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How to Work Smoothly with a Graphic Artist

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
(This graphic shows the lyrics to a classic Disney Song. Can you read it?)

Whether on a book cover, a website design, an ad, or even a whole marketing barrage, graphic design can either materially increase your book’s chances of getting attention or can leave it unrecognized in the mountain of competitors. This goes for the self-published as well as for the commercially published.

While it is certainly possible for you to do your own graphics, or rely on your publisher, there are also very good reasons for writers to hire a professional graphic artist. Without elaborating on those reasons, in this post I’ll give you some brief insight into the working process of a graphic designer, and give you some pointers on how you as a client can increase the chances that your designer will give you exactly the fabulously stunning image that you wanted on time, under budget, and with a minimum of frustration and drama. There are a number of other websites that discuss graphic design, but I approach this topic from the viewpoint of a writer.

This will be the first of a two-part post. Today’s post will cover Knowing What you Want, Finding the Right Graphic Artist, and The Basic Graphic Design Process. The next post will discuss Money Matters, Tips to Getting the Right ‘Look’ and Avoiding Graphic Design Landmines.

First, Know What You Want.

Knowing what you want doesn’t mean that you can ‘see’ the exact image in your head down to the Art Nouveau font and the impressionist landscape detail background. (If you can ‘see’ the exact image you want in that much detail in your head, then DIY graphic design might be for you.)

Knowing what you want means you know what kind of graphic product you want to produce and what format that product will take. This involves far more than ‘style,’ it involves knowing the nitty gritty of the final product, how big it needs to be, what text it will include, what images it will include. For example:

If you can answer most of these questions, then not only do you know what you want, but you can explain it to a graphic designer in a way that will make the process run more smoothly for both parties.  If you don’t have the answer to a number of these questions, don’t despair, it just means you should consider hiring a more experienced designer or marketing specialist who knows the ropes and can generate content as well as images.

Second, Find the Right Graphic Artist.

I’m not going to suggest how or where you can find a graphic artist–they are out there, and they want you to find them. (A few informative starting points include here, [2] here [3], here [4], or here [5]). The one tip I will offer–if you have encountered stunning graphics on a website or book cover that you absolutely love, then track down that graphic designer.

The most important aspect of choosing a graphic artist is finding one who can provide the services you need and one who you find easy to communicate and work with.

 Third, Understand the Basic Graphics Design Process.

Just like the process of bringing a book from manuscript to print follows a series of steps, so does the production of a graphic design. Knowing the basic shape that process takes will help you know what to expect along the way.

Things to keep in mind during Design Development:

I compiled this advice from years of moonlighting in graphic design, including most recently, my experiences as the Writer Unboxed Advertising Guru. I consider myself a writer, however, more than a graphic designer. I know a number of members of the WU community are far more credentialed and experienced in graphic design–and I encourage them to add their thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

About Jeanne Kisacky [6]

Jeanne Kisacky trained to be an architect before going back to her first love--writing. She studied the history of architecture, has written and published nonfiction, and has taught college courses. She is the author of the recently published book, Rise of the Modern Hospital: An Architectural History of Health and Healing, 1870-1940 [7]. She currently fights valiantly to keep her writing time despite the demands of a day-job, a family, and a very particular cat.