Confessions of a Charlotte graphic designer

Confessions of a Charlotte graphic designer
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Note: Love confessions? Here’s the entire confessions series collection. If you’d like to participate, please email hi@charlotteagenda.com. We promise to keep you anonymous.


I know a lot of graphic designers. But I had no idea the stories they were hiding behind their artsy glasses and MacBook Pros. Here is one local graphic designer’s confessions about rude clients, ex-wife bashing posters and costly typos.

What’s the best part about your job? The worst?

The best part is that I’m able to meet new people and help them grow their brand! I’m fortunate to have some really awesome clients that communicate their expectations/ideas and are open to suggestions.

The worst part is price haggling. I don’t charge an arm and a leg, but I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the value of good design. Unfortunately, the promise of “exposure” can’t feed us, keep a roof over our heads or help pay off the mountain of student loan debt we’ve acquired.

Have you ever designed something and then realized it looked exactly like something that’s already been done?

I’ve never intentionally designed something that looked exactly like an existing design, but sometimes, depending on the subject matter, there are a million variations already created so it can happen.

I have had a couple people ask me to blatantly rip off an existing design; if they refuse to let me create something new using the original design as only inspiration, I decline the project.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you at work?

I was once asked to design some posters for a guy who had strong, negative feelings about his ex-wife.

I turned the job down and tried to politely explain I didn’t think that would be the best way to express his feelings…especially broadcasted to the general public as he intended.

Have you ever had to fire a client?

Unfortunately, yes. I learned my lesson the hard way that contracts are EVERYTHING. It really sucks when you spend a lot of time on a design and ultimately never get paid.

I’ve also had a potential client get upset with me when they found out I don’t work for free. They proceeded to ask me if I could just “teach them how to design” so they wouldn’t need to pay anyone for their work. I told them the first step is to earn a degree, gain a few years of experience and they’d be all set! And no, we didn’t end up working together.

Have you ever done a crappy job for an annoying client? Fudged your hours?

I’ve joked about it, but I would feel so guilty. I could never cheat someone out of honest work or money — that’s just asking for bad karma.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made at work?

I once had the wrong phone number listed for an ad and it went to print on thousands of items that ultimately had to be reprinted. In my defense, the client approved the proof that included their old phone number. I thought I was for sure going to get fired after that, but instead I was just scolded pretty heavily. I double check every little detail now even if something has been approved.

What do you say to people who think you just sit around and draw all day?

I’m honestly torn between a profanity ridden rant or simply saying “I wish!”

There is a lot more to graphic design than just drawing. You need to have at least some basic understanding of color theory, typography, layout/composition, art history and stay up-to-date on design programs and apps.

Have you ever criticized a logo only to find out a friend or colleague made it?

Not that I’m aware of. However, I was in a meeting where someone was completely bashing a particular design. I was the only one who knew who created that design and that employee just so happened to also be in that meeting. It was pretty awkward.

Any other confessions?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Charlotte, but if I have to incorporate one more crown into a design, I might lose it.


Note: Love confessions? Here’s the entire confessions series collection. If you’d like to participate, please email hi@charlotteagenda.com. We promise to keep you anonymous.

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