending, who you are trying to reach with this message and the goal of the project.

For example:
Goal: An advertisement to create interest in your new model of high priced car to the luxury marketplace.
Message: This car is made for those people who like to have the best product, price no object.
The Audience: Those households making $300,000 and up.

Project Materials:

Discussion About Who Will be Providing What:

Basically what you will be providing. For example, you may provide the copy or text and photos of the above car. You may also want your logo. When providing photos or illustrations you must obey the copyright laws. Written permission from the artist or photographer is required to use their materials. You can be fined for using other people’s work without permission.

If what you provide is not good enough for it is what your project demands, you will have to come up with better materials. Or be charged additional costs to your budget for the graphic designer to provide it. For example, if your photos are not high resolution, you will have to shoot them over.

The Contract:

Once you have handed over the materials you are providing for your project, you should ask for an estimate. The designer will let you know if the quality of your materials are good enough to complete the project. If they aren’t you will have to provide better materials.

Changing your mind about the project from the initial concept will result in additional costs. Costs for time to make those changes to the design and any other related costs that are incurred.

For example you decide that the illustration you provided isn’t living up to the potential of your goal. So you decide to have the designer look for a better illustration and buying rights for using it. You will have to pay for the time to look for the right illustration and the cost of purchasing the rights to use it.

To change your copy you need to provide new copy or have the designer hire a copywriter to come up with the new copy. It takes time to do this and it will be added to the budget.


Set up a schedule with your designer for the project. This will depend on what you, the client, are providing and what other materials your designer needs to complete the project. And make sure to get signed approval from service providers when they can deliver their part of the project.

For example if you need a photographer for some photos. Contact the photographer. Explain what you need and ask when they will be able to fulfill that need. Get it in writing. And have your designer set up a schedule when all your parts of the project will be delivered.

Printing your project requires you to make sure when working with graphic designers that you tell them. They need time to schedule it in as well. Your designer will charge you for the time that it takes to get quotes from printers, etc. And any other professional people needed to complete your project.


When printing a project, you (the client) must proofread the final copy before signing off on it. Once you sign off on it, you are responsible for any printing errors. It is not your designer’s job to proofread it but many will point out an error if they see it. It is expensive to reprint a project!

There is nothing like a job well done. And when you hire professional graphic designers and illustrators that is what you get.

For more information on graphic designers and illustrators go to the Graphics Artists Guild site. They have a lot of helpful resources there. And take a look at my illustration to see if I am a fit for your next project.

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