Finding a creative partner
Finding a designer is easy. Super easy in fact. Countless creative institutions (such as my alma-mater School of Visual Arts) are in the business of sculpting a writhing, roiling heap of creative thinkers and designers. If you have a project that is in desperate need of such skills, you only need to throw up the bat signal (of creativity) and
a designer a bushel of designers will answer the call.
The key is choosing the right designer for you and your project. It is certainly an obvious statement to make but it is overlooked quite often. If you are in the market for creative help, you need to approach it with the same care and love you have for your project. After all, the person you choose will be molding your idea into the juggernaut you have been dreaming about.
Finding a colleague with similar sensibilities is always of value, as you both will approach the project with familiar viewpoints. I suggest, however, finding someone with the desired sensibility. Perhaps you are designing a company meant to shake up the established norm of whichever vertical you reside in. Looking for someone outside of that circle with a different approach to design may be what you need. Hiring a similar-thinking person to create your brand may give you something you like, but it may not be the disruption you were expecting. Find someone who has work that emulates the feeling you are striving for, not the feeling you are used to.
Referrals are the biggest way to score a designer. It all comes down to trust. Do you know someone who knows a gal who designed their website? Ask for that designer’s contact. Hell, do YOU know a designer who created something you dig? Engage them and see if the partnership will work out. Referrals are the lifeblood of the design world. As with everything, it’s all about networking.
Skip the teenage niece or nephew of a friend for big projects
Unless your teenage niece is a design savant, maybe start them on the smaller projects. Don’t entrust your big creative endeavors to someone simply because they have a version of Photoshop (also Photoshop is a pixel-based program which makes scaling the output huge problem. If someone says they will create your logo in PS, run away). Do your due diligence and scour the internet for a solid creative with great work. Behance and Dribbble are dripping with brilliant designers and illustrators who are more than happy to make you look good. After they have designed the hell out of your project, call that niece or nephew and ask for a really dope, umm… I don’t know. A hug? Don’t hire them.
Partnerships garner the best work
Approach working with a designer as a partnership rather than a transaction. It has to be a mutually beneficial relationship for the best work to be produced. You (the client) are leaning on the creative for their immense skill and ability to translate your vision into reality. They (the creative) need your subject matter expertise and guidance. You are the expert of your craft, as the designer is for theirs.