What is it Like to be a Recently Qualified Designer?

Lauren Marie Krause has been an valuable contributor to the comments on my blog and I really like the way she writes. I asked her if she would be interested in writing a guest post and she kindly agreed. I asked her what is was like to be a recently qualified designer, Lauren’s blog post in response follows

Don’t You Make the Same Mistakes!
by Lauren Marie Krause www.creativecurio.com

Profs like to scare you in school with tales of how they almost lost $10,000 on their first design job because the logo colors had 3% too much black in them. Well, unless you first client is Coca-Cola, that’s probably not going to happen.

It’s amazing how much you can learn after being in the full-time working world for only a few months. I studied all aspects of graphic/media design in school from print to photography to illustration to video to 3D to CD-ROM/DVD authoring for three and a half years. I have worked in over a dozen different design programs (most of which I’m now quite rusty in). We learned all about the fundamentals, principals and elements of design. We had projects due every other week. We even learned several programming languages. Sounds like I would be quite prepared to start working, no? Well, no. I didn’t know a lick about the business side of design.

Hopefully your professors have taught you how to sell yourself to a potential client, but what about after that? What things should you include in a contract to keep yourself as covered as possible? What about clients who don’t pay? And even before that question, how do I know what to charge? I asked several different profs this question and not one would give me a straight answer!

Maybe something that just has to be learned the hard way is how to be diplomatic and tactful. You may have a supremely amazing idea, but if you present it as a pushy know-it-all, no one will listen to you and worst yet, the CEO will call you in and tell you to not ever do that again. It’s very embarrassing. Trust me.

So I have several questions, some for experienced designers and one for the newbies:

For the experienced ones in our field

  • What business tips would you like to give the newbies?
  • What did you have to learn the hard way that you would like to spare the rest from having to experience?

Hopefully we will be wise enough to learn from your mistakes.

For the beginners

  • What, if anything, scares you the most about getting out into the real world?

I wonder how many seasoned designers share these same fears with the greener of us.

LaurenLauren graduated in December 2006 from a small design college in Southern California and is now working as a full time and freelance web and graphic designer. She enjoys the creativity she gets to express through her work and is constantly looking for new ideas and inspiration and enjoys seeing the small details in life that most people miss. Some of Lauren’s work can be seen at www.laurenmarie.net also please take a look at her blog www.creativecurio.com

Student and Real Design Briefs Compared


I was interested to read Sean Dinners – The Real World vs Student Design Briefs in response to my post Sample Design Brief for Students.

As he points out his student brief, which you can download from Seans blog is significantly different to my live brief. The student brief is 3 pages long and has full details of requirements, logos, images, size, essential design elements and technical specifications. This rarely happens in the real world, well not for anywhere I have worked anyway, maybe for some of the big City Agencies. It would be a real luxury to have such a full complete brief for a job.

As I mentioned before usually the briefs I take are verbal, which in some ways is good as you can try and really get to the bottom of what the client is looking for, but you do then have the problem of misinterpretation. A written brief means everything is in black and white and there can be no disagreements on what you should or shouldn’t have done.

Sean also has mentioned before, he gets about three weeks to do a project, this just wouldn’t happen in the real world, unless the client had a huge budget. Some of this is obviously so the student can develop to their full creative potential.

My thanks to Sean for sharing a student student brief, it’s a great comparison. It would be interesting to hear any one elses views.

Any suggestions for the type of “real design briefs” you would like to see are welcomed in the comments below.

Sample Design Brief for Students: New Battery Brand and Pack

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As promised I have created a sample brief based on a brief I had a couple of years ago to create a new brand of batteries – including naming them, creating a logo and designing a look for the brand. For the initial stage I had to come up with three design options for a clam pack holding 4 batteries. The chosen design was then through the other clam packs and boxes and also on to a POS dump bin for use in DIY stores.

The brief (PDF) along with a cutter guide (illustrator eps), fictitious logo (illustrator eps)(similar to to the real one that I was supplied) and a couple of images of competitors designs(jpeg/gif) can be downloaded as a zip file from here. I have also include notes as to how I supplied the visuals and time allocated for the initial design.

The Challenge here was trying to fit a lot of information into a small space, coming up with a name and look that would work well at a small size

I hope this is of use to students, wanting to see some real every day briefs. I am happy to post more if they are of interest.

Any suggestions for the type of “real design briefs” you would like to see are welcomed in the comments below.

Looking for more sample design briefs have a look here.

Real Briefs for Graphic Design Student’s Reference


College projects often allow a lot of room for interpretation and can be very open which is good but they can lack the substance of ‘live’ work matt mcarthur

After seeing the above comment from Matt McArthur from my post about an HND in Graphic Design it got me thinking. When I was at college I had no real idea of what live design briefs were like or the budget or time allowed. I think if I had, myself and fellow students would have found it a real eye opener.

I wondered if it would be of interest to any graphic design students if I posted up a few of my old design briefs (with clients names etc changed) with a guide to how long I would expect to spend on them?

Often briefs are are very vague and a writen brief is a luxury, usually, I just take notes from a verbal design brief.

If anyone would be interested in this drop me a comment below and I will start to dig out a few old briefs and write them up for you as soon as I get time. If any other designers have old briefs (no rude comments please) they are prepared to share email me – mail @ graphicdesignblog.co.uk (remove spaces) and I will post with your link.

Anu suggestions for the type of “real design briefs” you would like to see are welcomed in the comments below.

Update: You can now find sample design briefs here

From Print to Web Design, Learning HTML and CSS


So as I mentioned I did a days training in HTML – yes I know its not enough, I need to put it into practice. Its pretty hard though when all your work is print based and you’ve had a massive influx of it. I am now back up to my ears in work again (forgive me blog if you become neglected for the next couple of weeks).

I had been searching round on the net to see if there were any good online courses – something I could do in my own time and dip in and out of. There are loads of them out there – lots of free ones too but what frustrated me about them all was there was no interaction. Ok so they told me something and then said try it yourself, but they didn’t make you think and the DVD videos were a great cure for insomnia (I have fallen asleep watching one for Strata 3D that I now use – seriously)

Finally I found an online (downloadable) course in HTML – which is cheap – $29 and does just that, makes it makes you interact. I have done a few sections so far. You read a bit about something, then it makes you insert tags etc into a window and then gives you the answer. Then after a few questions you get a quiz to test you on what you have learned so far – which it then marks for you. I have just got on to a section now which teaches you how to build a simple website which I will start as soon as time allows. If all goes well I will then do the CSS course.

My one day course in HTML

On Thursday I had a one-to-one days training in HTML. As I may have mentioned before I have read books on HTML but never dare actually try it. At least I had a vague understanding of some of the tags, but it was good having someone to show me best practices on how you should set your document up etc. What I had never really understood was tables. I know these are being phased out, but knowI understand a little on how the structure works.

What I find quite confusing is that everyone is saying forget tables CSS is the way to go for positioning, and yet the guy teaching me still says tables are very useful and that the danger of a site totally build with CSS positioning could easily collapse – with just one slight mistake.

So I guess I just learn both????…What does everyone else think – tables or CSS?

So its early days for me to being confident in the use of HTML and CSS but at least its a start.