Sourcing designer graphics for your company, whichever niche it may fall in, is an essential part of the brand building process. In a world where we “eat with our eyes” creative design is a huge part of your success as a brand. Consumers are drawn to the aesthetically pleasing and creative design is the way you get them drawn to you. A big challenge for entrepreneurs is finding the graphic artist who can make the designer graphics for their brand. In this article I’m going to teach you the way the ways I’ve personally connected to graphic designers and how I’ve built relationships with them that are profitable for the both of us.
The niche myself and my company Dead in LA are in is the streetwear fashion space so the way I’ll be framing this article is around clothing and clothing brands. The things I’ll be discussing are relevant to every industry though, you don’t need to be into making t-shirts for these strategies and relationships to be beneficial to you. Follow along and utilize these techniques to get professional creative design that future proofs your brand into 2020 and beyond. Don’t get left behind in this digital age because you’re unable to make the designer graphics yourself or find a graphic artist.
Finding Graphic Designers
Sourcing creative design really comes down to your ability to search through social media these days. To connect with a large amount of graphic artists it is as simple as getting connected to one. Once you find someone who’s graphic design projects match the aesthetic you have or are building into your brand, you’re instantly connected to a massive network of graphic artists. How is this you might ask? Well, you’re soon going to see that they all follow one another and are each interconnected to the same community. As the old saying goes, “Good artists copy, great artists steal” and this is extremely true of the creative design industry. Graphic designers look at one another’s work and draw inspiration from the projects they see others creating. Each graphic artist has their own style and aesthetic that they create, therefore their taste in art and artists most likely resembles that of which they themselves create. This fact is the reason why once you find a single creative design artist you have found a hundred.
My absolute favorite place to find graphic designers in on none other than Twitter. The reason for this is because Twitter is the perfect platform for artists to show off their creative design work and have others share it across their individual followings. When an artist posts images of a new graphic design project they’ve just completed the ability for their work to be seen by hundreds, if not thousands of people is massive. A couple retweets could result in 30 retweets which eventually becomes 100 retweets because of the ever growing connected web of people seeing and reposting that graphic designers artwork. Graphic designers utilize this virality of Twitter and grow the following for their creative design and in turn the potential of someone seeing and hiring them from it.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the creative design community on Twitter is a large network of artists who all follow one another. I go to Twitter because I know when I find one artist that is capable of making the graphics I need for my brand I’ll be able to find others who are very similar in the art the create. I know if I go to that one artists following and followers lists I’ll enter a rabbit of hole of different creators out there all with a unique ability, but within the same niche whatever that may be. Logos, social media branding, UI/UX web design, clothing design, advertisements, 3d motion, the list is endless of the potential niche communities you can find yourself searching through.
I also keep Twitter as my go to for sourcing designer graphics because of how easy it is to connect with and begin conversations with the graphic artists. Every single one of them is able to be direct messaged through Twitter’s messaging feature, but also 95% of the artists have their website, portfolio, and email listed in their profile bio. These artists are businessmen and women too, so they make it as easy as possible for potential clients to find their work and to get in touch with them about commissioning a project.
So now it comes down to finding that first artist who has ties to the creative design community. Really it’s as easy as going to my Twitter profile and tapping into “following” or “followers” then scrolling through and looking at each of the artist’s portfolios that look enticing to you. If you like their stuff click into their following and followers and repeat the process over and over until you’ve gotten lost down the rabbit hole. You can curate a list of 100 artist all who are a DM away from creating what you need for you and your brand.
Some other Twitter profiles that can serve as the gate into the creative design community include Aaron Swift, Pressure, Sader, and Jesperish. All artists whose work I like and people I know who’s following and followers consists of an enormous amount of other graphic designers.
Getting in Contact
Once you’ve gone through and curated a list of all the artists you would be interested in working for its then time to inquire about starting a commissioned project with them. This process is as simple as sending them an email about the graphic design project you’re looking to start and direct messaging them through Twitter telling them you just sent that email. I have found that often my email will go unanswered if I do not send them the message because the email doesn’t give them a push notification on their phone, but the Twitter message does.
The email I send them first looks like this;
And the corresponding Twitter message looks like this;
Super simple, straight to the point, and mentions that it will be a paid project. I always make sure to mention the commission part of the deal because a lot of these artists get bombarded with messages looking for free creative design. Cut through the bs and include “commission project” or “paid project” in the subject line of your email so that the designer is more inclined to open and respond to your inquiry.
Giving Design Direction
When you’ve gotten in contact with the graphic artist and they have responded asking what the potential project is about, you’re going to need to provide them with the creative design direction that lets them know exactly what it is you are needing to have made. I provide an extremely in depth description of what it is that I’d like from them coupled with pictures and anything else I need that will allow them to understand the vision I have.
This is the email I sent to this specific illustrator when I was inquiring about a shirt design I needed to have made;
And then the one following once he agreed to take one the project;
As you can see I’ve laid out exactly what the concept of the graphic design project is and what I’m looking to have made. I provided plenty of description and imagery to give him a clear creative design direction in which he can then take and use to aid him in his efforts.
One thing I must mention is this quote from Phil Knight, “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” Don’t be the guy that is micromanaging every single aspect of the design process. You want your graphic artist to be able to freely create and not be constrained by the limiting specifics you keep imposing on him/her throughout the project. Give them a great description of what to do and then let them amaze you with the art they create.
Building a Relationship
An extremely important part of this entire process is to build a lasting relationship with the artist who has worked on your project. There is so much benefit in having these artists consistently working with your brand and the building and maintaining of a working relationship is extremely easy. Consistently working with the same artists get you both on the same page in terms of your brands aesthetic and way of doing things, as well as how you both communicate with one another. The design work that is created when you’ve done multiple projects with the graphic designer previously is better because you both begin to speak the same language in terms of your brand’s signature look and the workflow behind the creative design process.
Really it comes down to two things when building and maintaining these relationships. Tell them what to do and not how to do it, then pay them what they’re worth. It is really as simple as letting them create uninterrupted by you and then compensating them for the time and effort it took to create your artwork.
This meme with 18k likes illustrates it perfectly;
Graphic designers get low balled pretty much every day by ungrateful people and business owners who don’t realize the value these creatives add to them and their brands. If you’re cool the artist and pay them what they’re worth you’ll stand out from the rest of the herd and develop rapport. Plus, if they’re happy and know they are going to be getting paid accordingly, don’t you think the design work they create is going to be better than if they don’t?
Graphic designers are an essential piece to any growing brand and finding them and building a working relationship is imperative. Go to Twitter, fall down the creative design rabbit hole, get in contact with artists, tell them what to do, and pay them accordingly. It’s really as simple as that. With a network of graphic designers who enjoy working with you and your brand the potential is limitless for what kind of art can be created. The relationship is always win win when you’re both getting paid for working with each other; They make commission when they create and you make a profit when their artwork is what attracts your customers.