Five on Design-logo

Five on Design

Arts & Culture Podcasts >

More Information


United States





You need to write case studies

When you're putting your portfolio together, it's easy to put all of your images on to one page, title it “Portfolio” and call it done. I've been guilty of doing this too. The downside is that this doesn't include anything like what you did or who you did it for. All it does is look nice. But you need to dive in deeper. It's not only important to look nice, but our work needs context. You need a case study.


The joy of un-ending design revisions

If you ever read about clients from hell, usually there's a story that involves someone who couldn't make up their mind about a design concept. The story typically goes that the designer showed the client, something that they thought was amazing. 50 revisions later, the sky turned green, and the client was dictating what font should be used. Everything goes off the rails. Design revisions are something that won't be going away anytime soon. As long as we're dealing with human beings, there...


Tips for handing design off to another designer

One of the most vulnerable things you can do as a graphic designer is hand your design files off to someone else. It's the most nerve wracking thing on the face of the planet. It's one thing if you're digging around in your Photoshop file and doing some crazy things. You know what you're doing and you don't always need notes. On the flip side, it's difficult for the person you might hand that design file off to, to figure out what was going through your mind. It's a pain in the butt. You...


What brand of computer should you be using?

A number of years ago, Apple ran their famous Mac versus PC ad. Truth be told, it was one of my favorite ads of all time. It hit home on the competitve nature between Mac and PC users. Fast forward to today, it seems that the differences between running Mac or Windows are mostly cosmetic to the average user. Most applications now run on both systems and do so quite well. For most, they can focus on where the price and specifications provide the best value.


What to know about working with subcontractors

As a freelancer, you're bound to run into a project where you can't do it all by yourself. At that point, you've usually got a couple of options. You can turn around and run or you can find somebody who's able to help you out. In the business world those awesome people are known as subcontractors. They're a super valuable resource. They can help you get through large projects and open you up to new potential business opportunities.


Reaching out to businesses that you think need help

As a new designer, it seems there is a tempting scenario that goes something like this. They don't like a local business's website and decide—with good intentions—that they need to reach out and talk about it. They think they know better. They think it knows just what they need. They go as far as creating a concept with the intention of just presenting it to them. What happens though, is rather than getting an excited client from the deal, they put the owner on defense. The owner might be...


Why is it so hard to make something so simple?

One of the first projects I designed on my own at my first agency job was a simple flyer. I remember the client had a lot of information they wanted on there and most of it wasn't necessary. The poster I ended up sending back was pretty minimal—but it was really effective. The feedback was a stinger: "It looks like something I could have done in Word."


How do you know when you're good enough?

On a recent episode of the Honest Designers Podcast, they had a wonderful discussion about knowing when you're good enough. I was intrigued because its so common that people expect they need a certain number of followers, likes or amount of money to be successful. How do you know when you're actually good at something? I fully agreed with their points and I had my own two cents to add to the discussion.


Working with vendors: Who pays?

At some point while you work with clients, it become inevitable that you'll need to bring in a third party product, service, or company to work on the project. Aside from how to hire or find that resource, one of the biggest questions I hear is how to handle paying them. There's usually two avenues you can take: make the client pay them directly or pay them yourself and charge the client back. Both options have their pros and cons.


What do you put in your portfolio?

Whether you're starting out or you're a seasoned graphic designer, one of the biggest headaches you might have is what to put in your portfolio. We get decision paralysis, because in most cases you're pretty close to your projects. It can be difficult to decide what needs to go into your portfolio and what may need to come out.


How to choose a printing company

At some point as a graphic designer, you'll find yourself needing to print stuff. Naturally, there's a whole lot of choices out there. Some are best suited towards a small run project, like business cards. Others favor fancy projects like a brochure with a cutout or spot varnish. Your two options are either finding somebody local, or going online. Each of them has their pros and cons. In this episode, I'm going to go over my experiences with both.


Dealing with clients who are acting unprofessional

For some of us school was a rough time, especially when it came to things like the playground, when we found ourselves on the receiving end of a bully's wrath. If you were like me, there was always those moments where you wondered to yourself what being an adult would be like. It was easier to imagine a world where you didn't have to deal with that kind of stuff anymore. But bullies grow up like the rest of us and find jobs like the rest of us. And in some circumstances, we're forced to deal...


What do you include in your design deliverables?

Sometimes the most nerve racking thing outside of actually doing the design work for a client is handing the design off to them once it's finished. One of the most common questions I see asked by new designers, is what do you hand off when you're finished up with a design project?


The secret to designing something quickly

If you ever watched a designer or an artist create something super fast and wonder how they did it. If you look up the answer to this question, it usually boils down to experience. And while that's true, there's a few other things that kind of mix into that as well.


When is it okay to work for free?

As graphic design software becomes more accessible, it's more common that clients and potential clients expect designers to work for cheaper or free. Like others, I always say that you should never work for free. It's called spec work: work defined as producing a piece for a potential client with no guarantee that your work will be chosen and/or paid for.


Using Design to Guide People Through Challenging Tasks

As users demand more out of their smartphones, websites, or computers, it's becoming even more important for designers to help them get through challenging tasks. It's important that they can take to the interface in a simple, efficient and easy manner that doesn't make them want to give up.


Introducing Radical Design Changes Without Getting Destroyed

There's been a few episodes on this show where I've talked about how people respond to design. In a couple of episodes, I even talked about some of the feedback. It's a tricky thing to get right. It's even more tricky when people are super-passionate about the existing thing you're redesigning.


How do you give helpful design feedback?

As designers, we tend to get a lot of feedback about our design. How well that feedback is depends on who we're getting it from. Some people are great at giving feedback, and others are terrible. It's easy to get angry over bad feedback until the roles are reversed and we're the ones giving it. It's difficult to encourage someone to find their own way while not entirely turning their work into something from a mini version if yourself. So what does good design advice look like?


Dealing with DIY-type Clients

I've had my fair share of interesting client stories over the years. There's one I latched on to that I ended up laughing a bit at. I had a client who got excited about the design process and decided to try their hand at design alongside me. You can imagine my surprise sitting down for one of our regular status meetings and they walked in with a bunch of paper under their arms. On the paper was a variety of logo concepts. They didn't feel like they were getting their point across and decided...


Should you advertise your pricing and rates?

Whether you design full-time or part time, setting prices for your design services is a nerve-wracking task. You may have a good idea of what your value is and how much our design is valued. It's a fine line between finding good clients and clients who are happy to pay your rates.