All posts by Guest Writer

Combating the Stigma of the Overpriced Designer

Show your clients why it’s the designer who sits in front of the monitor

At some point in your career a client (or two) will question why they should pay exorbitant fees for designs that on the surface look pretty simple to produce. Let’s face facts, people who are “outside of the loop” of this industry lack an appreciation for the effort that goes into producing a clean, well executed layout or identity. After all, why would they? All they really end up seeing are the polished ideas. They aren’t included in on the oodles of hours spent brainstorming concepts, research and rounds of sketches that can fill a small coffee table book. More often than not, they only see an attractive and deceptively simple looking final result of all that labor and development.

To complicate matters further, the widespread attainability of “do it yourself” design software and logo mill infrastructures reinforce the fable that Creatives are the one push button “George Jetsons” to the “super computer” that does all the real work. I suppose when one is looking to negotiate for “bargain basement” rates, ignorance is better left bliss.

I’m trying to counter the general public’s innocently flawed perception via my site (eventually, but I digress) and I suggest that other professionals consider doing the same to promote an awareness of the value behind seasoned training and experience.

Showcasing one’s progression promotes the conceptual–and intangible– development of design.

Stephen, an online design colleague of Stephen Glasgow Design introduced me to a novel link that he was
including in his site called “Featured Projects.” Basically you select about five or so client projects from your archives and briefly document an overview of its development. You can see how he arranged his summarized projects in his web site.

Showcasing one’s progression has several advantages:

1. It’s a better solution than inundating your portfolio site with tons of work. Many of us for various reasons can’t do that anyway, either because they don’t have enough clients, or are in-house and unable to get a release for promoting their efforts via their own site. I also believe that like a physical portfolio, you should only have a small number of your best pieces (no more than 15 or so overall was once the rule of thumb) to showcase your dexterity—after all, isn’t that what a portfolio is really for; not to show how much work you’ve done and by how many clients, but how good you are at what you do. A separate link can list your clients to reinforce your experience. Every so often you can also rotate clients on your page as your base grows, refreshing your site’s contents at the same time.

2. It promotes the conceptual–and intangible–development of design. Good design is one-third execution and two-thirds creative development. As visual communicators we rely on our education to tailor a design that meets the client’s promotional criteria. It will also help them appreciate that we are specialists, much like doctors, lawyers and other experts who are an authority in their field and are a deserving investment because they draw upon the wealth of knowledge they possess to get the job done. They’ll see that not everyone with some acquired software and a manual can apparently be equally as competent. A well-rounded education can mean the difference between mediocrity and excellence.

3. By outlining your progression you also prepare potential clients for a taste of what they should expect when you’re commissioned by them. Although the unrealistic expectations of, “we need thirty pages of revisions by tonight” deadlines are often an unavoidable part of the business, clients can learn to appreciate that changes aren’t often just a mouse click away. Regrettably many still believe in the ridiculous notion of the “magic box”—click a button and instantaneous results occur because you know, the machine does all the work for you. It’ll also make it easier to justify estimate revisions that reflect the time that was unaccounted for.

Although there is no formal guideline in outlining your creative process, I recommend that you keep it informatively concise. You want to give them a glimpse into the labor involved, not over burden them with too many details.

When the non-designing populace begin to understand that the true benefit lies not in the final product but how well it was developed, our industry professionals will be all the more respected for it.

©2006, Dagmar Jeffrey

Dagmar Jeffrey of Archetype Design Studioâ„¢ has accumulated over ten years of print advertising and graphic communication arts experience through independent design contracting and prepress production; both through her business and via well established enterprises.

You can normally find Dagmar actively participating and generally hobnobbing in some of the most well regarded design forums, contributing her expertise in such forums as HOW, About Graphic Design and About Desktop Publishing among others. She is also a member of the Brainstorming Team at NO!SPEC and is presently collaborating on other projects pertinent to the industry.

Some Blacks Are “Blacker” Than Others

When is black a rich black? When do you use it? Lyn Eggleston expains it

Rich black is a mixture of all four of the process colours, particularly extra cyan for a ‘cool’ rich black or extra magenta for a ‘warm’ rich black – or both – as well as 100%K. Different commercial printers usually have their own preference for what is rich black, based on knowledge of their presses, their inks and the paper being used etc. I googled rich black to see whether there was any consensus, and in one discussion I found the following suggestions for the CMYK mix: 40/40/0/100, 60/40/40/100, 65/65/50/100, 40/30/30/100, 25/25/25/100 all in in one thread. In other words, there is no one ratio for rich black. It’s usually a matter of trial and error (expensive process) which is why if it is being commercially printed, you should find out from the printer what he prefers.

Rich blacks are often used in backgrounds which are black, as K on its own is not usually intense enough and may look a bit boring or even washed out (greyish) depending on how much there is and what other colours are around it.

However, other black elements, especially text and thin strokes, should never be a rich black, as when printed, it can be difficult to get the registration of all the inks used absolutely spot-on, so there can be colour ‘halos’ around the text or lines.

Depending on your monitor, pure black on screen can look a little washed out, and presumably those settings you are referring to (which I have never even noticed) allow you to set the monitor display of black as a richer black. I would never choose the option of ‘output all blacks as rich black’ for the reasons described above. However, you could choose to ‘display all blacks as rich black’ if the appearance of 100%K on screen worries you.

To summarise, you could make a swatch called ‘rich black’ in your layout application, and apply it to those elements that you want to look really black. Bear in mind if you are printing this yourself, you will chew through the ink/toner cartridges a lot faster.

Lyn Eggleston is an Australian graphic designer currently working inhouse for a US-based dental supply company. Over the last few years, she has worked in a variety of inhouse design positions, as well as learning valuable skills being the prepess person in a small printshop. Lyn is a frequent contributor to a number of online forums on graphic design and Adobe programs.

InDesign CS2: Improved Productivity Features

The jump from InDesign 2.0 to the CS version was a no-brainer. The move from CS to CS2, however, required a lot more thought on my part. Is it worth it? Is it a justified expense? Is there anything new that I really need, or is it all luxury?

As a design company of one, time is of the essence. The productivity features that are included in InDesign CS2 were a godsend. Not only are they designed to save time, but they have the potential to increase consistency, reduce repetitive tasks, and streamline integration with Microsoft programs such as Word and Excel. Of course, everyone will have their own favorite features but here are some of the best of the time savers.

Object Styles

Paragraph Styles Palette
(Enlarged version)

With CS2 you can now create and apply styles to objects in the same way that you do with paragraph and character styles. The Object Styles options are extensive and will save hours whether you are formatting individual objects, grouped objects, or even text frames.

Apply Next Style

Object Style Options(Enlarged version)

For those with too much to do in too little time, the option to apply multiple styles at once will save loads of time. InDesign CS2 added a nifty little feature called “Apply Next Style” which allows designers to apply multiple styles with one click. When either creating or modifying a style, all that’s necessary to make use of this feature is to designate the next style option in the edit style box. When applying the style, the feature is available when you right click (control click on a Mac) on the actual style name in the palette.

Interactive Layers

(Enlarged version)

Whether you are importing layered PSD or PDF files, the new interactive layers feature is amazing. Not only can you choose which layers you want visible upon placing, but after placing, the Object Layer Options dialog box allows you to turn the visibility of each layer on and off. This saves the time usually reserved for creating, placing, and replacing multiple versions of a graphic.

Multiple Page Place

Place PDF Window(Enlarged version)

This has got to be one of my most favorite additions to InDesign. With CS2 importing multiple page PSDs is a breeze. Not only that, but you now can access and change the layer visibility of PSDs as well. Enough said.


Snippets. A fast, cool, and totally user friendly way to save an object so it can be dropped into a document, library palette, or email message. It’s as simple as selecting any combination of objects that you would use frequently, dragging and dropping them into either the Adobe Bridge or your desktop where a INDS file will be created.

Other Awesome Time Savers

Drag and Drop: Now you can just select your text and drag it anywhere you want. This option has to be turned on to work in Edit, Preferences (InDesign, Preferences on Mac).

Autocorrect Feature: Although mostly used for correcting frequently misspelled words (acn instead of can), or missed initial caps, the autocorrect options can be customized to include your own personal typing shortcuts.

Automatic Bullets: Finally. No more fooling around with indents and tabs to line up a bulleted or numbered list. And, along with an icon on the control palette for both numbers and bullets, the ability to select and format multiple items all at once, and the option to change the appearance of both bullets and numbers through a simple dialog box, the automatic bullets are an admirable addition.

Footnotes: Not only does the InDesign footnote command work really well, but the ease with which InDesign can now work with Word footnotes is a real eye-opener. Footnotes autoflow with the page they correspond to, and, being someone who has to work with this feature on a regular basis, all I can say is “Thank you, thank you, thank you”.

Although the interface looks pretty much the same as in InDesign CS, CS2 encompasses some of the most welcome productivity enhancements I’ve seen in a long time. Someone was really thinking this time around.

© Copyright 2005 Katherine Huck.

Katherine Huck is the owner of Keystone Consulting. Established in 1998, Keyston Consulting exemplifies professionalism enhanced by creativity and whimsy. Katherine’s impressive hands-on experience as a marketing agent and designer includes: visual and performance arts, education, underground technology, transportation and heavy equipment, communications, and computer solutions. Her extensive copy writing experience is reflected in weekly contributions to The Sudbury Star’s business and arts sections. Visit her website: